If you’re like millions of other American families this morning, your Thanksgiving preparations are probably well underway. But thankfully, there’s still time to make a few last minute changes to ensure your Thanksgiving celebration is as eco-friendly as possible.
Other than turkey, keep it plant-based.
While vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners are on the rise, many families will obviously still serve turkey as their main dish. For point of reference, in 2012, it was estimated that 46 million turkeys were consumed on Thanksgiving. While turkey is not the worst meat in terms of its carbon footprint, it certainly makes an impact. So if you can’t avoid serving turkey this year—and few could blame you, if that’s the case—try to make it the only meat dish you offer. You really don’t need turkey and ham, do you?
Shop locally and buy organic.
If you’re just now realizing that you’ve forgotten a few last-minute items, evaluate your shopping options: are any local vendors open today? Whenever possible, travel to the closest shopping location (eliminating unnecessary “food miles” really does add up). Once you’re at the store, try to opt for organic choices if your wallet will allow it.
Bonus tips: always buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of their canned alternatives, and bring your own bags when you shop.
Nix the plastic.
Hoping to avoid a mess by providing plastic utensils, cups, or plates? Serving soda or other drinks that come in plastic bottles? These options might be convenient, but they’re not very eco-friendly. Use your own dishes, silverware, glasses, and buy beverages in glass bottles instead (but definitely encourage friends and family members to help out when it comes to cleanup).
Bonus tip: invest in a glass or ceramic roasting pan instead of using the disposal ones, and provide napkins made of cloth instead of paper.
Keep electricity abuse under control.
If the weather is a bit chilly where you are, dress in warm layers, wool socks, and comfy sweaters instead of cranking up the heat. Turn down some of the lights and utilize warm, ambient candlelight during dinner. And once the game has finally ended, why not turn the TV off altogether and bring out cards and board games instead?
Bonus tip: turn off the heat altogether and make good use of a fireplace (if you have one) or residual warmth from the oven.
Don’t throw food out.
When preparing a dish, think it through: how much do you really need to make? Try the “less is more” approach whenever possible. And if you still end up with a ton of leftovers, don’t fret; break out the tupperware and send food home with every willing attendee (just be sure to remind them to return your tupperware at some point). In most cases, your friends and family members will be more than willing to oblige.
Bonus tip: find recipes ahead of time that will allow you to reuse your leftovers.
At the end of the day, the Earth we call home provided the bounty we’re about to consume—so it’s worthwhile to incorporate these simple tips to show some gratitude. From the Hazardous Waste Experts family to yours, we wish you a happy (and eco-friendly) Thanksgiving!