Give Thanks, Make Compost


Thanksgiving is as American as Apple Pie and Fireworks. Big meals, large families and smiling friends bring happiness and warmth to homes across the country. 

But did you know that Americans trash nearly one third of the food we produce? Not only that, but we ramp up the production of food waste threefold between Turkey Day and New Year’s, according to the WorldWatch Institute. 

So how can we give back all this over production to our community? Composting, of course! Check out our tips below for this season’s most common dishes that can be returned to the earth. 


The main fare of many Americans’ feast is the bird. This Thanksgiving staple is often the star of the show, and is best repurposed in stocks, stews, leftovers or frozen for future use. Animal proteins don’t belong in home composting, so keep these scraps and leftovers out of the bin. Consider buying smaller portions that will
suffice for your family’s feast.


Potatoes, yams, corn,  pumpkins, green beans and more are classic Thanksgiving sides. As long as they’re free from animal proteins (we’re looking at you, bacon & gravy), these are some of the best materials to compost. Once you’re done with the leftovers, add these to your collection bin. Make sure there’s no dairy in the recipe either. 

Cranberries & Fruits

Ahh the great debate – canned or fresh cranberry sauce? Either way, these sweet sauces are typically ideal compost material as they’re rarely mixed with animal proteins or dairy. Have a fruit cake afterwards, maybe a cherry pie? These are also great options for the bin when you’re done. 


Stale bread often makes the best start for stuffing or salad croutons, so always reuse before you consider composting. Once you’re done, those sourdough, rye, pumpernickel and other types of bread can go right in the compost bin, no worries!

Coffee & Tea

Always finish your meal with a hot cup of coffee or tea? Spent tea and coffee grounds are considered a great “green” composting material, but make sure they’re free from containers such as tea bags or K-cups. Packaging is often not compostable. 



Food wrappers, butcher paper, and even “industrial composter approved” containers may seem like they can go in your home bin, but these often have small plastic linings that make them better for the recycle bin if they’re free of food residues. 


Typically from liquids or beverages, plastics are not compostable and should often be rinsed and recycled if appropriate. Look for the number inside the recycling logo to ensure your home recycling will accept it. 


Canned goods are often a staple of any holiday meal, especially if you’re making pies. Make sure to rinse these out and put them in your recycling, not the compost bin. 

Photo Credit to Wooden Utensils


Alcohol bottles, home made jam jars, and other glass containers should often be re-used. If you can’t, make sure you rinse (and possibly de-label) your glass containers for the home recycler.


Paper products aren’t great for the composter, especially if they have greasy food residue on them or wax coatings. Think parchment paper, wax paper, pizza boxes, butcher paper and more – these are great for the recycler if they’re free of food. 


Always check the recycling logo on the carton of juice, stock or other liquid you’re using in your holiday meal. If you rinse it, they’re often recyclable. Because of their liquid resistant linings, these items are rarely compostable. 

Start Composting Now

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