It can be easy to forget being green amid a frenzy of menu-planning, grocery shopping, and family hobnob that occurs before most Thanksgiving festivities. With all the time, money, and effort you put into this yearly celebration, why not make this Thanksgiving a little greener, and a little less stressful. Following are a few ways to bring environmental benefits into your family’s holiday—without cutting on the fun.
On a day where ample piles of food are as routine as Friday night football, reducing waste can seem overwhelming and impossible. Creating a greener Thanksgiving is easier than you think. Start with step one. Before you begin to make your menu, take a shopping spree in your pantry. Use what is available and form your ‘carte de jour’ around it. Help the chef out and make it a priority to do something that will reduce the harsh impact on the globe. According to Slow Food USA—a Brooklyn nonprofit dedicated to change the way America thinks about food—one third of food goes to waste. This adds up to 15 percent of landfill space. Take action against waste by using leftovers in creative new dishes. Incorporate veggie scraps and meats in gravies, soups and sauces. Don’t forget to compost what’s left. Make sure you and your family take steps to reduce as much as you can. Every bit counts!
Thanksgiving turkey is what everyone looks forward to. It’s the main component to every great feast. But have you ever thought about your main dish’s impact on the planet? Most turkeys for consumption are factory produced in inhumane conditions. The average American consumes 17 pounds of turkey meat a year, resulting in the annual slaughter of 252 million turkeys. If you are still planning to have that turkey on your table, choose Heritage turkey. Heritage birds are raised naturally. Although they are slower-growing, they are given lots of care and are much healthier than factory produced turkey. For planet-friendly turkey that won’t break the bank, try other alternatives like organic, free-range or pastured turkeys instead, and buy from a local farmer whenever possible. If you and your family are willing to try a greener option, avoid meats and make a vegan-inspired meal that will make everyone grateful. Harvest compassion this Thanksgiving with an animal-friendly feast!
If someone on your guest list is vegetarian or vegan, cooking may seem difficult. Sure, you could just whip up a “tofurkey”, but why not plan a mouth-watering dish based on local ingredients instead? Pumpkin-based items are aways pleasers and can be applied in breads, stuffings, pastas and pies. Pumpkins are hearty and filling and found locally and in-seasons in most regions of the country. Vegetarians really miss out on those rich, savory gravies. To create veggie gravies that rival meat-rich parts, use ingredients like mushrooms. It’ll keep your guests wanting more, in turn, reducing the waste of the coming week.
Go Loco for Local
Feeding a huge gang of family and friends can get pricey. Luckily, farmers markets are your neighborhood gems. The myth that farmers markets are more costly than your local grocer keep shoppers away. In reality, these markets are actually more affordable than supermarket chains. Choosing items grown locally reduces the need for transportation and lowers the price (and your carbon footprint) of your meal. Using veggie scraps and the entire turkey will help save wads of cash. If you’re feeling like cost is the problem, have a potluck, and invite everyone to bring one dish. It’s a great way to get to know your friends better.
Even if you don’t take care of Thanksgiving meals, ease some stress off of mom or dad. Help in the kitchen and share your newly-gained knowledge. Take care of the grocery shopping and use whatever home goods are already stocked in the fridge. Who knows, your mom might reward you with an extra slice of her creamy pumpkin pie.