HomeThe CSWD BlogFood WasteGo easy on the landfill: A holiday guide

Go easy on the landfill: A holiday guide

For many people, November is the gateway month to the holiday season and there’s never enough time, there’s always too much traffic, and the most convenient solutions usually turn out to be the most wasteful—leaving what’s left of your New Year’s resolutions in tatters.

Relax. You don’t have to increase your landfill legacy while you’re out running around getting ready for the holidays. Take a deeeeep breath. Now let it out. You’ve got this.

1. Visit a food-waste-fightin’ restaurant

Need to grab a bite while you’re out? Use your patronage as a force of good! There are many restaurants and businesses that are fighting food waste by composting their food scraps. If you’re already at a restaurant that isn’t on this list, let them know we can help!

View the list of restaurants

2. Throw an easy-peasy, waste-free dinner party.


Here’s how:

Use reusable dinnerware. After all, the best gossip happens in the kitchen during communal dishwashing sessions.

If you use disposable plates, bowls, or cups, make sure they’re recyclable or certified compostable, then follow the rules below.

Follow these recycling rules:

  • Utensils of any kind or material are NOT recyclable. Period.
  • Used paper plates, bowls, and cups are NOT recyclable. Most paper plates and bowls, and all paper cups are coated with plastic, making them non-recyclable. Uncoated paper plates become soiled with food, which is a contaminant that also makes paper non-recyclable.
  • Plastic plates, bowls & cups are recyclable only if rinsed clean. That means NO stuck-on food.

And these composting rules:

  • Only uncoated paper plates and bowls are compostable.
  • Paper cups, coated paper plates and bowls, and plastic foodware (including utensils) are compostable only if they or the package they come in states that they are “BPI Certified” or “ASTM certified for compostability.”
  • You have a plan for setting up separate containers for trash, recyclables and compostables. If you go to all the trouble to use compostable products, and you don’t have a place for people to put them, they (and your good intentions) will end up in the trash or, worse, mixed in with recyclables.
  • Find out more about compostable products at the Green Mountain Compost compostable products web page.

See? It’s much easier to just use reusable dinnerware! If you don’t have enough on hand, go buy some for very little money at a reuse store like the ReSource Household Goods shop in Burlington, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Williston, or Goodwill in Williston or South Burlington. Then donate them back when you’re done! Find these and other reuse options on CSWD’s reuse and donations web page.

Two bananas with drawn-on smiley faces against a red background
Photo by Stephan Brusche

3. Food scraps are a valuable resource—treat ’em that way!

When you’re preparing your meals, simply toss the rinds, peels, fats, bones, coffee grounds, and even paper towels into a food scrap collection container (you can pick one up at no cost from CSWD, but any container with a tight lid will do). Easy-peasy tip: Line the bottom of the bucket with a scrap of newspaper or a paper towel to make dumping easier.

When you’re done eating, scrape your plates into that same container.

The next time you’re out running errands, bring along the container and dump it off at any CSWD Drop-Off Center or Green Mountain Compost in Williston.

4. Bone up on food storage ideas that can save you some real dough

Check out our page on Reducing Food Waste for a slew of helpful resources. There’s definitely something for everyone there!

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Clare has lived in Tennessee, New Mexico, California, Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and, for the past 10 years, Vermont. She can be found peering into recycling bins everywhere to see what works and is frequently quizzed about recycling and composting in random places when people find out where she works. She spends as much time as possible playing ukulele and roaming through Vermont’s spectacular mountains and forests.