Thanksgiving is a time when we usually get together with our friends & families, stuff our faces with delicious food and try not to fall asleep before 8 pm. Some may love the thanksgiving weekend (yay food!) while other might dread it (ugh, family) – whichever side of the table people are on, all the travelling, big meals and waste created by the holiday shows little regard for the environment.
Don’t go cancelling Thanksgiving just yet my eco-conscious friends – there are ways to enjoy the holiday while reducing your impact on the environment.
1. Buy Local and Stay Local
Here are two things to consider that may make you want to stay home and buy local this thanksgiving:
- The miles people travel via airplane, train, or car to visit their loved ones (601 miles or 967 km).
- The average distance your favourite sides travel to get to your local supermarket (around 745 miles or 1200 km).
The Thanksgiving holiday has a notoriously large carbon footprint.
The most environmentally friendly course of action would be to stay put for thanksgiving and buy organic produce from local farmers markets.
2. Ditch the Turkey & Buy Organic
Just because its thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to have turkey!
Turkeys are usually given hormones to speed growth and eat feed grown in pesticides. Couple that with the antibiotics they’re given in order to resist disease, skipping the Turkey might be best for your body.
If you want to have a green thanksgiving, but there’s no way you’re giving up turkey, consider buying birds that are naturally raised, grain fed, and are free of hormones and antibiotics – free range turkeys usually fall into this category.
Don’t just stop at the bird, buy organic produce for your sides and desserts – while this may be a little hard on your wallet, that shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve followed number one and stayed home and cooked a small meal.
There’s also the added bonus of keeping all those pesticides out of your body and the local water supply!
3. Forget About Paper Plates and Plastic Utensils
When it comes to feeding a ton of people (and a trough is out of the question), the clean up afterwards is usually a task that needs its own separate holiday to complete.
Fight the temptation of convenient, disposable paper plates and plastic utensils! It’ll be tough -cleaning up while in the clutches of a food induced coma is never a pleasurable experience.
Stick to real plates and utensils – paper plates and plastic utensils that become contaminated with foodstuffs can’t be recycled.
4. Invest in a Roasting Pan
Here is another instance of convenience trumping sustainability – cheap, disposable roasting pans are plentiful in grocery stores but are incredibly wasteful and cannot be recycled due to the remnants of your entrée.
Investing in a roasting pan is the right way to go, and much easier on the environment. If you’re the frugal sort ask a friend or family member to borrow theirs (bearing in mind they aren’t on turkey duty this year).
5. Compost Leftovers
Another great thing about thanksgiving is all the leftovers! Whatever food that doesn’t make the leftover cut, keep them out of the trash bin and compost instead. If you’ve prepared your compost pile for the winter months, there shouldn’t be any reason not to.
6. Avoid Black Friday
Here’s an idea, on our vacation let’s get up at the crack of dawn, wait in line outside a mall or store in less than ideal temperatures with a bunch sleep-deprived individuals and hope that we don’t get trampled, injured or worse when the doors open – all for the sake of a deal! What fun!
If you really can’t resist a deal, opt to do your shopping online on Cyber Monday. A recent study was shown that Black Friday is fifty times more carbon intensive than its online counterpart, most of the CO2 emissions coming from the gas used by consumers getting to and from stores.
Thanks to Cyber Monday you can give the environment a break along with your wallet – saving some green while being green, what a concept!
This applies to American Thanksgiving, of course. Canadian Thanksgiving involves all the food coma’s, family fun and weight gain of it’s American counterpart without any interruption to our favourite American TV shows.
The holidays shouldn’t be an environmental disaster, follow these tips and the environment will give thanks for your effort.