Thanksgiving is right around the corner, promising rooms packed with family and friends and tables groaning under the weight of delectable dishes. But on a day when 51 million turkeys are consumed and a cumulative $2.4 billion spent on the meal, it’s hardly surprising that our favorite foodie holiday can be far from sustainable.
Luckily, you can enjoy your favorite traditional treats without making a negative impact on the planet. Learn more below:
1. Buy locally
When possible, try to buy all of your Thanksgiving fixings from local vendors. Turkeys are raised all over the country (although this strangely captivating map shows you where the hot spots are), so try to buy your bird from within your state – if not county – lines. Head to your local farmer’s markets to buy great produce and vegetables for all of your sides and desserts.
2. Get an Ethically Raised Bird
Animal cruelty is common practice in the poultry industry; just last year, popular brand Butterball was caught on film abusing their turkeys. Keep in mind that Butterball provides a whopping 30% of the birds eaten on Thanksgiving. There are plenty of farms that stand by ethical practices, so stop the cycle of animal abuse and support businesses that give turkey’s the treatment they deserve.
3. Go Smaller… Or Go Meatless
Studies estimate that the greenhouse gas emissions required to product the turkeys we won’t eat is enough to fuel 800,000 car rides from NYC to San Francisco. Consider buying a smaller turkey to ensure that you don’t end up with any meat waste.
If you feel compelled, you could opt to remove yourself from the cycle altogether and host a meatless Thanksgiving. Here are some inspiring vegetarian recipes that are as delicious as they are sustainable.
4. Embrace Leftovers
Americans collectively waste $165 billion in food each year, and the USDA estimates that 200 million pounds of edible turkey meat will be tossed on Thanksgiving alone. Tempting as it might be to pile your plate a mile high with different dishes, only take what you know you can eat, and save the rest for leftovers. Too many leftovers for you to eat on your own? Send every guest home with an edible care package.
5. Steer Clear of Disposables
If dozens of guests are heading to your house for Thanksgiving, it might be tempting to whip out the paper plates and plastic utensils and cups. Resist the temptation! Stick with reusable options and help divert waste from landfills.
Armed with these tips, you can celebrate a Thanksgiving that is delicious and sustainable. Dig in!