This time of year is all about gathering with loved ones and expressing gratitude. And in the U.S., gratitude is best expressed in the form of food. Thanksgiving is the embodiment of this tradition, and this time of year is full of more friends, family, and food than most people know what to do with.
Even the most well-intentioned holidays can lead to excess, and this excess likely goes against your sustainability goals. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal while keeping it green and eco-friendly. The following are some of the many ways to throw a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner.
Buy organic meat and produce.
Whenever possible, purchase locally-grown organic produce for your delicious Thanksgiving dishes. As for the meat, grass-fed is generally best. This may be tough if your committed to turkey, but there are lots of sustainable meats to choose from. Beef from grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and E. As for the turkey, opt for a free-range bird.
Use reusable plates and utensils.
While paper plates and plastic utensils offer convenience, these items are a significant source of waste. Instead, serve food on reusable or ceramic plates. Whoever didn’t help with the cooking can clean them. Easy, right?
Decorate with natural materials.
Store-bought Thanksgiving decorations tend to adorn the table for one day before landing in the garbage. This year, try decorating with natural materials instead. One of the best decorating tricks is to choose three colors for the event theme and then use them for all of the decor items. The oranges, browns, and greens found in nature are perfect for your entire Thanksgiving color scheme and centerpieces.
In a recent study, the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association found that 60% of grillers cook outside throughout the entire year. This can be a great way to cook more sustainability, as long as you stay away from gas-powered grills. Instead, try cooking over a fire or woodstove. Food tends to taste better when it was cooked outdoors, so your taste buds and the environment will win.
Compost any cooking scraps.
The simple act of cooking is one of the most significant sources of Thanksgiving waste. When cooking a big meal, food scraps pile up. Instead of throwing them in the garbage, compost them instead. If you don’t already compost at home, contact your local compost companies about pickup and dropoff services.
Remember to say thanks.
Gratitude does not produce any waste. Take the time this year to pull the focus off of material items and onto the act of giving thanks and cherishing the people you love.
“If distance or circumstances prevent you from spending Thanksgiving with some of the people you love, call, email or write them a letter (on recycled paper) to tell them why they mean so much to you and how they make your world a better place,” Larry West writes in ThoughtCo.
By spreading the love to both your dear ones and the planet, you will have a wonderfully nourishing Thanksgiving Day.