5 Simple Ways To Have A More Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

by Stefanie Kushner

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As we head into November, many of us are thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. It is my favorite dinner of the year!

I let all my dieting tricks go out the window for the one night, so I can enjoy turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings.

But even though I may overeat, I try to make my dinner as eco-friendly as possible.  

1. Turkey

Be sure to get a humanely and/or sustainably raised turkey (or go meatless and get a Tofurky which saves 20 lbs of CO2 emissions per pound vs. a real bird). Here are some turkey tips from the November issue of Whole Living:

Breeding - Check to see if your turkey is marketed as 'heritage". These birds mate naturally and have a relatively long life span. They also grow more slowly allowing them to develop strong skeletal structures, healthy organs, and the strength to survive outdoors.

Captivity - A turkey labeled "free-range" needs to have continuous outdoor access for at least 51% of its life. Industrial turkeys are housed by the thousands confined to windowless barns.

Feeding - Organic turkeys consume only organic feed and have not been given antibiotics, arsenic compounds, or animal by-products. Don't be fooled by the "hormone-free" label since the FDA bans the use of hormones in ALL poultry.

Cruelty - Look for "American Humane Certified" or "Animal Welfare Approved" labels. Conventional turkeys have their nails and upper beaks removed early in life.

 Luckily stores like Whole Foods do the research for you and only offer turkeys that have passed the Global Animal Partnership welfare rating system.

2. Vegetables

Organic vegetables are great, and local, organic vegetables are even better. My CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) is continuing with our shares through the beginning of November.

A lot of fall vegetables stay fresh for a couple of weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. Squash, potatoes and beets make great sides, and hopefully, can be found locally. 

Find out where there's a farmer's market near you and take advantage of it!  

3. Tableware

Although you may be tempted to use paper - DON'T. That's a lot of waste. Part of my childhood memories of Thanksgiving are from all of us in the kitchen talking, munching, and cleaning the dishes. Make it a family affair. Don't be fooled into thinking that washing is better than the dishwasher. With a high efficiency dishwasher, piling in the plates uses less water than washing the dishes by hand.

Check out some ways to run your dishwasher more efficiently. Don't use paper napkins either. Cloth napkins are inexpensive, and look nicer on the table than paper. Get them in different seasonal colors to brighten up your table.

4. Drinks

Alcohol, soda, water, and more are all consumed on Thanksgiving. Here are some tips to serve keep drinks as eco-friendly as possible:

Don't use paper or plastic cups. Use a dry erase marker on your glassware so people can keep track of which glass is theirs. That will decrease the number of tumblers and wine glasses that are used.

Put water in pitchers. No need for individual bottles of water. Use pitchers for water that you can filter through your refrigerator or through a Brita or other brand of water filter.

Serve Wine in a Box. Boxed wine is more eco-friendly than bottled wine. The boxes are lighter so they are less weight in shipping. This eco-friendly libation is becoming trendy and more and more great boxed wines are available.  

5.Dessert

You can't have Thanksgiving dinner without dessert. If you aren't much of a baker, go for an organic pie crust. Apple pie is easy to make and now is the time to stock up on your apples. Nothing is better to walk into than the smell of fresh baked apple pie. Pumpkin pie is my favorite. Have you tried making yours from a real pumpkin? Ditch the can this year and buy a baking pumpkin (the pumpkin you carve will not cut it) and see how good a pumpkin pie can really taste.

 Who's hungry?? I am. Enjoy!

Stefanie

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