Have an Eco-Fabulous Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving weekend just around the corner, families across Canada are shopping, cooking, cleaning, and getting ready to stuff themselves silly with turkey and mashed potatoes. As part of your family’s Thanksgiving celebration this fall, why not say thank-you to the Earth by having a green holiday that is as good for the environment as it is for your family. By following the suggestions in this article, you can ensure you are giving thanks to not only your friends and family, but planet Earth, too.

Be a “Localvore”
When shopping for your Thanksgiving feast ingredients, buy local! Buying local means shopping for food that is grown, raised, or produced as close to home as possible. Not only does this support your local business community, but it also has tremendously positive implications for the environment. By decreasing the distance your food travels, you are helping to reduce carbon emissions and therefore leave a smaller ecological footprint. Additionally, local food is usually fresher, and therefore probably contains fewer preservatives that would have been necessary for food travelling long distances. Check out your local farmer’s market or health food store, and impress your guests with tasty, fresh, and environmentally conscious regional specialties!

Decorate With the Gifts of Nature
Instead of rushing out in a consumer frenzy to buy Thanksgiving-themed decorations, consider using the gifts that nature provides! Get creative – leaves can be coasters, a hollowed out pumpkin can be a vase, and a dried corn arrangement can be an interesting centerpiece, to name a few. Thanksgiving is all about spending time with family, so consider working together to create your own decorations. Non-toxic, simple, biodegradable and beautiful – your guests will be thanking you for these natural decoration ideas.

Travel Smart
Over Thanksgiving weekend, millions of Canadians will get in their cars and travel far and wide to get together with family and friends for the holiday. While Thanksgiving is a great time to bring people together, all this travel can be downright detrimental to the environment. This year, consider alternative transportation to get to your destination, such as the train or bus. Just think – you wont have to worry about fighting traffic and at the same time you can have a better ecological conscience. If you must drive, carpool (Aunt Edna would love a ride!). Finally, consider offsetting your carbon emissions (See http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2009/climate_offset_guide_web.pdf). The money you pay for offsetting your travel goes directly to projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere, such as renewable energy or reforestation efforts.

Use the China!

If you are hosting Thanksgiving at your place, it can be tempting to use disposable utensils, cups, and napkins, to make clean-up easier. Resist the temptation and go for reusables. If you are washing by hand, fill up the sink with water (don’t keep running the tap), and if you are using the dishwasher, fully load it before running to ensure no water is unnecessarily wasted. If the sheer number of guests means you must use disposable items, consider the materials used. Most disposable utensils, for example, are made from petroleum based plastics which are hazardous, and often paper plates are made from paper containing nasty chemicals. Opt for tableware items made of recycled and nontoxic content.

Don’t Overindulge

While Thanksgiving is a time where we give thanks for the abundance of the harvest, we mustn’t get too carried away. When planning your Thanksgiving meal, try to cook the right amount of food for your guests. By reducing food waste, Mother Nature will be saying “thanks” to us. If you do have leftovers, give some away to your guests in reusable containers. Continue to eat the leftovers post-Thanksgiving (sometimes it tastes better!) and compost food scraps where possible. Less food thrown out equals less food in a landfill.

Remember, an eco-fabulous Thanksgiving can be fun, creative, and easy (especially on your conscience). Say thank-you to the environment by following the tips in this article, or by starting a new tradition with your family. Get creative: the possibilities are endless. While Thanksgiving is notoriously bad for ruining personal diets across Canada, it doesn’t have to be responsible for ruining the Earth’s carbon diet!