Photo illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge

In my family, there are two traditions when it comes to holiday meals: there must be way more food on the table than everyone can eat, and everyone must take home a plate of food at the end of the meal to make sure all the hard work that went into its preparation wasn’t wasted.

While small holiday gatherings have become the norm in my house in recent years, my mom still prepares big portions. When I asked her why, it boiled down to wanting to make sure there was enough for everyone, not just to enjoy the meal but to enjoy leftovers for as long as they wanted. That seemed perfectly reasonable to me — until I learned what a problem those leftovers are for the planet if they go to waste.

The holidays are a busy time for trash collectors….

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