Simple Tips for a Green Thanksgiving

November 16, 2011 View all articles in General

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering and giving thanks for all of life's bounties. Unfortunately, it's also a time when a lot of throwing away and wasting happens. In fact, it's estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw away a million tons of waste a week. The good news is, there's no better time than Thanksgiving Day to practice wise consuming. Here are a few simple tips you can put to use this year; the earth will thank you. 

PLANET FRIENDLY THANKSGIVING FOOD

  • The biggest part of Thanksgiving is, as everyone knows, all the glorious food. It only makes sense, then, that one of the best ways to be good to the environment this holiday season is by using organic, homegrown, and pesticide-free ingredients for your meals.
  • Organic beef, turkey, pork, and chicken are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones and are given pesticide-free feed. If you can't find organic roast brands in your neighborhood market, shop online through companies like Greensbury Market or look to regional meat producers such as Eatwild.
  • Vegetarians can go green on Thanksgiving by visiting the Organic Consumers Association website and cooking some of their suggested recipes. Cranberry panna cotta with orange caramel sauce? Roasted butternut squash soup with chipotle spiced seeds? Yes, please!
  • Improve the quality and carbon footprint of your meal, vegetarian or not, by using ingredients purchased from local Farmers' Markets, family-operated farms, or U-Pick locations. Not only will your Thanksgiving feast be all the better for the environment, it will also be fresher and better tasting!
  • Remember to buy bulk if you're cooking for a lot of guests. You'll save money as well as reduce the amount of landfill-bound packaging.
  • According to Earth911.com, “at least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year.” To reduce that number, simply plan ahead and limit the portion sizes so you make less food to begin with.
  • If you still have food left over at the end of your meal, send the food you know you won't be able to eat home with your guests.
  • But wait a second, you didn't invite any guests. How are you going to eat all that food? You can donate it all to a nearby food bank or homeless shelter. You can also compost your food scraps in the backyard. Refer to our article “ 9 Steps to Backyard Composting” for steps on starting your own outdoor compost bin and for a list of compostable and non-compostable items.

ORGANIC THANKSGIVING DRINKS

  • If you decide to add some Thanksgiving beer to the menu this year, consider brands that offer organic varieties. Our article “ Where You Can Find Organic Beer” might make your search easier.
  • If you prefer to give thanks with wine, look to the Organic Wine Company.
  • There are also plenty of organic hard cider brands out there, if that's your preferred Thanksgiving drink. Try J.K.'s Scrumpy or Northern Natural Organics.
  • And don't forget to make all your Thanksgiving cocktails with organic liquor! Chow.com has a list of 10 organic liquors you can peruse.

EARTH-FRIENDLY DECORATIONS

  • Refer to our article “ Buy Organic Flowers for Your Health and the Planet's” when purchasing your Thanksgiving flower arrangements.
  • Use natural materials such as gourds, dried wheat stalks, fresh cut flowers, bright colored autumn leaves, pine cones, dried Indian corn cobs, cranberries, and apples to create spectacular, Earth-friendly centerpieces that will have your guests oohing and awing.
  • Illuminate your dinner plates and compliment your natural centerpiece with beeswax or soy candles. They won't emit harmful fumes like paraffin candles, and they won't cost as much as keeping your dining room lights on all day will.

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