Thanksgiving is a cherished holiday for many Americans. It's a time to gather with family and friends for a nice dinner and to give thanks.
Unfortunately, this season of thanksgiving may also be a time of waste. According to studies, Americans generate 25% more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
Food waste contributes significantly to this, since it ends up in landfills, generating methane gas and contributing to climate change. According to some estimates, 6 million turkeys are thrown away each year!
We, like you, recognize that it does not have to be this way. So, here are seven suggestions to help you make your Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) more sustainable and eco-friendly! You won't even have to give up a single mouthful of (over)indulgence.
Consider incorporating these ideas into your family's Thanksgiving traditions; the world will be grateful.
1. PREVENT FOOD WASTE BY PLANNING AHEAD.
While everyone enjoys Thanksgiving leftovers, having too much food frequently ends in part of it being thrown out.
Spending some time laying out the proper quantity of food might help you prevent food wastage. Coordination with your visitors ahead of time will allow you to know what everyone will bring (and don't forget to ask them to bring reusable containers to take leftovers home!).
You may also seek for recipes that will help you use up your ingredients more efficiently. For example, if you're creating something that requires 1.5 cups of broth, find another item that requires.5 cup to use up the balance of your stock.
2. BUY LOCAL!
Local shopping is environmentally beneficial since the less distance your food needs to travel to reach you, the less environmental effect it has.
Find a farmers' market near you so you can get fresh foods directly from local producers! Look for farms that sell (and sometimes distribute) vegetables directly to consumers. And you may almost certainly locate a nearby turkey farm to provide the customary main course.
A BONUS: Local fruit is generally organic and tastes better! You receive it soon after it's gathered since it doesn't have to travel far, so it's incredibly fresh and full of nutrients.
It may be tempting to save time by purchasing prepared items at the grocery store. However, creating meals from scratch rather than purchasing packaged products is an excellent method to lessen your carbon impact. If you do go shopping, carry your reusable totes and avoid using plastic produce bags!
3. INSTRUCT YOUR CLEANUP TEAM TO RECYCLE AND COMPOST.
Your Thanksgiving feast does not have to be wasteful. Aside from utilizing reusable containers for leftovers, you may provide your guests with decorative linen napkins instead of paper napkins and avoid using paper towels while cleaning up.
Make sure your visitors understand where to recycle as well – keep your recycling bins out with clear directions on what goes where. Recycle the metal tray that many of us use to bake the turkey!
And Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to compost! Compostable sides include potatoes, maize, green beans, pumpkins, cranberries, and bread, as long as they are devoid of animal proteins. Composting is an environmentally friendly approach to decrease food waste while also adding nutrient-rich soil to your garden. Remember, if you leave seeds in your pumpkins, you may have your own pumpkin patch the next year!
4. CONSIDER EXPERIMENTING WITH MORE PLANT-BASED MEALS.
It's no secret that meat production contributes significantly to climate change. Even if turkey is the star of your Thanksgiving feast, you can lessen your carbon footprint by using additional plant-based components and dishes.
Try substituting olive oil for butter, vegetable broth for chicken broth, and coconut milk for dairy in your mashed potatoes.
Alternatively, just request that your vegetarian or vegan guests bring a few tasty plant-based treats!
5. CREATE A FESTIVE SENSE WITH NATURAL DECOR!
You may still create a pleasant, festive ambiance in your house without spending money on holiday decorations, which are often composed of plastic and end up in landfills.
Instead, use natural materials such as colorful leaves, pumpkins, gourds, dried corn husks, apples, acorns, pinecones, and pine branches to create a warm, autumn vibe for your table centerpiece.
You'll save money by not spending money on decorations and will be able to restore everything to nature afterward.
You may also explore online for fun DIY ideas that enable you to upcycle household things into festive Thanksgiving décor if you have children or are feeling creative!
6. TAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL.
Millions of Americans travel for Thanksgiving, and anybody who has done so knows how packed airports are and how horrible traffic can be during that week.
Consider how you may lessen your carbon impact if you're traveling this Thanksgiving. Instead of flying or driving, consider taking the bus or rail. You may also drive on off-peak days to save gas by not waiting in traffic.
If you find holiday travel too stressful or costly, forgo it and plan to travel every other year for Thanksgiving. Instead, you may start your own custom with friends or neighbors!
7. REMINISCE ON WHAT YOU'RE THANKFUL FOR AND PAY IT FORWARD.
Helping others and giving back to your community is a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
You may aid a local food bank or homeless shelter by donating or volunteering to serve meals. Look around your area for older community members who aren't physically able to go food shopping (or just ask them over to your feast!).
There's a reason volunteer labor goes so well with Thanksgiving, and it's because volunteering is a very American tradition. It's been a part of our history and culture from the beginning. It's as traditional as apple pie. What could be a more wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving?