There are so many things to get ready for! It’s overwhelming, right?
Well, maybe this year will be different. Maybe this year you can be greener since you are already planning in advance and you actually have time to do some green planning. I posted a few holiday ideas last year…you can read them here, here, here, and so on and so forth…go take a peek! But enough of last year…this is 2013, baby! We need to send it off in style! A more environmentally-friendly and healthier style, that is.
So…where to begin?
At this stage in the holiday games…Thanksgiving is first usually pretty easy, right…it’s all about food! Some green tips:
1. Go Local! Try to buy as much of your menu ingredients as you can from your local farmer’s market, or from a grocery store that sources produce and meat from your local region. Of course, there are special dishes traditional to Thanksgiving like cranberry sauce and pecan pies and apple pies and whatever might be your family’s favorite that are just never going to be local to you. That’s fine, but do what you can.
Why? Not only will you support your local economy and hard-working farmers, but you save the environmental impact of whatever fuel it costs to get the food to you–that’s a smaller carbon footprint and reduced greenhouse gasses! And you know…it wouldn’t hurt to be adventurous and introduce more local ingredients to your Thanksgiving table, even if they aren’t “traditional.” Mix it up a little! Make NEW traditions!
2. Be vegetarians! GASP! I know, I know…but seriously folks…we all know the sides are the best part of the meal and most sides are already vegetarian. When I first told my parents I was not eating meat anymore, they sort of panicked about what I was going to eat, but when my plate was full of potatoes, dressing, three different salads, green beans, candied applies, and a big ol’ roll, I told them, “Look, I don’t even have room for the meat!” And they got it. Surprise, surprise!
Why? Livestock and poultry production is problematic in a variety of ways. It is beyond an environmental stressor. Do a little research of your own. Start here. And the animals are all so beautiful. And who wants to stress out about a dry turkey? Just skip it. And if you really want to have an even more positive impact on the environment…it might be a little bit harder…but try a vegan meal. Maybe not this Thanksgiving, but next? I’ll just let you ponder that…
3. Decorate (if you are into that sort of thing) with…food! Fruits and veggies are traditional fillers for a Thanksgiving cornucopia, all in the harvest theme, of course. The thing with this type of decor is, of course, it’s edibility. You can also use fall leaves, branch and twig cuttings, pinecones, berries on the stem, and the like. It’s rustic, it’s compostable, it’s very possibly FREE, and in the spirit of the season. Maybe you even saved some of those gourds and pumpkins from Halloween…plunk them in a pretty bowl, line them up on the mantel, or place them on the porch. Heck, set them in the fireplace with candles and make a sweet substitute for a fire (especially advised if you live in not so chilly parts of the country, yet find yourself with a fireplace). I like this:
Why? It’s cheaper than fake decorations made of plastic or styrofoam or the like. It also had a much smaller environmental impact in its creation since nature made it with sunlight, soil, and water. It better represents the true spirit of the harvest celebration that gave origins to the holiday. It’s totally compostable, as long as you don’t paint your natural products with toxic paints or glitter, and you can potentially grow your own pumpkins/gourds next year! And let’s face it…it’s sooooooo super easy. I am so about the least amount of stress!
4. If you have to use disposable plates or cups (heaven forbid!), for goodness sake, use paper-based or otherwise compostable products.
Why? It’s compostable, way less toxic than the chemicals used to make plastic and styrofoam, and it keeps those non-compostable products out of the environment and out of the landfill. Even paper products have a pretty nasty chemical trail, but there are reasonable, non-bleached products out there that have less of an impact than plastics and foam-based products. You can also find some corn-based “plastics” that are compostable and perfect for one time usage. Regular plates and glasses/cups are preferable, of course, because you can just wash them and be done with it. But I get it…you might not have enough place settings for ALL of your guests…it makes sense for such an occasional situation to have a temporary solution.
5. And finally, go organic! If you can get organic ingredients, do it.
Why? Organic ingredients are often fresher, though possibly superficially flawed. Don’t let a few spots deter you from that organic apple…you’re probably going to peel them anyway for that pie, right? Organic ingredients also lack potential toxic chemicals that some non-organic foods may contain. The fewer toxins you consume, the healthier you will be in the long run. And the fewer toxins used in growing the food, the healthier the environment will be. Also…and maybe this is just some kind of placebo effect…I think organic foods taste better. YUM!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone…I hope you find other ways to be green this holiday!