The Thanksgiving holiday is tailor-made for eco friendly. While the Fourth of July ends with sparks flying and sporks flying into landfills, Christmas whips us all into a shopping frenzy of conspicuous consumption once a year. On the other hand, Thanksgiving is a simpler day. We take the time to be grateful for our abundance and give thanks to the planet. This year, let’s make sure our tables are filled with equal parts good food, gratitude and green. Here’s how:
SOURCE LOCAL: Start by making sure your turkey hasn’t traveled via trains, planes or automobiles. It’s all about reducing the carbon footprint of your food. Local shops and farmers markets carry all kinds of green and seasonal options from pasture-raised turkeys to organic veggies to homemade side dishes like pumpkin pie or fig relish. There are other benefits to shopping locally too. The food is usually picked when it’s ripe, so it tastes better. A win-win for your palate and the planet!
GET FRESH: Did you know that the canning industry uses 3 billion kWh of energy each year, which could run 8,571,428 refrigerators? Simple switches like fresh and organic produce and meats can lower statistics like these. By choosing organic veggies, you’re committing to agricultural practices that take care of the soil and limit soil erosion, another major contributor to CO2 emissions. Plus, by eating organic, you steer clear of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones -- promoting a healthier planet and a healthier body.
SET A SUSTAINABLE TABLE: We’re a nation that’s on the go. Let’s make sure Thanksgiving the antithesis of fast. Nothing creates an atmosphere for a peaceful time of reflection than a beautifully set table. Break out your best dishes in lieu of plates made from trees and plastic silverware that will end up in a landfill anyway. Same goes for dollar store, disposable decorations. Think horn of plenty and use the season’s natural abundance to make a centerpiece with of gourds, pinecones or pumpkins or accent with pomegranates, Native American corn or green apples. Or really set the mood by using candles instead of lights and saving electricity to boot.
DON'T LEAVE THE LEFTOVERS: It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without an encore (or two) after the main event. Cut down on the amount of food that’s thrown away by having your guests bring their own reusable containers to take away the fixins for a hot open-faced sandwich with gravy (yum!) But if you still have too many leftovers, consider donating them to a food bank. The goal is to reduce food waste, which is no small thing. In the USA, the second biggest dump into landfills is organic waste, a major source of methane emissions.
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