There is no better holiday to enjoy in an eco conscious manner than Thanksgiving. In the spirit of gratitude and community, planning a greener Thanksgiving highlights how we treasure the natural beauty of the earth and do our part in preserving it for future generations. By making the effort to keep this holiday green, you don't just do your part, you share the mindset with your family and friends.
1. Grocery shop responsibly
Preparing your green Thanksgiving starts long before the day itself. When preparing your menu and slowly stocking the products you need for the Thanksgiving feast, keep the "green" switch on in your mind. Instead of buying canned cranberry sauce or choosing boxed stuffing, fill your menu and grocery list with local, seasonal, and organic food. Check out Ontario Farm Fresh for a list of what is in season at this time in Ontario and then hit the local farmers' markets for a fresh selection. Order your free range, organic bird early from a local producer and enjoy the difference in flavour and quality. If you know that some of your guests are vegetarian or pescatarians, prepare a few other options for them, like steamed trout, tofurkey, or a bean and squash casserole.
2. Decorate with no waste
Autumn is such a beautiful and colorful season, and therefore the perfect inspiration for your Thanksgiving dinner décor. However, instead of wasting paper for cut outs of pumpkins or buying plastic banners, use nature to decorate and set the mood. Hurricane bowls full of chestnuts or acorns give a polished look, while bouquets of sunflowers or colorful leaves bring some rustic allure to the table setting. Instead of printing individual menus for your guests, write the food options on a big chalkboard sign so that everyone can see it. Save on electricity by illuminating your meal with natural soy candles instead of having the lights switched on. Not only will it look that much more beautiful, you will conserve some energy and set an example for everyone present.
3. Forget disposables
The temptation to bring out the disposable plates and cups is huge for big events like Thanksgiving, especially if you are expecting a crowd. However, this generates a lot of unnecessary waste which takes a long time to decompose at a dump. So if you do find yourself short on some plates or cutlery, borrow some from a friend or family member so that you don't have to resort to plastic or Styrofoam alternatives.
4. Keep your drinks green
Most beverages unfortunately come in containers- meaning that if you wanted to be waste free this Thanksgiving, you're in for a challenge. However, there are some creative ways around this problem. Some homemade iced tea or freshly pressed cider are beautiful and healthy beverages that everyone can enjoy and don't forget to serve your tap water in a pitcher with a little bit of lemon for flavour.
5. Store Smart
One thing to be thankful for, is that virtually every Thanksgiving dinner in Canada results in significant left overs. These can be eaten the next day or frozen for a different time. However, instead of reaching for plastic boxes, cling wrap or a whole roll of aluminum foil, dig in your cupboards for your collection of food storage containers. If you want to give some to your guests as they leave, either label your containers and kindly ask for them to be returned next time you meet, or ask them in advance to bring their own.
6. Compost Waste
Cooking a big meal like Thanksgiving dinner generates a lot of food waste- carrot tops, potato peels, apple cores, and more. Instead of throwing it all into your garbage bin, compost it. Those of us without the luxury of a yard and compost bin can instead place this waste into our green bins for pick up.
7. Donate to a Food Bank
While you're enjoying your meal in the company of family and friends, don't forget that there are individuals and families that are not fortunate enough to be able to prepare as elaborate a meal to celebrate this holiday with. While you are picking up the supplies for your feast, add a couple of items that you can donate to the local Food Bank this Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We hope that it will be your best and greenest one yet!