12 Ways to Have a Green Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a week away and it is the perfect time to share our 12 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving.
Green Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is earth-friendly in many ways – carpooling, one kitchen cooking for multiple people uses less energy than if everyone cooked their own meal at home and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving recipes that require only simple locally available ingredients are just a few examples of how Thanksgiving is already green.

Here are 12 ways to celebrate sustainably:

1.  Skip the factory farmed turkey.

Factory farmed turkeys are raised in crowded pens, packed full of antibiotics and hormones and injected with oil, salt water and/or flavoring to improve their palatability.  Instead, opt for a heritage (best),  organic or free-range turkey.

To find a heritage turkey try Heritage Foods USA, visit Local Harvest or check Whole Foods for Mary’s Turkeys.

2.  Forgo the turkey entirely.

Why not skip the Tryptophan-induced coma and eliminate the turkey completely?  Forgoing meat products reduces the environmental impact of your diet.   Meat production causes more environmental harm than any other food.  Read more about the Economic and Environmental Impact of Meat Consumption here.

Instead of turkey, try a Tofurky or a vegetarian lentil loaf as your main dish.  Our family members (vegetarians and meat eaters alike) have enjoyed the Tofurky Feast for the last 5 or 6 Thanksgivings.  The kids love it too –  my son started jumping up and down with excitement when we picked up our Tofurky last week.  As an added bonus, Turtle Island Foods, Inc., the company who created Tofurky, is a long time opponent of genetically engineered foods and their products only contain non-GMO ingredients.  Read more here.  If Tofurky isn’t your thing, a lentil loaf is another traditional vegetarian holiday recipe.

3.  Buy organic.

Use organic ingredients in your Thanksgiving cooking to reduce the environmental impact of your feast.

4.  Shop locally.

Purchase locally grown and locally produced products for your Thanksgiving feast by shopping at farmers markets.  For a list of farmers markets by day in the Los Angeles area click here.  To find a farmers market in other parts of the United States visit the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Directory.

5.  Save and share your leftovers.

Saving leftovers reduces waste sent to the landfill and will help minimize meal preparation (and possibly reduce energy consumption) for the next couple of days.

6.  Compost your scraps.

Composting is another way to reduce waste sent to the landfill.  Composting is wonderful for your garden and soil and is also a great way to avoid non-organic soil amendments.

7.  Use reusable dinnerware and storage containers.

Fight the urge to save cleanup time by using disposable goods that will end up in the landfill and opt for your good dinnerware (it’s a celebration after all!) and reusable storage containers instead.  My favorite resuable food storage containers are glass bowls with tops like these Duralex glass storage bowls:


Skip the aluminum foil and plastic wrap while you’re at it – if your storage containers don’t have tops, try wax paper or 100% recycled aluminum foil.

8.  Decorate with natural materials.

Take the kids outside and gather beautiful fall leaves or pine cones for your table.
Autumn Leaves Green Thanksgiving

9.  Remember your reusable shopping bags.

Thanksgiving inevitably means lots of trips to farmers markets and grocery stores to stock up for your feast.  Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags!

10.  Recycle.

During the hustle and bustle of the days before and Thanksgiving day it’s easy to forget to recycle.  Make it simple by having containers for recyclables in convenient locations for you and your guests.

11.  Turn off the TV.

Instead of planting yourself or your guests in front of the tube, start a new family tradition and go play a game of football outside or enjoy a game or cards or a boardgame.  Winner gets the Tofurky Wishstix :-).

12.  Give thanks.

Last, but not least, remember to be thankful for everything you have on Thanksgiving.  Appreciating what we have and our beautiful Earth is what being green is all about.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How is your Thanksgiving eco-friendly?

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