Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your turkey from a turkey farm that you can actually go and visit. How far did that shrinkwrapped Butterball travel, anyway? And the same goes for everything else on the Thanksgiving table. Sure, a locally-sourced Thanksgiving meal may mean choosing only seasonal items, but that’s how whoever really held the first Thanksgiving would have ate (whether they were in Massachusetts, Virginia, or Florida, as some claim).
Farming as it exists today can be a dirty business – even if you’re not terribly worried about eating pesticides, how about all the pesticides and weird chemical fertilizers that end up in the soil, then the ground water, then pretty much everywhere else as that water makes its way toward the ocean?
Okay, I know it’s not the most popular green Thanksgiving option – even The Beard and I can’t manage to make the jump to veganism. But if you create a vegan menu that does not include all the weird processed faux meats and pre-packaged products that often go hand-in-hand with veganism, you can create some amazing organic, locally-grown foods that comes with less of an environmental impact than meat and animal product farming (even the cruelty-free kind).
Opt for Dry Over Canned
Canning food takes more energy and more water (duh) than drying, so whenever you’re using something like rice or beans or lentils in your menu, look for dried alternatives in bags. With all the cooking already going on, how hard is it to soak your beans overnight? And in some recipes, no pre-soaking is required. Bonus: Dried X is almost always less expensive than canned X.
Think Whole Foods
I secretly think that cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a huge pain in the butt that’s usually not worth the trouble, but I understand that not everyone feels the same. So I can absolutely understand why many people are driven to use a lot of convenience foods – bottled gravy, cranberry sauce in a can, etc. – but whole foods are a whole lot greener. Cranberry sauce? So easy to make. Gravy, a little trickier, but not impossible, and so much tastier.
Cook Less and Use the Leftovers
Do you really need the biggest, baddest turkey out there? Some people do, but not everyone. Do you really need to make sure everyone at Thanksgiving can go back for thirds? That’s how Americans manage to pack away 4,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, it’s one day of excess, but most families end up working their way through leftovers until they can’t take the turkey any more. Don’t forget to compost those food scraps!
Use the Good Stuff
It’s Thanksgiving! So bust out the nice plates and the real napkins! Paper plates and napkins may be convenient, but they’re not all that Earth friendly and they don’t exactly contribute to a festive holiday atmosphere. And while we’re on the subject of grandma’s silver, skip the harsh, caustic polishes and try cheap white toothpaste instead.
Keep Clean-Up Green
If you’re not already using eco-friendly cleansers and soaps, now is a great time to start! How about a bar of organic goat’s milk soap in the bathroom and a spray bottle of Biokleen All-Purpose Cleaner for the countertops?