A community in Tanzania shares a meal together.

Grateful and sustainable: keys to a sustainable holiday

Many people associate Thanksgiving with consuming large amounts of meat, the heaviest travel days of the year, and spending most of the day recovering from overeating by watching sports or TV shows.

Nothing about that is very sustainable, yet gratitude and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Being a wise steward of our planet’s resources stems naturally from being thankful for them and being appreciative of the resources we’ve been given.

So what can we do in order to turn Thanksgiving into a more sustainable celebration? Here are a few simple tips:

1) Take the 100 mile dinner challenge

Two of the biggest challenges to sustainability that Thanksgiving presents come in the form of excessive food and exhaustive travel. Here’s another big one: the amount of traveling your food does.

Family is important, and traveling to see distant relatives may not be the item you wish to cut out of your Thanksgiving plan. That’s fine, but you can cut out the amount of traveling the turkey and potatoes need to do.

The 100 mile challenge is a challenge to build your Thanksgiving dinner exclusively out of ingredients sourced from a 100 mile radius of where you are celebrating. Going to local farmers markets can definitely help with finding ingredients, and many family farms prepare great deals in anticipation of the holiday.

No dumping trash.
No dumping trash.

2) Watch out for waste!

Another major threat to the environment that Thanksgiving presents is the large amount of food waste it produces. This can be easily avoided if you have a good gameplan for using your leftovers and scraps!

Check out our recent blog post for how to reuse your veggie scraps. Those can become anything from dried seasonings to be used in later dishes to vegetable stock for soup. And feel free to get creative with figuring out how to use other leftovers. Chopped is an entertaining show, and figuring out how to repurpose ingredients can be just as fun in everyday life.

3) Quality over quantity

I know, I know. Thanksgiving and quantity are almost synonymous, right? But shifting sustainability has got to require some things to change.

Changes don’t need to be threatening. Choosing to prepare dishes that are an appropriate size for your gathering that are based on quality rather than quantity is an upgrade. Opting for ecologically grown veggies rather than frozen imports sold en masse makes for a better meal and a more conscious holiday. Locally farmed poultry costs the environment less, while offering the taste buds more.

A thanksgiving hike? Why not?
A thanksgiving hike? Why not?

4) Opt outside early

When REI announced that they would skip Black Friday and instead encourage customers to #OptOutside, many responded with enthusiasm. Guess what? Thanksgiving is also a great day to head outdoors.

We’re not exactly suggesting you go backpacking through the wilderness in lieu of your usual dining room gathering (though if that’s what you choose, that’s great!) The day of Thanksgiving, however, can be an excellent time to pay a short visit to a local park, to take an extended morning walk, or to invite some cousins to work up an appetite by playing some ball before dinner.

However you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, we hope you enjoy it, and we hope some of these tips might be helpful for you. As a thank you, here’s a link to a recent video of ours titled I Am Hope. As a team, we are so, so grateful for you.

Philippe Lazaro

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