Every Thanksgiving, an estimated 95% of Americans spend the holiday with family, typically indulging in a large feast together. Between all the travel and food that goes into Thanksgiving, there are many opportunities for you to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are 10 ways you can have a more sustainable Thanksgiving:
1. Use reusable, biodegradable, or compostable dishes and cutlery rather than single-use disposables.
2. Choose local and organic ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, apples, pumpkins, potatoes, and, of course, turkey. Conventional produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from its original location to your plate. Choosing local ingredients can drastically decrease the carbon footprint of your meal.
3. Use real pumpkins (preferably local) instead of canned pumpkins for cooking or baking. They require zero packaging and fewer resources to produce.
4. Eat less meat. Meat production takes a huge toll on the environment. Shifting the emphasis away from the turkey and onto other meat-free dishes can be one of the most impactful ways to reduce the environmental impact of your meal. Check out our Pinterest for delicious meat-free main dish and side dish recipes to make your meal more green.
5. Eat less food. Food waste is a serious environmental issue. Being mindful about the amount of food you cook and eat can help significantly reduce food waste. Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council's Guest-imator to help you plan how much food to make!
6. Be smart with your leftovers. Tell guests to bring their own containers to take leftovers home, or invite friends or family over on the weekend to finish up your leftovers. Check out our Pinterest for some creative and tasty ways to utilize your Thanksgiving leftovers (such as mashed potato pizza and brunch frittata).
7. Take time to properly separate the waste from your meal into trash, recycling, and compost. Need some composting tips? Check out our Pinterest!
8. Rethink your travel plans. If you’re traveling, consider taking a train or bus rather than driving to reduce emissions. Also, try to take direct flights if possible—the most fuel is used during takeoff, so fewer takeoffs significantly reduce emissions. Check out our blog post Sustainable Holiday Travel Guide for more eco-friendly travel tips!
9. Use eco-friendly decorations. There are many ways to decorate your home for the Thanksgiving holiday without using plastic store-bought decorations. Bright-colored leaves, pinecones, pumpkins, and festive vegetables such as squashes can create the perfect fall aesthetic with zero plastic — and you can even find them in nature yourself for free! Check out our Pinterest for additional tips on crafting sustainable Thanksgiving decor.
10. Turn the thermostat down. With all the heat from the kitchen and your guests, your home should be plenty warm enough to allow turning the thermostat down a few degrees, which saves energy and can lower your utility bill.
While all of these are great ways to reduce your impact this Thanksgiving, the best thing you can do for the environment is to make the switch to clean energy. Give thanks to our planet by helping protect it for years to come!