The trashed turkey contributes to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year, the Natural Resources Defense Council said.
"Along with trashing uneaten turkeys, they'll be wasting the resources necessary for its production -- meaning 105 billion gallons of water -- enough to supply New York City for more than 100 days -- and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco," the council said in a statement.
Nationwide, U.S. consumers will purchase about 736 million pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving, of which about 581 million pounds will be actual meat, the council said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 35 percent of perfectly good turkey meat -- not including bones -- in the United States does not get eaten after it is purchased by consumers. This compares with only 15 percent of good chicken meat thrown away, the council said.
Why is so much more turkey wasted than chicken?
"Possibly because turkey is more often eaten during holidays when consumers may tend to discard relatively more uneaten food than on other days," the USDA said.
Discard any turkey, stuffing and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours because they can cause illness, the USDA said.
This might occur because the family chef is tired and finding room in the refrigerator difficult.
Try to plan where leftovers will be stored before sitting down to Thanksgiving or right after dinner, remove leftover meat and store in smaller plastic bags that will chill quickly in the refrigerator, or toss in the freezer.