Making Thanksgiving a Green Holiday This Year
With the big turkey holiday just a week away, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to consider just how such a potentially gluttonous American holiday might be made more green. After all, any occasion that puts such weight on being thankful for what we have, can easily include being thankful for the air we breathe, the planet we inhabit, the resources we have to use and preserve.
How to Turn Thanksgiving Green
So how can it be done? Below are just a few ideas, some of which are specific to the Thanksgiving holiday, others which you can just make new habits and use the holiday for a new excuse to start being more green.
1) Consider your paper products, cutlery and napkins. Why not dispense with the paper products and make a real go at using cloth napkins, silverware that isn’t plastic, and china or ceramic plateware. Select an environmentally friendly dish washing detergent and do the same with your clothes washing soap when you throw the napkins into the washing machine. Or if you have to go with disposable things, consider recyclable bamboo plates instead.
2) Buy local groceries from farmer’s markets. Think about it: any way you slice it, you can’t go wrong. You’ll be eating seasonable vegetables (beets, parsnips with your roasted potatoes, onions, lettuce in your salads, etc), buying from and supporting local farmers, not contributing to carbon emissions that go into the deliver of your produce from far away farms to local grocery stores, and generally contributing to a sense of local community wherever you live. With the abundance of weekend and week-day farmer’s markets, especially if you live in a large city like Los Angeles, you should have multiple opportunities to get to the outdoor farmer’s market between now and Thanksgiving.
3) Get your hands dirty giving to others with less. Why not display your gratitude by getting out into your community and working with others who have less than you do. Being charitable has its own problems — too often and too easily, we just write a check and feel like we’re ok, and maybe it’s just not the most appropriate thing to put ourselves above others in that way. Instead, why not find a local foodbank, and really get out there with others, socialize, bring and serve food, make friends, share the holiday with others who might not otherwise pass through your life. Here is one such option in the LA area: Santa Monica Civic Center Annual Thanksgiving Event.
4) Buy an Organic Free-Range Turkey. Animals raised in free range environments are generally treated in a fashion that is more humane. If you want to stop eating meat, the politics of which may or may not coincide with a greener lifestyle, just watch a video or two of how meat and poultry is treated in the environments that are the norm, outside of free range farms. The turkey will inevitably be more expensive, but this is a great place to start this holiday. Get more information here: Free Range Turkeys.
5) Recycle and Re-use your Thanksgiving decorations. Seriously. If you get into the spirit by converting your house into a pilgrim-era masterwork, then make a box for your decorations and use them every year. Contributing to the spirit of being green can be as simple as not purchasing and throwing away, year after year, decorative turkeys, pilgrims, leaves and more.
6) Why not try to donate your turkey fat? When you cook your turkey, inevitably there will be fat that you can collect — either on the barbecue or in the oven. To collect it more easily, wait until day two after the fatty deposits have solidified in the bottom of the pan, when you will be able to scrape it into a separate container. Then, send it to a company like this one in Tucson, Arizona, who has figured out a way to convert the animal fat into organic bio fuel. You can always make a little game out of finding a similar business in your own community. More information on Turkey Fat Becoming Biofuel in Plano, TX.
7) Recycle your travel miles by purchasing carbon credits. When you travel, in case you haven’t heard about this, you can purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions you generate just by living on the planet. Especially if you jump on an airplane or travel long distances in the car when you go to meet family or friends on Thanksgiving. Carbon credits work by certifying that greenhouse gas has been removed from the air or that greenhouse gas emissions have been prevented. Every single carbon credit is associated with a single tonne of carbon dioxide. Find out more about purchasing carbon credits here.
#8) Consider using glassware and glass jars to store leftovers. Skip the plastic containers, disposable plastic cartons and plastic bags this year. Make a small but long-term investment in some glassware and glass jars to house your leftovers. That way, you leave the plastic out of your life. Many of these plastic products (used to store leftovers in the kitchen) are single-use petroleum products, and some even contain PVC, a chemical that can leach. If you can’t buy the glass products, consider using aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap because it is recyclable.