Step 1: Make A Plan
If your family is hosting Thanksgiving this year, one of the first steps you can take to ensure that your gathering is eco-friendly is to plan, plan, plan when it comes to the recipes you will be cooking. For instance, if you are making a dish that requires only half of an onion, try to find a separate dish that only requires half of an onion so that you can cut down on the amount of food you might waste. You should also have a reliable idea of how many guests are coming to your Thanksgiving celebration so that you do not buy too many ingredients and end up throwing away uneaten food.
Step 2: Let The Sides Be The Star Of Your Thanksgiving Feast Instead Of Meat
While turkey and other meat dishes are often the highlight of many Thanksgiving meals and most families do not consider it Thanksgiving without a turkey on their table, you can still enjoy your meal without making turkey and other meats the star of the show. As an added benefit, using less meat in your Thanksgiving meal means you are promoting sustainable eating while having a neutral impact on the environment.
While consuming meat in moderation can be a part of a healthy diet, meat consumption and its production does have a negative impact not the environment as well as adverse social implications. The farming of livestock has a large environmental footprint and largely contributes to the degeneration of land and water sources, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degradation and deforestation. However, the impact of meat consumption is most apparent in the realm of climate change. Eighteen percent of greenhouse gasses produced by humans worldwide is due to the the farming of livestock. This number is greater than all emissions produced by airplanes, shops, trucks and other forms of transportation combined. The risks of climate change have been at the forefront of global conversation recently, but it is worth mentioning that climate change does pose a risk to human health by way of hazardous weather disasters including floods, droughts and heatwaves.
Secondly, mass meat consumption, as generally takes place on holidays like Thanksgiving, means that more meat is produced which can require large amounts of grain, water and land. Fortunately however, this mostly applies to red meat, a category which turkey does not belong. If you do consider incorporating red meat into your Thanksgiving feast, do so minimally. To put the issue of red meat consumption into prospective, it takes approximately twenty-five kilograms of grain to feed one animal and about 15,000 liters of water to sustain their lives. Additionally, thirty percent of the land’s surface is currently being used for livestock farming. Because food, water and land are not abundant throughout many areas of the world, the use of these resources for livestock farming can be considered inefficient.
Lastly, as the demand for grain to feed livestock increases, the price of this grain goes up. This can burden those who live in poverty and rely on grain to feed themselves and their families. If instead of using grain to feed livestock, we used grain to feed human beings, an additional 3.5 billion people across the world would be fed.
Instead of purchasing meat to include into your Thanksgiving feast, experiment with different and interesting side dishes that contain more vegetables and other non-meat ingredients.
Step 3: Shop For Organic Ingredients At The Local Farmers Market
Buying fresh local produce is not only beneficial in that it often tastes better, but these products are also better for the environment in a multitude of ways. By purchasing food for your Thanksgiving dinner from your local farmers market, you are reducing your contribution to the harmful emissions produced by shipping trucks that will often travel over 1500 miles to transport food to grocery stores. Because local good are grown or produced in your community, they require less miles to be driven to the farmers markets, thus producing less harmful emissions and cutting down on fuel consumption and air pollution. The carbon footprint created by local food is much less than the carbon footprint of food sold in grocery stores and with local food, there is no need for shipping facilities, packing facilities or energy used for refrigeration. Additionally, farmer’s markets are usually much more accessible to consumers than large grocery stores. This allows shoppers to take more environmentally friendly modes of transportation to shop for their food, including riding their bikes or walking. When shopping for your Thanksgiving food at a large grocery store, it is more likely that you will have to drive your car, increasing your fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
As mentioned, food purchased from a farmers market is often more fresh and nutritious. Local farmers will use less pesticides and hormones in their products, benefitting the consumer and also the earth’s environment. This helps to keep harmful pesticides and toxins out of the air which will improve crops and air quality. Local farmers also produce less food which means there will be less food waste than larger food manufactures. Another benefit of shopping for your Thanksgiving ingredients at a local farmers market is that it protects the land and wildlife in your area.
In order to satisfy your thanksgiving guests with farm fresh dishes and to simultaneously benefit the environment, choose to shop at a farmers market where possible for your Thanksgiving needs this year.
Step 4: Use Reusable Tableware, Cutlery and Napkins During Your Thanksgiving Meal
Investing in a nice set of reusable tableware, cutlery and napkins for special occasions will not only make your Thanksgiving celebration look more beautiful, but it will help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in earth’s landfills. Reusable tableware has a much less of a negative impact on the environment than its single use counterparts, no matter if the reusable items are made of plastic, stainless steel or ceramic.
