ByKaty Farber

Nov 13, 2014

Thanksgiving is coming up quickly! It’s hard to believe we are well into November already. Sometimes, it can feel challenging to hold on to environmental values during the rush-rush of the holiday season.

Here are a few ways you can plan an eco-friendly (and healthy) Thanksgiving for you and your family.

Thanksgiving cranberries
Image courtesy of smilla4

1. Go Canned Food Free this Thanksgiving (and holiday season).

Most canned food, while convenient, has the hormone altering chemical BPA in the lining. This leaches into food and has been linked to numerous health problems including obesity, cancer, and reproductive system problems. Even in BPA free cans, we can’t be sure about the safety of the BPA replacement. Our regulatory system for chemicals in this country is broken, and so replacements are often untested and could be just as harmful. To be safe for the humans at your table, and the environment, pledge to make your special meal from whole food instead.

2. Buy organic, especially from the Dirty Dozen.

Those delicious spuds? They have some of the highest pesticide load according to the Environmental Working Group. Make sure that the many vegetable side (or main) dishes are organic– especially those listed as having the most pesticides. Your purchase will support organic farmers.

3. Speaking of produce, buy local!

If possible, source your food from local farms. Many co-ops, farm stands, and grocery stores feature local foods. Your hard earned dollars can support your local community, not a factory farm. By doing this you will lessen the fuel used to transport food and reduce your carbon footprint.

4. Buy an organic, locally raised, antibiotic free turkey.

The frozen ‘special-of-the-week’ down at your local super market may be cheaper, but is that the full picture?  You know, the inhumane practices, the pollution (harming water and air quality, and contributing to climate change), the overuse of antibiotics (the medicine we need for actual sick people), on factory farms and the many additives in conventional birds? Those! In addition, consider the genetically modified organisms conventional turkeys are fed, and these are an unsustainable choice. Find out more information and where you can find a healthier turkey. 

5.  Consider  your vegetarian guests (or having a–gasp!—vegetarian Thanksgiving).

Some people equate Thanksgiving with turkey. Me? It’s all about the mashed potatoes. A heaping mound of tasty spuds with a small pond of butter is perfect. But it can also be about delicious vegetarian main dishes sure to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Eating vegetarian also cuts your environmental footprint– by lessening your water, carbon, and land use.

Want some vegetarian main dish ideas? We have you covered.

6. Create a mindful and eco-friendly center piece for Thanksgiving.

It is easy to rush through getting ready for Thanksgiving–traveling, cooking, and cleaning. Take time to remember what you are grateful for. This activity and centerpiece can be created easily with children and can be featured at the Thanksgiving table.

What are you tips for having an eco-friendly Thanksgiving? Share them here and inspire others with your brilliance.

Feature image courtesy of Other Think 

By Katy Farber

Katy Farber is a teacher, author, blogger from Vermont. She’s currently a teacher in Central Vermont and writes about education, parenting, the environment and sustainability for various websites and publications. Farber is the author of several books including 'Eat Non-Toxic: A Manual For Busy Parents'.