It may not be the first color you associate with autumn, but why not consider adding some green to your Thanksgiving to show Mother Earth you’re grateful for all she provides? Here are some tips via DoSomething:
Rally the troops. Being eco-aware is everyone’s job, so involve your entire family. Chances are they’ll be more likely to buy into the concept if you include them, and a family approach can create good eco-habits and be a lot of fun too.
Go local and orgo. We’ve heard that each ingredient in the average Turkey Day dinner travels 1500 miles to get to your table. Talk about an insane carbon footprint! Unfortunately, organic is a wee bit expensive and not all of us can afford it, especially not in this economy. But, did you know that there are some veggies and fruits you don’t have to buy organic? You should always buy the organic kind of those foods that are notorious for having the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones. Check out our list here.
Skip the turkey! Raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease and pesticides to grow the grain fed to the animals. If these compounds enter the environment, which they often do, they pose numerous risks including polluting groundwater. And let's not talk about what happens to our bodies when we consume these products! So how about holding off on the turkey this year? Vegetarian meals have a much smaller impact on the planet, and with so many veggie recipe options from which to choose, you won’t even miss the big bird.
Choose eco-friendly dinnerware. If every family in the U.S. bought one less package of paper plates a year, we could save almost half a million trees. Reusable plates, utensils and cups reduce the waste your meal creates. If you’re feeding dozens of people, you may have to purchase enough plates and utensils for everyone. So what to use if reusables won’t work for you? How about dinnerware made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, sugarcane, and corn – and all are compostable, to boot. And don't forget to plan ahead for the mountain of leftovers by having reusable containers on hand.
Scent your home with earth-friendly holiday spices. Those traditional air fresheners aren’t exactly green, and, believe it or not, green options can actually be cheaper. You can always boil whole cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove. And to conserve energy, simply place all the items in a bowl of boiling water, off of the flame of course.
Decorate with nature. You can create your own eco-friendly decorations to adorn your dinner table to avoid buying products you’ll probably toss at the end of the evening. Go on a treasure hunt for natural materials you can use to bring the harvest feeling inside. Branches, berries, rose hips, leaves, pine cones and gourds are just a few ideas.
Remember the three Rs. Keep the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra in mind; when the fiesta is over, the opportunity for being eco-savvy is still going strong. Many items can be given new life after they’ve been used. Send those leftovers home in pre-rinsed glass spaghetti sauce jars, and return your natural décor pinecones back to nature.
Compost your leftover meal scraps. You may not live on a farm or even somewhere with a small yard, but you can still compost. Composting is simply allowing organic matter to decay and return to the soil, rather than tossing it in the garbage. Doing so can reduce household waste by up to 30%!
Stick to home base. More than 65 million Americans travel away from home for Thanksgiving every year. This creates a massive amount of greenhouse gases and air pollution, so why not consider choosing a central location for your family get together that’s closest to all revelers? If you’re staying in town, leave the car at home and take public transportation. If you’re planning to head out of town, consider traveling by train or bus, which create far fewer emissions per passenger than traveling alone in a car or taking a plane. But if your destination is too far-flung, go for an airline with environmental policies in place. And if all else fails, buy carbon offsets to give financial support to carbon-cutting projects (like wind farms, biomass ventures, and initiatives that destroy the potent greenhouse gas methane) to help negate the carbon emissions created by your travel. That's something the earth will thank you for.
Stay home on Black Friday. The busiest shopping day of the year is a waste of gas! And think about it, do you really want to spend this day battling crowds when you could spend it relaxing or hanging out with your family and friends. This will be so much more rewarding than a day of shopping.
This season, be a part of a new Thanksgiving tradition - adopt a turkey! You can rescue a turkey from a thankless fate at the dinner table by either sponsoring a turkey for a one time $25 fee (about the same price a frozen turkey costs) or providing one with a safe, loving home. Check out FarmSanctuary.org for more details.