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Celebrating Thanksgiving: Eco-friendly edition

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ZEETZ JONES | CREATIVE COMMONS

Our (Almost Traditional) Thanksgiving Dinner

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NOVEMBER 21, 2022

As mid-November hits, the season for Thanksgiving is brewing in the air. I’m letting go of my witch hat, albeit slightly reluctantly, in favor of a hand-shaped paper turkey. Preparations have been made to go home and watch football, resulting in my dad explaining to me the rules for about the one hundredth time.

Thanksgiving has connotations of cornucopias, endless amounts of food and family time. Considering this, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the holiday has a large environmental impact.

While gearing up for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, be conscientious about the ways you can show your gratitude to the earth, the environment that we call home. It can be easy to make your celebrations more eco-friendly, and these adjustments can even save you money and time. Here’s a list of a few tips to keep in mind while you move through Thanksgiving week.

Travel smart

Even before the feasting begins, most of us have to pile into cars or board planes to get to our gatherings of choice. A good way to reduce emissions is to travel before rush hour or peak transportation times. Idling in traffic isn’t only annoying, it also leads to unnecessary production of carbon dioxide. If you can, consider walking, biking or taking public transportation to your celebrations.

Prepare plant-based dishes

Even outside of the holiday season, eating less meat is one of the best things you can do for the environment. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, or even vegetarian, but cutting out a few meat meals a week makes a huge impact. Turkeys take more land, water and food to raise than vegetables do, so replacing your main dish with a plant based alternative is a simple step in turning your Thanksgiving into a sustainable feast. If cutting out meat isn’t viable for your needs, even opting for a smaller chicken is an easy alternative.

Use reusable dishware

Instead of buying paper plates and plastic utensils, gather as many dishes as you can that are washable. Another option can be going for compostable alternatives to typical single-use items, although they can be more pricey than using the dishes that you already own. It adds personality to your display if there’s an assortment of plate styles and reusable napkins. You can even make your event BYOC: bring your own cup.

Compost scraps and save leftovers

Food waste is a triggering topic, for me as well as many other people struggling with disordered eating habits around the holidays. But there are many other ways to deal with extra food that don’t involve the shame of trashing leftovers. First off, composting any scraps and unsalvable food is an easy waste management technique. You can bring your extras to a collection site or start a pile in your backyard. Another great way to manage food waste is to save as many leftovers as you can and reuse them for future meals. This method will also save money on meal prep. Freeze anything you don’t think you’ll eat soon and you can have Thanksgiving dinner for weeks and months to come.

Avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

I realize that avoiding the post-Thanksgiving sales can be impossible for many people, as it makes products much more affordable. However, these days inherently encourage overconsumption and support the capitalist systems that ultimately accelerate climate change. The sales cause people to buy items they end up not needing, which leads to more waste in the long run. If you’re in the position to avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I highly motivate you to do so.

Even using just one of these ideas to host or attend an eco-friendly Thanksgiving celebration can be beneficial to the earth. I’ll conclude with promoting one final, very easy, way to make your holidays more sustainable: Spend time outside! Appreciate nature and the ecosystems that you live in and who knows, it may encourage you to be more environmentally conscious about how you celebrate holidays in the future.

Contact Zoe Campion at 

LAST UPDATED

NOVEMBER 21, 2022