How to Be Green This Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we all know how labor-intensive preparing for the big day can be. What we’re not always as aware of is how much extra waste we tend to generate. According to the EPA, household waste in the U.S. increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. With their heightened activity, the holidays too easily become a time to think less and waste more. This Thanksgiving, try giving thanks for the environment by adopting some of these easy tips to green your holiday.

Reduce Waste From Packaging and Disposable Items

Remember to bring your reusable bags along when shopping, and choose products with minimal packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. It’s easier to avoid waste by shopping at farmers’ markets, from fresh produce sections and from bulk bins. Canned foods might save you a little time, but they’re less eco-friendly than fresh produce.

At home, skip the aluminum tray and invest in a roasting pan instead. A roasting pan will last for a long time, and the aluminum trays getting tossed around the nation add up quickly. Break out your reusable dishes and silverware for the holiday instead of serving on disposable plates. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins — you’ll add elegance and reduce waste at the same time. Opt for tap water over bottled water when serving beverages, and avoid plastic wrap when storing leftovers by using reusable containers or glass jars instead.

When preparing your decorations, use natural objects such as gourds or pinecones to brighten your space. You can also make your own eco-friendly decor by cutting shapes out of old wrapping paper or construction paper, or having kiddos make figurines from Baker’s clay and color them using non-toxic paint.

Reduce Food Waste

Food is traditionally the centerpiece of this holiday, but consider preparing less food this year, especially if you’ve never been short. Buy a smaller bird, or skip a couple of unpopular side dishes. You can also try serving food on smaller plates, so that people are more likely to finish what they take instead of tossing it in the trash once they’re full. Come up with a plan for your leftovers ahead of time — you can find a lot of creative ideas online, such as these from Eat This Not That.

Think Local

Close to 50 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from their home on Thanksgiving. Reconsider your travel plans this year — see if you can stay close to home, carpool or celebrate with nearby friends or neighbors.

You can also shop for local, organic produce — from the bird you buy or the wine you bring, to farmer’s market produce or beeswax candles from a local boutique.

Reducing waste and recycling are important, but no matter how you choose to celebrate, remember to be thankful for who you’re with and all you have.