Every year millions of people celebrate Thanksgiving in their homes with their closest friends and family members. It is the time of year when we count our blessings and remember what we are grateful for, but we also tend to use it as an excuse to indulge in food and drink. Unfortunately, overindulging and celebration can lead to waste and unnecessary expense. With so much attention on the planet and the impending threat of climate change, it may be time to tone your plans down a bit. If it is your turn to host Thanksgiving this year and you would like to make the event as eco-friendly as possible, here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind.
Ask your guests to travel in an eco-friendly way
Where possible, you could ask your guests to arrive in a way that minimizes carbon emissions. For example, they could take public transport, carshare, or even walk or cycle if they live close enough. This might not be possible for elderly guests or those who live far away, but you could incentivize the rest by offering a special prize for the greenest mode of transport.
Cook a vegan menu
The meat industry contributes a high amount of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere and is responsible for a lot of the world’s deforestation. Most of us eat too much eat in our diet in general, but Thanksgiving causes consumption of meat to spike significantly. To reduce your celebration’s impact on the environment, consider cooking a vegan Thanksgiving menu or even just swapping a few meat-based dishes for vegan alternatives. You and your guests might be surprised by just how delicious vegan food can be.
Check your pantry and refrigerator before you shop
Before you make a list and head out to the store for your Thanksgiving shop, take plenty of time to check what you already have. When in the store, there will be lots of promotions and signs trying to persuade you that you need to buy certain items, and if you are not sure whether you already have some at home, you may end up buying more unnecessarily. Even if the food has technically passed its expiration date (which is really just a guideline), if it looks and smells fine, it probably is. We can also be fooled into thinking we should buy two or even three of something because it represents better value for money. To avoid waste and unnecessary expense, make a list of what you do and do not need, and stick to it.
Try not to cook too much
We tend to cook more food than we need to out of concern that guests will end up going hungry, and many Thanksgiving recipes provide for large groups. To avoid waste and lots of hard work, take time to calculate exactly how much food you should prepare. Think about your guests who tend to eat less and those who always ask for seconds and adapt your quantities accordingly.
Be responsible with leftovers
Have glass containers or compostable take-out containers ready to pack up your leftovers. You can then send them home with your guests or pop them in the fridge to be enjoyed another day. If you know that you will not make use of the leftovers, you may be able to donate them to a local food bank where they can be given to people in need.