Thanksgiving will undoubtedly look a little different this year. But as we make accommodations to our celebrations in the hopes of combatting the spread of COVID-19, we should also be sure to adjust our typical holiday habits to help combat another growing issue within our world that deserves just as much attention—climate change. As we prepare for more intimate holiday celebrations, here are some tips for a more sustainable Thanksgiving that will leave you with less throwaways and more room for eco-friendly fun.
Eat Local & Organic.
We often forget about the impacts on the environment when we purchase food from places that require extensive shipping techniques to actually get their products into the store. This Thanksgiving, consider shopping local to reduce these potential impacts. Not only will this help to eliminate unnecessary carbon emissions, the organic foods will likely also taste much better than anything store-bought. Look specifically for local items that are seasonal like apples, pumpkins, potatoes, or even locally made breads and cheeses.
Only Prepare What You Need.
This is easier said than done. But in a year where small Thanksgiving celebrations will be the norm, you should feel no pressure to over-prepare food in excess. Simply being intentional in only purchasing the ingredients and items you need for meals will help to save a lot of unnecessary food waste. And when looking for recipes, be sure to find ones that can be easily altered for smaller preparation sizes.
Compost Leftover Food.
Even if you are strategic in your food-planning process, you’re likely to still have some leftover food—which isn’t a problem, as long as you know what to do with it. Composting is an excellent alternative to help reduce Thanksgiving waste. The methane produced by throwaway food can be seriously harmful to the environment—even more than carbon dioxide. Composting is a process that not only helps to reduce these emissions, but it also can provide a number of benefits when you apply the composted materials to other areas of your home.
Avoid Using Paper Plates.
Paper plates—or really any disposable utensils or decorations—offer ease for Thanksgiving celebrations, but they also create just as much unnecessary waste and will fill up your trash bin twice as fast. Using durable, reusable plates and other decorative items not only helps to eliminate this waste, but to also create a much more memorable Thanksgiving celebration. Nice, reusable dish wear is worth the investment for the beautiful touch it will add to your table spread alone.
Leave the Air Conditioning/Heater Off.
For most of the country, many households rely on heat during the cooler, winter months to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. If this is you, consider turning down the heat this Thanksgiving—you’ll save energy and will probably be warm enough from all of the cooking in the kitchen that you won’t even notice it.
If you’re from Arizona or any other West Coast state that still hasn’t quite hit the temperatures necessary for the heat to turn on, don’t feel tempted to use the air conditioning to cool down your kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. The weather outside is beautiful enough to warrant opened doors and windows—so rely on the outside air to make your home more comfortable this holiday season.