It’s that time of year again, and a recent survey found that 63% of Americans would rather not eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Many find the bird time-consuming to prepare, difficult to cook correctly, and would never eat the bird any other time of year, as there are more flavorful options. The poll results shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the world is starting to go more plant-based in response to ecological concerns, as well. So what’s the alternative?
Here are the top ten ways you can enjoy an earth-friendly holiday:
- Be conscious of packaging. Set a green example - take the kids shopping and make a game out of having a zero waste (or as close to it as possible) Thanksgiving. Look for staples in their natural, unpackaged state. Download this handy Zero Waste Thanksgiving guide. If the authors can host a package-free, full spread in their tiny home, you can too!
- Fill up your plate with sides, while eating less meat. According to Harvard’s EcoOpportunity Team, the meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, a major contributor to global warming. There are environmental impacts, as well. Fowl and pig farming waste is causing massive algal blooms in the ocean and creating dead zones due to fish leaving or dying off in the millions. The Amazon, as well as other large forested areas, are being razed at the rate of anywhere between 3-6 football fields per minute to create pasture areas just for beef cattle alone. This Thanksgiving, fill up your plate with salads, green beans, and squash, which are nutrient-dense, filling, and tasty alternatives.
- Make less food. Americans throw away $165 billion in uneaten food every year - with $293 million of that thrown away during Thanksgiving alone. Giant turkeys that don’t get eaten account for over 200 million pounds of wasted leftovers. The solution? Cook a smaller bird. Cutting holiday waste starts at the store.
- Instead of traveling, get outdoors. Tourism is responsible for one-tenth of the world’s carbon emissions. Taking a long walk or hike after a big Thanksgiving dinner can ward off the tryptophan-induced heaviness caused by turkey, as well, which is full of this amino acid.
- Buy local and/or organic whenever possible. Buying local ensures that the apples for your pie aren’t trucked in from thousands of miles away, and has the added benefit of putting money back into your community. Local producers are also often organic growers, too, if that’s important to you.
- Decorate with nature. Forget the petroleum-based plastic and synthetic decorations and dress up your table with natural and festive homemade decor. Fill clear vases with pinecones, acorns and colorful leaves. Check out this dreamy Pinterest board for natural Thanksgiving decor ideas.
- Use the good dishes and linens. Plastic ware fills up our landfills and takes a thousand years to decompose. Recruit help in advance from other family members to wash the dishes if it’s too much for one person. If you have to use disposable items, try going with disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils made from 100% post-consumer waste.
- Reduce your energy consumption. With the 8 kWh (4 or more hours) used to cook the average-sized holiday turkey, you could watch 40 hours of football. Try cooking multiple items in the oven simultaneously if they require the same temperature, and wait until the week of Christmas to string those lights up.
- Adopt a special green holiday tradition. November and December are busy times to go Christmas tree shopping. Instead of chopping down a tree, plant trees instead. Haul out a fake Christmas tree every year - they’re affordable, don’t shed, stay green, and are guilt-free. After you’ve decorated your faux tree, Google your local tree-planting initiative for your green outing, or donate to a reputable non-profit to do the same, such as the Nature Conservancy, whose goal is to plant one billion trees.
- Go easy on yourself. The holidays can be a stressful time, and ecological anxiety is real. We are often hard on ourselves for not doing enough. Keep doing the best you can, while incrementally adopting new habits. Here are 50 ways to go green which feature many easy-to-adopt ideas.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
About the author
As a strategic communicator at EAT Club, Leena Chitnis assists with everything from internal communications to social media and marketing. She has previously consulted for Ericsson, NetApp, PayPal, Salesforce, FOX Broadcasting Company and other major studios in Los Angeles. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and working on various inventions.