by Jamie Schmid
Goodbye October, hello November! And with November comes the start of the holiday season! But, amongst the craziness of Thanksgiving, Christmas,Hanukkah and Kwanza, it’s important to remember your friend the Earth. She is always there for you, and now it is time for you to be there for her. Here are 6 tips for a more sustainable Thanksgiving that will surely make the planet a little happier during the holidays.
1. Buy Local, Buy Organic
That Libby’s premade pumpkin puree may be staring at you from the supermarket shelf, but you can resist it! Instead of buying those canned cranberries and that delicious, glistening, and sticky store-made pecan pie, venture outside to the nearest farmers market. Pick up a locally grown pumpkin, roast it, and make your own pumpkin pie. Give the pre-made stuff a run for its money. Sadly, the farmers market does not sell all your Thanksgiving needs, so, when you wander back into the supermarket: buy organic. Not only will the food taste better, but it will also contain less chemicals and pesticides. Your guests will be happy and healthy.
2. A Turkey in a China Shop
I’m sure Grandma Susie’s old china is lonely in a cupboard somewhere, and wants to see the light of the day. This Thanksgiving, bring that ancient china back into the light. During the holidays, we use plastic and paper to no end. Make a change, and go for the real plates and the real spoons. If you don’t have china lying around, check out Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma. Yes, you may be out two hundred dollars, but that turkey plate will last you a lifetime (and become your new best friend).
3. Go Vegetarian! (Or go semi-vegetarian)
Let’s be honest, Tofurky gives many people the heebie jeebies, myself included. And other vegetarian “proteins” can be equally as scary. Don’t make a quinoa turkey, just don’t. Instead, just opt for vegetarian sides. We sometimes overdo it with meat in the US. According to the United Nations, raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” It’s not necessary to have a turkey with a side of grilled sausages, roast pork, and hot dogs. Go for some solid vegetable sides, and avoid the Tofurky in the process!
4. Tupperware is Your Friend
Thanksgiving leftovers are things of legends. They cause wars, heartbreak, and battle scars. This Thanksgiving, make a new rule: every person brings a reusable container from home. That way you don’t have to waste plastic wrap, disposable plates, and to-go bags. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, we throw away about 35% of the turkey that we make at Thanksgiving. That is a lot of food going into landfills and trashcans. Instead, make less food or just make sure your guests bring reusable containers. Let your turkey end up in the depths of your stomach, not the trashcan.
5. Embrace your Inner (Hippie) Martha Stewart
I know it is very tempting to buy Thanksgiving decorations. They are classy, and colorful, and just so gosh darn cute. But his year, instead of buying that paper turkey centerpiece that you’re probably going to throw out, go “au naturelle.” Explore outside and collect some leaves, branches, and pinecones. Glue colorful leaves onto an old glass vase or stick name cards into pinecones. Nature will provide all the materials; you just need to get creative.
As I grow older, I recognize the importance of family more and more. As kids we often take for granted the time spent with loved ones, and I’m now finding that I miss those carefree family moments. So put that phone away, put that computer away, and stop thinking about your final exams! Enjoy, relax, and take a breath this Thanksgiving. Appreciate your family for all they do, and for who they are. You will never have another.