Working towards a ‘greener’ Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

This is the time of year where family and friends can get together and celebrate the holidays with each other.  One of the most common ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, along with the parade and football games, is the full course feast that is prepared by families and friends every year.  We’re here to offer some tips in the feast making department that can hopefully create a more delicious dinner while lowering your overall impact on the environment.  We’ll offer holiday tips, some that you probably know and others that will be new, and we hope you consider them this season.

Photo courtesy of Cross Fit Impulst


This year, consider ordering organic or free range turkeys.  ‘Organic’ means that your turkey has only been fed organic feed and has been kept free of antibiotics, while ‘free range’ means that this turkey hasn’t been confined to a pen.  You’ll be able to find these turkeys at any natural foods grocer, which are quite prevalent in the Madison area; you can also try connecting directly with a farmer in your area using the American LIvestock Breeds website  Sustainable turkeys aren’t always the easiest things to come by.  If you’re feeling really daring this Thanksgiving, you could also try going without a turkey (because there are so many plentiful sides), or consider an alternative.  Instead, try a tofurkey!! The turkey meat substitute is quickly gaining notoriety and appreciation for its low environmental impact and great taste.  If you can’t find a sustainable turkey, don’t fret, let your tofurkey save the day.

Photo courtesy of Summer Tomato


There are 2 very important things to consider when looking at produce as well.  Local produce and in-season produce.  Local produce means it has come from nearby farmers. Purchasing local produce lessens the environmental impact of transportation and treatment of the meal, while also benefiting the community by buying from farmers in your area.  In-Season means purchasing goods that are grown and mean to be harvested around this time of year.  This is something that many of us already do without realizing it.  Back in the old days, pilgrims didn’t have the ability to ship foods from other regions to their area, instead, they ate food that was growing nearby at the time (see the benefits of local produce above).  Cut down on the travel cost of foods by looking for things like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and cranberries which are produced nearby and are in season in the fall.  So the traditional meals that we consider staples of our Thanksgiving sides, are already in-season.  The more important thing is to try to lessen any out of season produce you would purchase instead.


Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Years, the average household waste production increases 25% (or about 4-5 tons)?  With the massive amounts of food that people are making along with all the guests visiting, it’s no wonder that there is so much extra garbage.  However, this year, we urge you to consider composting the leftover food scraps that won’t be eaten.  Either start your own compost which can be used for gardening in the spring, or contact F.H. King and learn about their Full Cycle Freight program which picks up compost.

Don’t let the holidays distract you from conscious thinking about the environment.  Even doing 1 or 2 of these things will lessen your overall impact this season. credit:

EnAct Intern Adam



Entry filed under: other.

Sustainability History Sustainability Conference Month

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