Thanksgiving is a day about harmony and love surrounded by that those that we love.
Many people will travel long distances to join family and friends for this joyous celebration. However, many tend to forget a valuable aspect of this day, and that is love and gratefulness to our planet.
Americans produce 25 million tons
of garbage between Thanksgiving and NewYear’s holiday. That’s a lot of waste that damages the health of our planet, our only home. Making a change is about putting into practice everyday eco-friendly habits in favor of our planet. Most activities in our lives can be changed to sustainable ones.
There are realistic lifestyle changes
that we can all adopt, the way in which we celebrate Thanksgiving is one more change with can be put into practice in a doable way.
In this Q&A we reached out to experts to give us their valuable insight on how to reduce waste and make this festive day more sustainable.
Keep reading and find out how to fully enjoy Thanksgiving while being kind to our planet as well.
Cleaning and Prepping
When getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner or cleaning afterwards, what are the top 3 eco-friendly cleaning utensils everyone should have?
Thanksgiving is one of our favourite holidays of the year, bringing families together for a feast with everyone playing their role in the kitchen…and there are some fantastic eco friendly tools and utensils to ‘green’ our kitchens this year!
Number 1: reusable baking liner. A fantastic way to eliminate the aluminium foil and paper parchment from your baking routines, by swapping to a silicone, non-stick baking matt thats washable and reusable again and again without the waste.
Number 2: organic bamboo spatula. Our favourite brand is Bambu. They are made sustainable, look fantastic in your kitchen, and made to last. Our favourite ones even come with a little ‘rest’ at the end to keep the messy part of your spatula off the work top.
Number 3: Wooden tongs. Whether were searing our veggies or frying our halloumi, our wooden kitchen tongs are a fantastic, plastic-free alternative towards a more sustainable way of cooking in the kitchen.
What sustainable materials should people focus on when looking for holiday decorations?
Over the last year sustainability has increased even more as something individuals and businesses need to strive towards, and now a huge factor in people’s buying habits. This Christmas you can expect to see a lot more eco-friendly and sustainable decorations on the shelves, that doesn’t go straight into landfill or can be used again and again each year. If you don’t invest in long-lasting material for decorations the best materials to look for and purchase are those you can fully recycle – such as glass, paper, and cards. We have invested in ensuring we offer a great selection of decorations made from these – from glass-colored candle holders to sturdy paper honeycombs and fully recyclable crackers for the table! There’s now no reason not to enjoy a fun-filled Christmas, entirely guilt-free.
Beth Pickard | Talking Tables
What are eco-friendly decorations for Thanksgiving?
The most eco-friendly decorations for Thanksgiving would be repurposed, reused, upcycled or recycled items or decorations made from nature.
Here are my favorite festive, natural, nontoxic and eco-friendly decorations for Thanksgiving:
1. Soy wax candles scented with fall essential oil scents in repurposed glass food jars — decorated with burlap or twine.
2. Decorate the doors with wreaths made from burlap, acorns or corn husks
3. Paint and carved pumpkins then fill them with tea lights for soft, festive lighting.
4. I’m Grateful Place Cards – Get everyone involved in making these gratitude place cards by writing what they are grateful for with eco-friendly ink pens. Decorate each place setting with them.
5. Pretty Pine Cones can be dipped into eco-friendly paint for festive decorations. You can place them on the mantel, on the dinner table or make a pretty pine cone garland.
6. Plant-based “Turkey” – Replace the turkey with a plant-based protein such as a vegan lentil walnut loaf or other plant-based turkey alternatives.
Deborah Smikle-Davis | Urban Naturale
Food & Drinks
What are some sustainable ways to wrap leftovers?
After years of trial and error and testing lots of different methods, I found that the most effective and sustainable way to store leftovers is the beeswax wrap. Usually made from cotton and beeswax (and some, like SuperBee’s, with a few additional ingredients like coconut oil and tree resin for extra cling), these wax wraps wrap around bowls of leftover food or, say, pumpkin halves, just like plastic cling wrap. What makes them sustainable, however, is that you can reuse wax wraps for up to two years. After you’ve finished the leftovers, simply rinse the wrap in lukewarm water and give it a gentle scrub, and after you’ve let it dry, you can use them over and over again. Another benefit of beeswax wraps is the beeswax’s natural antibacterial properties, which help you keep your food fresh for longer than traditional plastic wrap.
– Antoinette Jackson, founder of SuperBee | Superbee
Benefits of switching from a meat-based diet for Thanksgiving (Thanksvegan!)
1. Not participating in, or supporting, an industry that is based on animal cruelty.
2. Not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and supporting climate change (all industrial animal facilities cause air, land and water pollution, plus emit gases harmful to the atmosphere, causing global warming, and utilize fossil fuels for their production.
3. Healthier food choices – eliminate a lot of foods that cause heart disease and cancer
4. Feel good about your choices and the effects you are having on your body and the planet
5. Try something new – always exciting and keeps life interesting
6. Something new to share with your family and friends when you gather for the holiday. Conversation starters 🙂
– Tom Foerstel
Processed drinks can have a carbon footprint, what homemade drink or sustainable alternative would you recommend?
