Your 9-Step Guide To A Planet-Happy Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude and reflection, but often, we are so swept up in details and obligations that we forget to take the time to appreciate everything our Earth has, literally, brought to the table. With these 9 steps, make this Thanksgiving your greenest yet.


The time of year is approaching when we tend to want to bury ourselves in oversized sweaters, fill our stomachs with hot cocoa, and shut out the world outside. But it is especially important during this time period, when consumerism and environmental degradation skyrockets, that we express our gratitude for Mother Earth. After all, the Earth is the reason we’re able to bundle up and feel so at home. My last post focused on initiating a candid conversation about environmental gratitude, and the intent of this one is to expand that conversation to actionable items you can check off this Thanksgiving holiday.

Step 1. Thank the Earth! This step is perhaps the most important. Whether you do this through poetry, painting, planting trees, or simply taking a breath of fresh air, expressing gratitude is critical to the survival of our species and our planet. And of course, be sure to not exclude Mother Earth when going around the table saying what you’re grateful for.


Step 2. Going somewhere? Take the bus. If your relatives live on the same coast, chances are there’s a bus line that passes right by them.


Step 3. Reconsider the turkey. Turkeys seem like the Thanksgiving staple, but over 45 million of them die each year due to Thanksgiving alone.


Step 4. Speaking of turkey, choose wisely. Make sure that your turkey, if you choose to cook one, is from a local source. Heritage breed turkeys, for instance, are raised in the outdoors on a pasture instead of in confined quarters where their droppings could pollute waterways. (Plus, some scientists and farmers contend that heritage breed turkeys are the healthiest kind.)


Step 5. Go with tradition and do NOT use plastic plates or utensils. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is looking at the table and not seeing a plastic fork or knife in sight. While we should ideally never dine with plastic, make sure that your -- or your host’s -- kitchen is spared the monstrous artificial burden. Offer to help with the dishes to ease the host's mile-long chore list AND help the environment.

Step 6. Talk. In order to change things, we must first talk about them. This Thanksgiving, take advantage of being around people who may be from different areas than you, or who at least have different perspectives than you, and facilitate a candid dinner table conversation about our climate and environment. Some topics/questions to get you started:

    How has climate change impacted the area you grew up in/are now?

    What will the world’s climate be like 50 years from now?
    What’s the greatest danger our planet faces?

    What natural wonder are you most thankful for?


Step 7. Stuff yourself! You probably weren’t expecting this one. But as this article reminds us, food waste is one of the most hefty environmental tragedies of Thanksgiving. According to the Worldwatch Institute, Americans produce “an extra 5 million tons of household waste each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.” That’s three times as much waste as any other time of the year! Try not to overcook, and be sure to eat ALL of the food you prepare.

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Step 8. Skip Black Friday We know consumerism is bad for the planet, but did you consider that on Black Friday, retail workers lose their Thanksgiving holiday? Or that in 2014 alone, $50.9 billion was spent on Black Friday? Black Friday can deprive the holidays of the sense of gratitude we work so hard to attain.


Step 9. Get outside! Take advantage of being surrounded by friends and family and celebrate the occasion in the most memorable way possible -- right in your front yard.

The takeaway? Making this Thanksgiving your greenest one yet isn't as tedious a task as you might think. It takes gratitude and an open mind. Let's spread the Thanksgiving spirit long after the dishes are washed and the table cleared.


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