Friday, November 20, 2015

Greening up Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. I love it so much I invited 30-ish people to celebrate with us this year. But you know what I don't like? The excess--too much food, too much waste, too much noise, too much rushing, too many people, too many uncomfortable political or theological conversations...I'm an extrovert who loves to entertain, but even for me, it's a lot. 

So I've gathered some tips (inspired by this post) to make the holiday more manageable (but watch this for help with the uncomfortable conversations thing). If you desire to make your Thanksgiving a seasonal feast that reflects on all that you're thankful for, here are a few ways to tread a bit lighter on Mother Earth and make your Thanksgiving meal meaningful:

1. Eat less meat.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined.  Take a minute to let that sink in. And we know that whole-food, plant-based diets are better for us. So here's your chance to help your body and our planet! Does every dish need to have meat? Are there substitutions you can make? There are countless online resources for vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes. Here's a good start from the folks at Food Network

2. Eat seasonal and locally-sourced foods:

For the past two years, we've bought our turkey from a local Amish farmer. We know the animals were humanely treated and what they were fed. I also plan to make persimmon pudding from pulp harvested by a member of our congregation. Find a local farmer's market to buy your potatoes or green beans if you can. has some great suggestions for creating a local Thanksgiving menu. There's even a movement from Sustainable America to have a 100 mile Thanksgiving to use less fuel and support local farms. 

3. Be aware of packaging waste:

Buying local can help reduce packaging waste. When I'm buying produce, I skip the plastic bags found at the grocery store and use a small sized reusable bag instead. We recycle all cardboard and as many plastic bags as we can. Glass jars and tin cans are re-purposed or recycled. If I have a choice between buying a product using styrofoam packaging and one without, I always opt for the product with less packaging. 

4. Wash the dishes:

Though much depends on the detergent you use and the efficiency of your dishwasher, it's almost always better to wash your dishes than to use disposable plates, silverware, and cups. This article from The Sierra Club helps weigh the benefits of using porcelain over paper. 

5. Waste less food:

Did you know that almost half of all food in the United States is thrown away before it's consumed? Few things make me feel worse than wasting food. But who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftovers? In my opinion, they're even better than the first time around. Here's a roundup of recipes to use up the leftovers that might be even better than the original. Just in case you don't, you know, eat them straight out of the container while watching football games on the couch.

6. Have an attitude of gratitude:

It's Thanksgiving, after all! When you list off what you're thankful for, where does the Earth rank? Heighten your awareness of how God's creation inspires and cares for you on a daily basis like in the foods you eat or in a beautiful sunset. This awareness can lead to a greater appreciation for the earth, and in turn, more intentional care for creation.

Want to know more? Go to for more about the food, faith, and climate connection. You can also visit Interfaith Power and Light's page. And of course, consider inviting me to your congregation or small group to talk about Faith in Place.

What do you do to green your Thanksgiving? I'd love to share recipes and hear your tips!  
Happy Thanksgiving! 

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