Processed drinks have a carbon footprint. When exploring more sustainable and homemade options, an alternative that I can suggest is Ginger Beer. It can be made at home with organic ginger, water, and sugar. It is tasty, hydrating, and has medicinal benefits. Steps to make Organic Ginger Beer can be found here.
Gifts and Shopping
What are some eco-friendly ways to wrap presents while making it festive and pretty?
In the U.S., we spend about $13 billion a year on single-use gift wrap. Thing is, it’s really easy to make your own. Try paper bags, newspaper, butcher paper, or packaging from something you order. It’s an easy way to upcycle existing material into truly unique presentations. Want to learn more about making the holidays more sustainable? Avocado has more tips here
When shopping, what should buyers look for and avoid, to make a sustainable purchase?
It can be hard to navigate the online shopping space when it comes to sustainable shopping. It’s important to take some time to investigate the retailer to see how they are sustainable, they should have an FAQ page or more details if they are marketing themselves as a sustainable option. It’s also really great to consider how they package and ship your order so you can consciously choose items that are not going to contribute to landfills, especially with single-use plastics.
What type of wrapping papers are recyclable and what should people look for to make their gift wrapping eco-friendly?
Pretty much all traditional wrapping paper is a nightmare for paper recycling factories. Though sometimes it technically can be recycled, quite often it is so thin and full of ink that the emissions and sludge produced to recycle it is
not worth the usable fibers that can be extracted. The good news is that there are still some wrapping papers that can be successfully recycled, and many materials that can be re-used (the best option for the planet!).
Kraft paper, 100% paper products (if it crumples into a ball and does not “bounce back” it’s likely pure paper), and lightly inked paper (or paper colored using organic products like vegetable dyes)—are all recyclable. In a pinch, we keep plain kraft bags on hand for last-minute gifts. If you have a few extra moments to wrap your gift in an old scarf, extra newspaper, or even a kitchen cloth–this is the most eco-friendly option!
We love the beauty of a wrapped gift, and sometimes plain kraft paper or a napkin doesn’t satisfy the way shiny bows and wrapping paper do. That’s why we created the reusable Tokki Bow-Card! If you’re like us and want to make your gift memorable, beautiful, and sustainable check out our latest launch here.
Here’s to a more eco-friendly holiday season.
What is your best advice for sustainable holiday gifting?
Sustainable gifts give on multiple levels. They are enjoyed by the recipient, support the makers, and are mindful of the earth. Through my designs, I share the stories of the places I have visited and make connections that bring the world closer together.
I design my jewelry using ethically sourced materials gathered in limited quantities to reduce waste and carry fair trade global imports in my Brooklyn store and online shop. From production to packaging, we are mindful of our impact on the planet. I always look to support small businesses locally whenever possible. And consider alternative gift-wrapping ideas! Last year I wrapped gifts using recycled sari fabrics instead of paper.
How to make your Thanksgiving celebrations greener?
Did you know that household waste between thanksgiving and New Year’s increases by more than 25%? Shocking isn’t it. We already waste a vast amount of food in a world where millions experience food insecurity including 49 M in the US. So plan your Thanksgiving to have less waste by buying only what you need, and select products with reduced or recyclable packaging. You can make a difference by taking these small steps.
– Carol Barbeito, Ph.D., President | Earth Protect
What are the three biggest pollutants when it comes to Thanksgiving celebration, and how can they be reduced?
Carbon footprint: If you’re traveling, consider taking a bus, train, or driving with others instead of flying to lighten your carbon footprint.
Leftover waste: To reduce waste with leftovers, I love eco-friendly beeswax reusable wrap and storage containers to house leftovers instead of plastic baggies and single-use containers.
Garbage: And while it might be easier to plan on using disposable products when hosting, the waste piles up quickly. Using cloth napkins, dish towels and ethically made dinnerware instead of disposable products is an easy way to reduce waste immensely.
Cayley Pater | Made Trade
How can parents involve kids in making Thanksgiving sustainable?
- Try healthier versions of Thanksgiving foods.
- Make your favorite holiday foods and deserts from scratch
- Thats a win win. You will not only have a family experience but your kids will learn to cook.
- Also, plan healthier alternatives such as nuts, fruits, juices.
- Think of the many ways you can create less waste.
- Use washable dishes, cloth napkins and other table items instead of paper plates, paper napkins and plastic utensils.
- Why not teach kids the proper way to set the table, too.
- Save paper and plastics. Instead of buying pre-packaged foods, make your own!
Greener Decor That’s More:
- Reuse, Reduce, Rethink.
- Craft Together and Create Heirlooms. Make recycled and repurpose decorations, this saves money and waste.
- Make Memories: Have fun creating Pumpkin and Turkey themed food items with fruits and vegetables that everyone can enjoy!
- Waste Not: Save Thanksgiving decorations from year to year.
During this festive season, it’s important to expand harmony beyond the people that we love, and have sustainable considerations
for our lovely planet.
A more sustainable diet also means healthier eating
, since we’re talking about increasing fruits, veggies, and nuts, whilst reducing animal products. Nonetheless, one should still watch out for excessive carbs intake.
With these helpful tips, you’ll be able to fully enjoy this holiday season in a harmonious and sustainable