Simple Tips for a Green Thanksgiving

As "Turkey Day" fast approaches, Rose from the Alternative Consumer offers up a list of easy tips for greening your fall feast.

In my family, Thanksgiving was always the most stressful of holidays. Would there be enough food? Would so-and-so come? Would the house be clean enough? Rarely among those concerns was, how sustainable is this holiday? Well, times they are a changing and this Thanksgiving we’ll have a local turkey, relatives arriving via carpools and organic wine. You can join the green Thanksgiving festivities with these easy tips.

The Food

You don’t have to skimp on the stuffing to make this Thanksgiving more sustainable than last. Most families will not be convinced to give up the turkey this Thanksgiving. If you can go vegetarian or turkey free, more power to you; if not here are some alternatives:

  •  Make a shopping list before you go out. Trying to think on the fly will cause unnecessary purchases. Making the list well in advance will allow you to look for the best local options, rather than making frantic last minute decisions. Try to minimize car mileage by planning your route precisely.
  • Buy local and/or organic. Thanksgiving is all about using your local resources to make delicious food. Get your turkey from you local farmer’s market or local producers.

It’s not just about the turkey!

  • Drink green. Only buy wines with real cork stoppers, rather than plastic. Trees are not cut down for cork, and it is a crucial part of the forestry industry. Look for organic wines and liquors, and freshen tap water with a filter and some lemons.
  • Avoid plastic wrap. Most plastic wraps contain PVC which quickly winds up in landfills and has been linked to harmful environmental consequences. Use aluminum foil or, even better, send family home with glass or ceramic storage containers that they can return to you after. (The really conscientious may bring their own reusable leftover container, just in case)
  • Keep your hands dry! A recent study found that your dishwasher uses less soap, half the energy and 1/6 of the water you might during hand washing. Air dry the dishes rather than heat drying them.
  •  Use non-toxic cleaners to get that mom-level-clean.


The Family

Thanksgiving is about getting connected with family. For some, it’s the one time in the year where everyone is in the same room. Go green together!

  • Pick a location that’s easy for everyone to get to. The less air travel the better!
  • Carpool. Pick each other up on the way.
  • Try to avoid sitting around the television on Thanksgiving Day. Many towns have live parades. If you have diehard football fans in the mix, make sure they’re all watching the same television. Take the football out of the closet and see if anyone’s apt to want to throw the ball around.

The Decorations

Home made decorations can be both fun and eco-friendly.

  • Thanksgiving is an earthy time. Use your creativity with sticks, stones, leaves, flowers and branches from your backyard or neighborhood.
  •  If you can’t get sticks or don’t want to get crafty, look for organic floral arrangements at your local farmers market.

Get more green Thanksgiving tips here: