The Thanksgiving meal is typically a big event, whether you serve turkey and all the fixings or something a little more novel. In either case, tradition abounds during the celebration. Not being aware of Mother Earth during the holiday is one of its more contemporary customs. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to change that. Here are some tips for a sustainable thanksgiving and how to organize a party to remember while keeping in mind the effects on the environment.
Even if you’re only catering to two, try something new. This Thanksgiving, eat a plant-based diet; it’s better for the environment. Try something new, even if this isn’t your first Thanksgiving without meat! See if any local vegan businesses and eateries are serving a holiday roast. Think about purchasing your produce at a farmers’ market. In an increasingly globalized economy, purchasing your produce locally helps family farms and reduces your carbon footprint.
Local produce tastes better than that found in grocery stores because it is fresher and has traveled a shorter distance. Pick up a bottle of vegan wine, beer, or whatever your poison is for libations. Even better if you can support a local company. Try ordering a prepared meal if you’re not cooking for yourself to save yourself some of the work of preparing a meal and several side dishes.
This year, use fewer single-use items on your table. Buy sturdy, reusable plates and cutlery, and goodbye, flimsy, plastic ones. I know that doing all those dishes would be a nightmare, but it would also be a nightmare to see all those plastic forks and plates in the trash. Buy some high-quality dining ware once, and you’ll probably never need to replace it. Spend a little more this year and you’ll have much more money to spare later. No one likes a soggy plate, so trust me, your guests will thank you.
Thanksgiving appears to be the holiday with the most food waste in America, with $293 million in food waste. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your feast to be green. On the big day, only bring what you know you can and will eat to avoid wasting perfectly good food. Reduce leftovers by cooking a smaller amount or finding tasty ways to use leftovers. If you still have leftovers that you can’t possibly eat, contact your local shelters or food banks to see if they accept donations of leftovers/cooked food. If you can’t find one, organize your feeding of the homeless! If you must discard items, look for a compost patch to contribute to or start your own!
Despite having a fancy label, that bottle of French wine has a significant carbon footprint. Choosing locally made craft beer or cider can be a more environmentally friendly option than bringing in wine flown in from far away. Also, as a general rule, cider is the most environmentally friendly alcoholic beverage because it requires less energy and labor than wine or beer; however, as always, local is preferred and the farther something has to travel, the less environmentally friendly it is.
Many roses and other flowers are cultivated by underpaid laborers who are frequently exposed to hazardous chemicals. Instead, search for more regional wreaths or flowers to use as holiday décor in your home. Using candles made entirely of beeswax will add a bit of sustainable light to spread for celebrating Sustainable Thanksgiving. Compared to fake flowers and plastic Pinterest decor, it can also make your home feel more distinctive.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and reducing travel miles is very beneficial to the environment. Instead, perhaps you could carpool home with someone. Perhaps you have a sibling or a friend traveling in the same direction with whom you could share a ride. You could also walk or ride your bike to your Thanksgiving destination if you live close enough!
While many websites claim that organic is the most sustainable option, the reality is more complicated, and purchasing locally is often more sustainable than buying organic. Farmer’s markets, on average, are more environmentally friendly than chain grocery stores. Purchasing local produce, particularly in-season produce, benefits the local economy and reduces transportation emissions by eliminating the middlemen in farm-to-table eating.
There are many other Turkey Alternatives for your spectacular Thanksgiving dinner spread if you’re a pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or simply won’t be able to finish a whole turkey with a smaller Thanksgiving gathering. For a smaller group, fish is a great option; you can cook a whole fish, a lot of tuna steaks, or some delicious grilled salmon. Try serving portobello steaks or cauliflower “turkey” as your main dish if you want to cater to people who eat only plants.
I hope that at least one of these Thanksgiving ideas will accompany you to your celebration. Many of these suggestions require little to no effort or sacrifice. However, to effect change, you must sometimes make a few minor sacrifices. Let us know how you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, and if you’ll be incorporating any of these ideas. Keep reading our website blog for more interesting sustainable living related articles.