Simple Ideas To Make This Year's Thanksgiving More Sustainable

By K. Mya | November 2016

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Giving Thanks With The Earth In Mind

One of the best ways to show your thanks for the world and the environment around you is to live and eat sustainably. And Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks… and eating. With the abundance of food that is seen on tables throughout America each year on Thanksgiving, it has become a day of food waste. It almost seems impossible to keep up your sustainable lifestyle on Thanksgiving. However, there are a few ways that you can make this holiday a happy, plentiful and sustainable one. Here are a few tips to keep the earth happy this Thanksgiving!

1. Save a Turkey

Livestock farming takes up a lot of resources, so some people like to make a statement at Thanksgiving and cut out turkey altogether. If you go this route, you can instead serve tofu or a turkey substitute. If you’re feeling extra generous towards the turkey population, you can even adopt a turkey. This farm sanctuary rescues animals and offers families a new Thanksgiving tradition.

If you’re not quite feeling like you can cut turkey out of your meal entirely (or if your family won’t let you), try to find a local turkey to buy instead of one raised in a factory farm. Buying a turkey from a local supplier will support sustainable farming practiced and keep the money out of the large farming companies.

2. Buy Local Veggies

There are tons of delicious vegetables that are in season just in time for Thanksgiving. When you’re grocery shopping and picking out your vegetables, make sure you choose ones that are grown locally. These will have less of an impact on the environment and are still just as yummy, if not better!

Some of the best veggies that are in season for fall include sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Also, pumpkins and apples are great additions to any Thanksgiving meal and they can be served in a wide variety of ways. Pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds and apple cider are all sustainable and delicious options.

3. Donate and Save

Around Thanksgiving, everybody starts to donate food to local food banks and shelters, which is great. However, these places get overloaded around the holidays and then experience a shortage during the other times of the year. To truly help fight hunger in your neighborhood, try committing to a monthly donation to the food bank so that you are helping all year long. Or, donate instead to a group like Meals on Wheels that might not receive the bulk of the donations from people around Thanksgiving.

Also, it’s not Thanksgiving without the leftovers. If you find yourself with an overwhelming amount of leftovers that everybody refuses to take home or eat, don’t just throw it in the garbage. Begin a compost area where you can throw leftovers all throughout the year so that this food goes back into the environment instead of ending up in junkyards. You can even use this compost to create dirt and grow your own fruits and vegetables to be even more earth-friendly.

4. Be a Responsible Water User

Americans use a lot of water every day, but especially on Thanksgiving. Between all of the cooking, dish-washing, hand-washing and cup-filling that happens on the holiday, the water supply takes an extra hit. Be sure to only have the tap running when you’re actually using it. Don’t use more water than you have to.

Also, don’t serve bottled water. The chemicals and plastic waste that water bottles create are not worth it. Use water from the tap. You can even get a filter for your faucet that will give your tap water better quality.

5. Eat Out

If cooking for Thanksgiving is just too much for you, there are still ways to make your holiday a sustainable one! Choose a restaurant that focuses on serving locally grown food and supporting sustainable practices. There are more of these restaurants than you think! All it takes is a little bit of research. Eating Thanksgiving dinner at one of these restaurants is a win-win situation, because your family will be helping the environment and you won’t have to clean up!

This Thanksgiving, take the initiative to serve a sustainable meal! It’s not that difficult. All it takes is a few responsible choices to give your family a healthy and satisfying meal that will make the earth happy and healthy as well.