Tips for a Sustainable Thanksgiving

The holiday season is officially underway, and it can be easy to let celebrations get ahead of sustainability. We’re starting a series of sustainable seasonal tips by giving you some suggestions on how you can enjoy a more environmentally conscious Thanksgiving.

Purchase local and organic foods when possible.

When calculating your footprint, energy use isn’t the only thing to take into consideration. In terms of what you eat – everything it takes to get your food from the farm to your plate (even those processes you cannot see) is a part of your carbon footprint, or “foodprint,” if you will. There are significant benefits of using local and organic foods, and while a lot of these choices may seem cost-prohibitive, buying even one or two items locally and/or organically grown can make a difference – providing local jobs and stimulating the local economy.


U.S. landfills are filled with organic waste (aka kitchen food scraps). In fact, the EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 22% of discarded municipal solid waste. By instituting an at-home compost bin, you can add nutrients to home gardens and plants, and cut down on your home’s carbon footprint.

Cook mindfully

With a marathon of cooking taking place in the kitchen, it’s easy to leave the oven on all day long. Most people pre-heat the oven before preparation, which results in a lot of unnecessary use. Additionally, a lot of Thanksgiving staples such as potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, and onions should never be refrigerated. These items should be kept at room temperature, and thus can reduce energy use needed to cool them. Additionally, don’t overdo it in terms of quantity. Avoid unnecessary food waste by calculating the number of guests, but don’t assume everyone will eat huge portions. Remember – there are a LOT of options

Eat less meat

Sure, it’s hard to think of Thanksgiving without turkey, but the meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, which is a major contributor to climate change. Another major environmental impact of a meat-eating diet is the depletion of natural resources. Even if you’re not vegetarian, try adding a little less meat to your plate and filling the rest of the plate with healthy sides, such as squash, green beans or kale.

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