In terms of environmental damage, plastic cutlery can have some of the highest negative impacts. Over half of the plastic cutlery that is thrown away by fast food restaurants, and sometimes even the plastic cutlery thrown away after your Thanksgiving meal, is disposed of without being recycled and without being reused for other purposes. This unfortunately leads to the plastic cutlery ending up in the world’s water sources such as oceans, rivers and seas. These plastic forks and spoons contaminate these waterways, sometimes leading to polluted water that is used for domestic purposes, industrial activities and drinking water. In addition to harming the earth’s water sources, the manufacturing of plastic cutlery and tableware leaves a large carbon footprint that is detrimental to earth’s environment. Through the process of producing these plastic products, a substantial amount of energy and carbon are released into the atmosphere. This carbon mixes with other greenhouse gasses in the air, including methane, which is what causes detrimental climate changes in earth’s atmosphere.
Another negative impact that plastic cutlery can have on the earth’s environment is its threat the marine life. When plastic is present in the ocean, it generally will float to the top, creating a sort of seal on the surface of the water. This seal makes it harder for air to permeate the water, which many marine species rely on to live. Additionally, these smaller plastic items, such as plastic forks and spoons, can be mistakenly eaten by marine life which causes choking and sometimes even death for the animal. Plastic cutlery and tableware is also a major culprit of the garbage that congests earth’s landfills.
This Thanksgiving, choose to use reusable tableware, cutlery and napkins, as these easy to use items will make a big difference in the health earth’s atmosphere, earth’s water sources and the animals who live in them.
Step 5: Try To Travel Less Or In More Sustainable Ways Where Possible
Traveling to visit loved ones during the Thanksgiving holiday is a common practice for many families. However, depending on which mode of transportation you choose to get to your final destination, this travel can have a negative impact on the environment. If you do have to make a trip to celebrate the holiday with your family, make sure that you take public transportation or carpool when possible. If you live close enough to your relatives who are hosting Thanksgiving this year, walking to their home is the most eco-friendly mode of transportation you can choose!
Every year, approximately 39,000,000 families will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. On average, those who are traveling by car will drive 588 miles. These miles produce 10.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide that is then released into the air and harms the environment. Those who travel by airplane to their Thanksgiving celebrations will fly about 500 miles on average, producing 800 million pounds of carbon dioxide. Although it is important to spend this special time of year with our loved ones, it can have detrimental effects on the planet. One solution could be that instead of visiting your out of town relatives every year for Thanksgiving, you visit them every other year. Or, if your family usually travels for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, just choose one holiday during which you travel. Additionally, if your info Thanksgiving destination is within reasonable driving distance, consider taking a road trip instead of flying, as driving is a more sustainable way of getting around than flying. If it is required that you fly during the Thanksgiving holiday season, try to find direct flights instead of flights that require a layover. Because airplanes use a great deal of their fuel during takeoff, you can help to save fuel by flying in an airplane that only has to make one departure.
Step 6: Avoid Creating Food Waste
Thanksgiving can often be a time where we let loose and indulge ourselves in any amount of food that we desire. However, this can sometimes lead to our eyes being a bit bigger than our stomachs and plates that are full with more food than our bodies can comfortably consume. This can often lead to food waste, as we do not finish each item on our plates. Try to only line your plate with as much food as you realistically believe you will be able to eat and enjoy this Thanksgiving.
To possibly inspire you to fill your Thanksgiving plate to realistic heights, the United States Department of Agriculture approximates that thirty to forty percent of our overall food supply is wasted. This equates to roughly 133 billion pounds of wasted food each year. Food waste is the biggest contributor to the waste that sits in our landfills. As this food decays, it produces methane gas which is one of the largest factors that is negatively impacting our earth’s climate. By reducing the amount of food waste your produce this Thanksgiving holiday, you are doing your part in helping to combat food waste and the ways that it is contributing to climate change.
Step 7: Participate In Green Friday
Although Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest shopping day of the year and offers some pretty great deals for consumers, it is also a huge contributor to waste and is a drain on the earth’s finite resources. One study found that in the year 2015, 133,700,000 in store and online shoppers spent over 71 billion dollars in just one day on Black Friday. This level of consumerism and all of the products purchased have an extremely negative impact on the environment, as each product that is purchased will eventually be disposed of and add to the ever-growing waste in earth’s landfills. In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, humans will produce twenty-five percent more waste than the average daily rate. This results in an extra one million tons of waste piled into landfills every week. To avoid contributing to this problem, you can participate in Green Friday, where instead of purchasing from large chain retailers, you can shop local and avoid purchasing anything wrapped in plastic, make a gift for your loved ones instead of purchasing one or even gifting your family and friends a donation to a cause they care about, such as to the non-profit organization World Wildlife Fund or the Rainforest Alliance.
While all of us at Natran Green Pest Control hope that you and your family have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday filled with fun and delicious food, we also hope that you choose to celebrate this holiday with the well-bring of the earth in mind. Happy Thanksgiving!