It may seem next to impossible to maintain a sustainable lifestyle especially during the holiday season. You have friends and family of different backgrounds and beliefs gathering together in one space, making it difficult to keep up and enforce the habits that make sustainable living possible! But we think thanksgiving and Christmas are times when it really counts to be “green” considering how far some foods travel to reach your plates and how much food goes to waste in the end. According to the New York Post, of the 165 billion dollars of food wasted each year, 277 million dollars will be wasted during Thanksgiving (2016). And we believe that this doesn’t have to be the case. We can all make small changes during our holiday to contribute to not wasting food; if we all made a little effort, it would go a long way!
One of the easiest ways to adopt a sustainable practice is to not use any paper or plastic dinnerware, including napkins. Use washable ceramic or glass dinnerware and silverware—yes, it requires some extra washing time, but that is what the grandkids are for, right? And if you find that your attendance is just too high to have dinnerware, use compostable paper plates and compost them at home! Same goes for decorations; consider buying decorations that you can use year after year rather than opting for the disposable cardboard banners that just end up in a garbage dump.
Speaking of composting, having your own compost bin to throw your vegetable scraps and other organic materials is a fantastic way to stay green—even better if you have a worm bin! Instead of adding vegetable scraps to the already-mounding garbage on Thanksgiving Day, throw it in the compost bin or a worm compost bin and use it to add nutrients to your spring garden. Also, you can boil vegetable scraps in a broth to use for later before composting them.
And of course, you should be buying as much local produce and food items as you can. According to The World Watch Institute, as cited on smithsonianmag.org, foods such as potatoes, turkeys, and cranberries travel up to 2,500 miles on average to reach grocery stores across the country. Buying locally grown food, you are helping to cut the fuel that it takes to transfer these foods from large industrial farms to your community. Not only are you investing in your local economy, you’re investing in your neighbors who grew and raised it and promoting sustainable practices as an integral part of your community.