Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and share special moments with family and friends. While the original Thanksgiving might have taken place during a time when food was sparse, today it often involves excessive amounts of food, with more food ending up in the garbage than in guests’ bellies. The United States Department of Agriculture projects that Americans will throw away more than 200 million pounds of edible turkey meat this Thanksgiving holiday, which typically ushers in a period of wastefulness. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says American households produce roughly 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than during the rest of the year.
Reducing waste is a worthy goal year round, but especially during the holiday season. Use fine china and silverware when serving meals instead of disposable plates and utensils. Besides adding a touch of elegance to meals, china and silverware is less wasteful than disposable items. Cloth napkins and other table linens are also more eco-friendly than paper napkins. Decorate using natural items, which can be turned into wreaths and garlands. Vases filled with pine cones and acorns make for beautiful, inexpensive, and festive decorations. Shop locally and organically for poultry and grains whenever possible. Resist the urge to buy more than you need. Skip some of the less-popular dishes that are used only to make the table seem full. Buy a small turkey or think about only serving turkey breasts, which tend to be the most popular cuts of the bird. Use reusable shopping bags to carry items home and reduce waste even further.
Eat by candlelight to reduce energy consumption and turn off lights in other areas of the home that are not in use. Start a new tradition and invite nearby friends and family over for Thanksgiving instead of traveling long distances. According to Use Less Stuff , a resource for eco-conscious men and women, if each family reduced gasoline consumption by one gallon (about 20 miles), they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tons. Send each guest home with some leftovers. Then the refrigerator isn’t left full of items that will end up uneaten. Don’t let recycling fall by the wayside. Remember to recycle all applicable items. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean recycling habits should be forgotten. Encourage guests to pitch in by clearly marking recycling bins.
Thanksgiving can be less wasteful without detracting from the enjoyment and true meaning of the holiday—being grateful!
From our Family to Yours, Happy Thanksgiving from The Women’s Journal!