6 Tips To Have A More Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving — Enjoy The Holidays And Save The Planet!
Last year many of us had to skip Thanksgiving, Christmas, and most other major holidays. This year we’re still fighting a panosonic (🙄) that has now killed millions of people around the world, the ocean has been on fire, the supply chain is stuck, and the Northern White Rhinos are on the verge of extinction.
And while Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and be grateful, the dramatic spike in organic waste, food miles (the distance your food commutes to get to your dinner table), and air travel that comes with the holidays causes great harm to the thing that we all depend upon most – the planet!
As a country, we create 25% more trash from the period between Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of the year. This amounts to an extra 25 million tons of trash that enter our landfills and litter the planet. So before you start counting your blessings this season, check out these 6 Turkey Day Tips you can count on to have a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving.
Give a proper zero-waste “thank you” to Mama Earth for providing for us the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
6 Turkey Day Tips for A More Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving
Photo by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash
Eat More Plant Based
If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a million times — reducing your meat consumption can help save the planet.
This is because raising animals for meat requires a bunch of land and food. Making spaces for those two things often results in deforestation and the loss of natural habitats. Losing these habitats can result in higher amounts of carbon pollution, chemicals & fertilization which runoff into waterways, and of course, the methane emitted by the animals during digestion and as a result of transporting and processing them.
We’re not saying to ditch the turkey altogether and go full vegan — although if you want to accept that challenge please let us know how it’s going! But instead of having Turkey AND Ham, opt for one and replace the other with a plant protein. Really, the options are endless!
Here are some of our favorite food bloggers to get some inspiration from.
- Jessica in the Kitchen — You can sort by season, type of diet, and even ingredients!
- Murielle Banackissa — Have you been tasked with bringing the salad? Don’t just bring a bag of greens this year, step it up a notch with this Green Goddess Salad with Cashew Basil Dressing. You’ll be known as the Salad Goddess for years to come!
- Zero Waste Chef — Not only can you find an entire zero waste thanksgiving menu, but also a recipe to do something with those leftover pumpkins!
Photo by Somi Jaiswal on Unsplash
Explore Your Farmers Market
Big chain grocery stores and supermarkets typically rely on large, corporate farms to supply you with food that travels long distances to reach your dinner table. Farmers markets, on the other hand, keep their aisles stocked with fresh, organic produce from small and mid-size farmers who practice sustainable agricultural methods.
When you shop at a farmers market, your money supports the livelihoods of local farmers, whose sustainable farming practices provide whole foods that sustain your community. Sourcing your food (or as much of it as you can) with locally-grown produce will minimize your food miles, as well as your pesticide intake for a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving.
Reduce Food Waste For A More Sustainable Thanksgiving
An estimated 200 million pounds of turkey, 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes, and 30 million pounds of stuffing will get tossed in the trash can this Thanksgiving, destined to sit & spew methane gases into the atmosphere from landfills all across the country. Have a more sustainable Thanksgiving by making less food waste using the tips below.
Plan Out Your Feast for Minimal Waste
A planet-friendly feast starts with preparing a green game plan. Before you purchase your food, use this Guestimator to help figure out how much food you’ll need for everyone. Make a list before heading to the store and buy only what you need — and whatever you do, do not go to the store hungry. Not only will this reduce the amount of trips you’ll have to take and the carbon emissions you generate, you can use the money you save on gas to purchase organic food that also helps the environment.
Set Up An Eco-Friendly Leftover Station
With a Stasher Station, you can pack up the excess food and set it out so your guests can help themselves to delicious leftovers to take home with them. If you’re a guest, bring your own reusable containers, such as this Stainless Steel 2-Tier Lunchbox and/or Stasher Bags for leftovers, so you don’t have to use disposable bags or containers.
Repurpose Your Leftovers To Ensure They’ll Get Eaten
Sure, there’s nothing like a leftover thanksgiving sandwich, but for how many days? With a simple online search for “Thanksgiving leftover recipes,” you can find countless ways to give your Turkey Day scraps a delectable facelift. Use your eco-safe Stasher Bags to keep food fresher for longer and your leftovers more flavorful.
Compost What You Can't Consume
You might be surprised at all the leftovers and inedible food waste that you can easily compost into a fertilizing agent for your plants and garden. While turkey, ham, other meats, and dairy should always be kept out of (most) composts, all other food and scraps are fair game! Uncoated paper products, such as plates, cups, paper towels, and cardboard food packaging are also great additions for your pile.
Get together with other family members and even neighbors to collect food waste and make one trip to the community compost if you have one available. Getting into a sustainable habit of minimizing your food waste all year can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.
Say No To Disposables And Yes To Reusables
Paper products account for nearly 30% of all the trash sent to landfills resulting in 254 million tons of paper waste each year. Most dinner guests usually won’t jump at the opportunity to clean that post-Thanksgiving pile of dirty dishes sitting in your sink, but you must resist the temptation of using paper, plastic, and the dreaded styrofoam products at your annual feast for the sake of the planet.
Instead of disposable tableware, you can use your favorite set of dishes and utensils, and replace the paper towels & napkins you normally might use with tree-free reusable products. Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Rainbow Towels will add more color to your table and less waste for your trash can. Have a set for cleaning and a set for napkins to keep them separate and keep trees out of the landfill!
Sustainable Travel is Smart Travel
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days to travel in the year. Automobile travel alone burns nearly a half billion gallons of gas every Thanksgiving, which adds up to an extra 4 million metric tons of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere. That’s not even accounting for the 31 million travelling by airplane this holiday.
Take a Year Off
We’ve been there and done that but if you have the opportunity to do a virtual holiday and travel at a lower demand time you could be saving big on carbon emissions. The less time you have to spend stuck in traffic, the less time your car will have to burn fuel and emit carbon emissions. And the more time you don’t spend stuck in traffic.
Photo by Sebastien LE DEROUT on Unsplash
Bus & Trains Provide More Sustainable Options
Not only do these forms of transit reduce roadway congestion, consume less energy, and save you on gas, making your holiday trips by bus or train is friendlier to the planet. One bus can replace up to 55 cars on the road, and trains emit around 70-75 percent fewer emissions when compared to cars and airplanes.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
If you must travel this Thanksgiving, buying carbon offsets can actually keep your commute ‘carbon neutral’. Carbon offsetting is simply a method in which you can use one emission-reducing action to compensate for carbon emissions you produced with another activity. By purchasing offsets, your money directly funds environmental projects that remove greenhouse gases from the air.
Any way you slice it, there are many simple ways to incorporate more eco-friendly practices for a sustainable thanksgiving this year. Be safe and stay grateful!