Celebrate an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

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During Thanksgiving, we gather together with our family and friends to share a delicious meal and give thanks. As you reflect upon all that you are grateful for in life, don’t forget to thank Mother Earth for always providing for us! Show your gratitude for our planet by making environmentally-friendly choices when celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

Food and Drinks

What you eat greatly impacts your ecological footprint. The production of meat is associated with high greenhouse gas emissions, however, buying food that is produced on the other side of the country isn’t much better. This year, challenge yourself to fill your table with all homemade dishes that use local and organic ingredients.  Since this is a lot to take on, invite your guests to help you by encouraging them to bring their own homemade dishes rather than buying pre-prepared food at the store. Farmers’ Markets are a great place to begin gathering your ingredients! If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, then I suggest buying from small, local businesses. It’s important to support your locals!

When it comes to buying a turkey, try to choose a free-range, organic turkey. If you plan to prepare a vegetarian feast this year, you might want to consider trying tofurkey. I personally prefer not to eat “fake meat” because they usually tend to be highly processed, however, some of my classmates really enjoy their Thanksgiving tofurkey! When it comes to side dishes, have more vegetable dishes than meat dishes. Salads, green beans, sweet potatoes, yams, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, squash, cornbread, vegetarian/vegan stuffing, vegetarian/vegan gravy…the options are endless!

Make use of your water pitcher during your party and avoid buying plastic water bottles. As for other beverages, try your best to buy them in bulk. For example, buy the two liter bottles of soda rather than a case of soda cans or bottles. If you enjoy beer, buy growlers full of your favorite beers from a local brewery.

Tableware

When you’re hosting Thanksgiving, it’s very tempting to buy all disposable tableware because it’ll save you time when cleaning up. Since it seems like most people do resort to disposable tableware, think about all of the waste that is generated on Thanksgiving day every year. If you choose to use reusable plates, cups, utensils and napkins, just put your dishwasher to good use to help with the clean-up!

If you do chose to use disposable tableware, only purchase biodegradable products. If everything is biodegradable, you can line all your trash bins with biodegradable bags and then you can toss everything is the compost when the party is over. Not only will you have less to clean up, but everything can be composted, yay! However, keep in mind that a lot of energy and resources goes into composting, so do use reusable tableware if you can. Stay away from plastic and styrofoam tableware because they’ll sit in the landfill forever, literally.

If you’re attending a Thanksgiving party that only has disposal cups, plates and utensils, just be mindful of how much you consume. For example, grabbing a new plate, fork and napkin every time to decide that you want a little more to eat isn’t exactly a great option. Better yet, bring your own set of reusable utensil with you!

Leftovers

As your Thanksgiving celebration comes to an end, you might discover that you have more leftovers then you can handle. Here are some simple suggestions to make sure that you limit your food waste!

  • Share your leftovers. Prior to your party, invite your guests to bring their own Tupperware so that they can take home leftovers. This is the easiest way to make sure that all that extra food doesn’t go to waste. If you go out to eat and often come home with leftovers, save your food containers. Your guests can pack their food in these containers if they didn’t forgot to bring their own. Some people like to buy to-go containers when they host a party. If you choose to do this, avoid styrofoam and plastic. Buy biodegradable to-go containers instead. If you still have a lot of food left over, check to see if any local food banks will accept your Thanksgiving leftovers. If not, you can always share with your neighbors, co-workers and friends.
  • Freeze what you can’t eat. If you know that you’re not going to finish all your food in the fridge, don’t just let it spoil. Freeze it instead! When you get home late from a long day of school or work, you’ll thank yourself.
  • Use your leftovers to create new meals. Sometimes we eat so much throughout Thanksgiving day that we don’t want to keep eating the same food for the next few days. Be creative and use your leftovers to create new meals! Turkey leftovers are great for making soup. Make a nice frittata, hash or mashed potato waffles for breakfast. Get creative!

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