Don't throw out your leftovers, or you'll be contributing to Thanksgiving's greatest problem: The truly massive amount of holiday food wasted every year.
Al Jazeera America summarized just how awful Thanksgiving's waste problem has become on Twitter:
By the numbers: The 204 million pounds of uneaten turkey equates to $282 million wasted each Thanksgiving, but the problem goes deeper than wasting food and money. As the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) noted in a 2012 study, throwing out so much turkey also means wasting the labor and materials used to bring the turkey to the table — 105 billion gallons of water and 800,000 cross-country car trips worth of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the NRDC.
If that's not bad enough, the food thrown out to make room for Thanksgiving turkey and then the thrown-out Thanksgiving food itself all get sent to landfills, where it creates environment-damaging methane gas.
Why the waste? Al Jazeera America cites unfamiliarity with ingredients and public perception as the culprits for all the waste. If a person is unfamiliar with how to make certain Thanksgiving foods, they might overuse certain ingredients. Or they might totally botch something and wind up throwing it out and buying another.
Americans might also be grocery shopping in excess because Thanksgiving is supposed to be a "holiday of plenty." People might be afraid of looking cheap if they scrimp and don't buy a 20-pound bird, even though their family could never eat the whole thing (even when leftovers are factored in).
We're all supposed to be thankful for what we have on Thanksgiving, but throwing 35% of the delicious bounty away is the opposite of that. You've probably done your shopping already, so if you've purchased too much please try to eat all of it, save the leftovers or even donate to those in need. Just don't let it rot in a landfill — that's not being very thankful.