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10 Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

John Platt, November 22, 2010

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Me, I'm thankful for the beautiful planet we have, the wonderful foods we get to eat, the amazing people we know and love, and for the knowledge that some things can be done in a slightly more eco-friendly manner this Thanksgiving season.

Like what, you ask? Read on.

1. Cook for many (or for none). The bigger a meal you prepare, the lower the per-meal impact of your kitchen appliances. So invite a lot of friends and relatives over to one house. Or take things in the opposite direction and go to a restaurant. Who says you need to prepare everything yourself?

2. Don't drive. The roads are always packed on Thanksgiving, which means that travel is usually slow and the fall air is full of fumes and particulates. So stay local. If you miss everybody, use your phone and webcam to say hello. It will seem like they're there and you won't need to drive four hours to eat and then turn around to go home.

3. If you must fly or drive, purchase some carbon credits to make up to your emissions. You can find several places that offer carbon credits in the Green Hands USA archive.

4. Buy a free-range, local turkey. There are several farms in my area offering turkeys that haven't been frozen and shipped thousands of miles. Ours is already in the fridge.

5. Or skip the turkey. My sister is a vegetarian, so she buys a tofurkey every year. Maybe this is the year you give the bird a pardon and see how good properly prepared bean curd can taste.

6. Buy local, organic vegetables. Ask around. You'll find them. And if you can't find the "traditional" yams, potatoes, corn, etc., try something different. Every Thanksgiving meal doesn't have to be a clone of the previous year's meal.

7. Go for a walk! This is my favorite Thanksgiving tradition. After a big meal, don't veg out in front of the TV. Bundle up and take a nice, long walk. Enjoy the outdoors, the companionship of your friends and family, get some exercise, and be thankful that you can enjoy the sun and fresh air.

If you really, really need your Thanksgiving afternoon football game, go outside and play one on your own. Trust me, it's fun!

8. Use this as an occasion to try some organic beer and wine. It might costs a few dollars more, but the price can often be worth it.

9. Leave an impact. Use this Thanksgiving to do something good that will last and last. Plant a tree in your backyard, or a series of trees through American Forests, one of my favorite non-profits. If you plant your own, you'll get to watch it grown for the next 5, 20 or 40 Thanksgivings!

10. If do cook, cook less food. Do you really need 18 different side dishes? Do you really need enough leftovers for the next six days? Trust me, you're not going to run out of food. Besides, we all need to leave room for pie, right?

What are you Thanksgiving tips? Post them here and share with the community!

Tags: Carbon, Eco-friendly, Emissions, Footprint, Holidays, Impact

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