A huge, extravagant feast and Sunday night football? Driving to the store four times because you got the wrong turkey? How does that equal a green holiday? Actually, according to our unofficial research, Thanksgiving and other large gatherings have maximized potential to be green. For a nuclear family or roommate dinner the changes you make may look little; but when it comes to an all day smorgasbord the savings start to really show. Here are our top 9 suggestions (let us know how you’ll be practicing the three R’s this Thanksgiving or any holiday in the comments!).
HAVE A GREEN HOLIDAY BY…PROTECTING WILDLIFE
Snip Your Soda! My friend Stephanie was diligently snipping the plastic holders that keep soda six packs corralled together when it hit me like a ton of bricks: she was saving marine life from getting their heads stuck in the plastic should our waste somehow end up in the lake. I felt like a fool for not doing this simple step sooner, seeing as I write about green design all day. Don’t make my mistake! The tiniest change in our behavior can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of our fellow humans and animals. If you’ve got soda drinkers this Thanksgiving, make sure to clip before you let them slip (into the trash)
Choose your Dishwasher Soap Wisely: Nothing says “thanksgiving” like a mountain of dishes, right? There are three main types of dishwashing detergents on offer: powdered detergent, gel and individual tabs/pods. While the tabs are cute (oh so cute) sometimes they arrive in a plastic bag and then are individually wrapped in more plastic. Good grief! Liquids and gels are not much better, usually arriving in petroleum-based bottles and having higher amounts of surfactants than powders, which strip oils off of things (great for plates, not so great for a fish’s natural mucus layer, which protects it from infection and parasites). More than a few sources have recommended your standard powder arriving in a cardboard box. Skip the fragrance, save some dimes, and some frogs while you’re at it.
HAVE A GREEN HOLIDAY BY…DOING STUFF YOU WON’T EVEN NOTICE
Turn Down the Heat As much as I’ve enjoyed the Thanksgivings where it’s balmy enough to prep on the porch, there’s something satisfying (justifying?…validating?) about tearing into plates and pies when it’s actually hibernation weather. This year, turn down the thermostat a couple degrees as you and your cohort work in the kitchen. You guys know it’s the place to be! It’s where all the smells and all the food are, and if your guests are helping you out (and if they aren’t, what the heck are they doing?) they’ll be there too. And with all four burners and the oven going, plus all that boozy holiday nog, you’ll barely notice a couple degrees. Also make sure to draw the curtains after the sun goes down to better insulate.
Consider Another Protein: Look, it doesn’t matter if I’m eating turkey or brisket or portabello mushrooms as long as I’m eating good food with the people I love and annoy. Some of you may genuinely miss the turkey if it’s not there, but I’m betting some of you really won’t if you swap out, a turkey with, say, a thanksgiving lamb or venison. Without getting into meat vs no meat through a carbon footprint lens (and there are compelling arguments for both sides), one thing that’s unavoidable is that people aren’t buying a lot of whole turkeys most of the year, and then all of the sudden they are buying 46 million of them, and that just doesn’t sound very sustainable. When it comes to agriculture and animal consumption, sustainability via biodiversity as a general rule comes to mind. Let’s lessen the load on rearing millions of turkeys in a short time frame, and enjoy some tasty alternatives.
Print Out the Recycling Rules for 2016: Here they are. Now print! Boom. Hang this guy up on the fridge, or tape him over the recycling can and never wonder if this or that can be recycled again. The path of least resistance is the path to a super green holiday. Everything that workers have to remove from the recycling and then dispose of is time and energy that can be saved if we followed the rules of recycling.
Commit to Reducing Packaging: You could take this one as seriously or as lightly as you want, but just consider it every time you make a food purchase. Can you avoid something that is individually wrapped? Can you get one bulk item instead of three packages? Can you refill your spice cabinet from the bulk section instead of getting a whole new jar (p.s. you will save some serious $$)? Are you missing giant serving vessels? Maybe a friend or relative can loan theirs for the day? And don’t forget the reusable bags.
HAVE A GREEN HOLIDAY BY…STARTING NEW TRADITIONS YOU MIGHT LOVE
Send a Carpooling E-mail: Are you driving somewhere for Thanksgiving? Maybe your coworker, friend or Volleyball captain is, too. Maybe that shy colleague who has a really awesome pen collection is also packing up the car for a long weekend in Northern MI in a town just one mile from yours! Send out an e-mail to your office or community and see who’s going where. It’ll take just a couple minutes, and could save on carbon emissions and gas money (for you). There’s nothing like a long car trip to deepen a relationship, or start getting to know someone new.
Try a Powered Down Hour or Two: To me, Thanksgiving equals two things: establishing a kitchen monarchy and curling up to watch awful rom coms with my siblings. But we usually find some time for classic board games like scattergories, scrabble and charades. Maybe this is your tradition, too, or maybe it’s a good method to cool down a conversation about politics. Whatever your fancy, make this happen by packing your favorite game beforehand, making sure it has all the pieces and telling your thanksgiving crew what you’re up to. If it’s little kids, no doubt they could operate your iphone blindfolded, so put your device on a high-up shelf and get them into a game of hide n’ seek. Besides highlighting the fact that you really do have creaky bones, it’ll get your blood flowing, aiding in digestion, and keep all the electronics sleeping for at least an hour. Imagine the difference if every household in America committed to this for just 60 minutes on Thanksgiving! And yes I’m aware football exists but I won’t acknowledge it and I won’t respond to it.
Create a Prize for the Prettiest Veggie Dish: Besides taking an extra step to make vegetarian and vegan loved ones feel welcome and fuzzy, a big holiday meal is the perfect time to commence operation vegetable: getting America to love each and every green thing, one green holiday at a time. One way to do this is to create a competition. In a contemporary Iron Chef world, nothing gets people creative like only have 3 seconds on the clock. Everyone knows that veggies steal the show for presentation value with their rainbow hues, but more importantly, they keep us healthy, vitalized and strong and everyone should be eating more of them. Encourage people to try a veggie they don’t eat too often and investigate a side dish that highlights its very special individual qualities. It can be a fun way to get kids learning about their vegetables, too.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our suggestions and tips and remember that if everyone makes one tiny change, the results can be huge!
Happy Holidays and Stay Warm,
The moss team