Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season. It’s where we come together to show gratitude for our family and health. As you prepare to entertain loved ones, it’s also the perfect time to show appreciation and kindness to our environment. The Holiday season is filled with happiness, but unfortunately, it’s also a time of increased waste. And, this majorly affects our ecosystem.
According to the EPA, “Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American household waste increases by more than 25 percent”. Landfills become swamped with Thanksgiving dinner waste, holiday decor, and packaging. Our excess eating, shopping, and decorating can affect our environment even past the holiday season. So, this Thanksgiving 2021 let’s show gratefulness by celebrating not only our family but the environment by hosting a green Thanksgiving.
Here are 5 easy tips to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving.
Skip the Plastic Dinnerware
One of the best ways to help reduce waste during the holidays is to use grandma’s “good dishes”. Yep, you know the ones that only get used during the holidays. Yes…you will have more dishes to wash, however, this is perfect for setting the tone for a green Thanksgiving.
Maybe you don’t want to spend your evening cleaning up and rather use that time to bond with family. No problem, we get it! Therefore, try using biodegradable dinnerware. Disposable plates and cutlery made from renewable resources such as sugarcane and bamboo are also a great way to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving. Bamboo breaks down naturally in the trash and is more sustainable due to how quickly the plant cultivates. So, skip the plastic this season and give your thanksgiving a “greener” touch.
Go with Natural Decor
Enhance your holiday ambiance by using natural decor. You can decorate with items such as pine cones, acorns, corn husks, pomegranates, and leaves. You can even put those pumpkins leftover from Halloween to good use. Using spray paint in fall colors like maroon, plum or metallics you can transition these into sophisticated decorations. For place settings, cut old wine corks in half, add a small slit, and place a name card. You can even use this to identify the dishes for serving. Not to mention, after the holidays, you can reuse, recycle, or simply place these decorations back into nature. There are so many creative ways everyday items from home or nature can give your dinner decor a green Thanksgiving twist. It just takes thinking outside the box!
It’s always a great time to support small local businesses. However, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner at your local farmers’ market during this time can have double the impact. Shopping locally emits fewer greenhouse gases to reach the consumer and is typically grown on smaller farms using more sustainable practices. Not only are you helping the environment, but you’re also helping the local economy. By patronizing these businesses, you directly empower farmers in sustaining their land and creating job opportunities for the community. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Additionally, you get the freshest produce and expert advice on how to prepare or store your selections. But, you can get more than just produce at farmers’ markets. They offer everything from wines, bread, and dairy to meats and fish. This means it’s likely you can find your entire Thanksgiving dinner items in one place. Making this one of the best options for exploring ways to have a green Thanksgiving.
Planning for Thanksgiving dinner can be tiring and stressful. Creating a menu, guest list, decorating, and cleaning can leave you running out of time to even prepare food. Plus, if you wait too late or don’t plan, you risk wasting food and long lines at the stores. Thus, to help ensure you have a green Thanksgiving, planning ahead is essential.
According to Market Watch, “Americans throw away roughly $165 billion in uneaten food every year, according to government data. And about $293 million of that waste will happen during Thanksgiving — and that’s just for turkey alone.” When we discard food it goes into landfills where it releases methane and greenhouse gases.
Therefore, to minimize waste, review your menu prior to shopping and have guests RSVP to guarantee a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner. If you are hosting a potluck-style dinner, confirm with guests the dishes they will bring prior to shopping. This will help you avoid purchasing unnecessary items or food which may not be eaten due to dietary restrictions or other reasons.
We have all been there! Pans of leftover turkey, greens, potatoes, and stuffing sitting in your refrigerator after thanksgiving. So, what to do if you’ve had enough of eating the same reheated leftovers? We suggest repurposing your Thanksgiving leftovers and freezing foods not eaten within the next few days.
Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner. But even though we love them, we tire of them after a few days. Considering this, finding ways to repurpose and eat the leftovers may extend your tolerance to them a bit longer. You can make a tasty stock for soups, chilis, and stews, then freeze until you’re ready to use. There are also some fun ways to cut down on the amount of food wasted. Get creative and try these fun recipes that transform your Thanksgiving leftovers into new dishes the whole family will love.
Having a green Thanksgiving does not have to come with additional stress. Minor changes can make major differences. From sustainable dinnerware to Thanksgiving leftovers these sustainable tips will help you learn to more sustainable practices to apply throughout the holidays and beyond.