Greening Your Thanksgiving on a Budget, Part 1: The Meal: Green Tips

Updating your traditions doesn’t have to be painful, or even difficult. There are plenty of small, simple changes you can incorporate in your holiday planning to make your season more environmentally-friendly.  Hey, making a few changes is better than nothing!  It makes us all more aware of our actions, and for that I am thankful.

Small changes can make a meal go from eco disaster to eco dream:

Eating vegetarian: Under most circumstances, eating vegetarian is better for the environment as well as your budget. Turkey lovers: don’t fret. Try upping the amount of vegetarian dishes and buying a local turkey. Eating vegetarian fare will cost you less and you’ll be surprised by how much wonderfully comforting fall vegetarian fare there is to feast on for Thanksgiving: apple-walnut stuffing, acorn squash with cranberries to name a few.

At a loss for new vegetarian recipes? I found this great book on Amazon.com: Eco Cuisine: An Ecological Approach to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking by Ron Pickarski.  Pick up a used copy for as little as $1.87.

Shop local: Spend the weekend prior to Thanksgiving at your local farmer’s market (search the Local Harvest website to find local farmer’s markets) you’ll be surprised at how much of your menu can be found there: fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, meat, nuts, olive oils, vinegars, honey, cheese, bread, etc. I’ve found shopping at farmer’s markets saves me quite a bit of money because I’m buying the essentials—there are no tempting bags of chips and frozen meals I should keep in the freezer just in case I don’t feel like cooking some night in the future.

Buy organic: Organic agriculture reduces greenhouse gas emissions by locking more carbon into the soil rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Organic farming also uses 50% less energy than conventional farming methods.  Read more at the Organic Trade’s website.

Cut down on packaging: If you need to purchase from the grocery store, buy products that limit their use of packaging.

Cork it: Buy (organic!) wines that use real cork versus plastic stoppers. Harvesting cork from a small population of specific trees throughout the world not only preservers the health of these trees, but helps maintain the land and the surrounding ecosystem.  Read more.

Compost: With all that slicing and dicing, Thanksgiving is a great time to start a compost heap! Use your fruit and vegetable remnants from cooking, as well as your coffee grounds to get that pile started.  See our post on composting for more information.