The holiday season produces lots of joy and good cheer. It also produces mountains of waste, including tons of food scraps.

According to Worldwatch Institute, Americans generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s; three times as much food waste as at other times of the year.

“As Vermonters enter the holiday season, a time of giving and celebration, the amount of waste generated, especially food waste, is staggering,” said Lisa Ransom, co-owner, with her husband Scott Baughman, of Grow Compost of Vermont, a Moretown-based company that picks up food scraps and other organic matter and makes compost.
Joe Fusco, vice president of communications for Casella Waste Systems, of Rutland, the largest waste management company in the state, said Casella sees a “substantial” increase in waste collected during the holiday season. “There is a lot more food produced Thanksgiving than any other weekend,” he said.

Fusco said waste haulers are like “anthropologists.” Everything people do, he said, including celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, “shows up in what we throw away.”

In recognition of that extra waste load, Cassandra Hemenway, outreach manager for the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, said CVSWMD placed an advertisement in the local paper prodding people to dispose of food waste in a more productive way than trash, and listed nine transfer sites in the area that accept food scraps.

CVSWMD, the first organization in Vermont to haul food scraps for composting, started collecting food scraps in 2004 and “transitioned” that task to Grow Compost in July of this year.

In November, to help deal with the holiday excess and to encourage Vermonters to think about food scraps as a resource, Grow Compost offered a two-month trial period for food scrap pick-up, instead of its standard contract timeline.

“Holidays are a time when our food and eating together becomes a focus. We think this is a great time for people to think about what happens to their uneaten food,” Ransom said.