November is that special time of year when Thanksgiving is approaching and we all do our best to get together with our family, sadly often for the only time all year, and sometimes even with the people we wish we’d see even more infrequently. Yet jokes aside, it is a wonderful time when the holidays are creeping nearer, the weather is crisp, and if we are lucky, we get to spend some time appreciating our loved ones and feeling some of the love ourselves. Let us remember, however, that the planet we all reside on deserves some of this love and thanks as well.
Here are some simple tips and ways to keep the upcoming holiday season as sustainable as possible, while still leaving plenty of room to indulge and enjoy ourselves!
- Try a local, free-range, or organic turkey this year. Sourcing your turkey from a local small farm, available at many local markets this time of year, is the most sustainable option for really any of your holiday meats, followed by free-range or certified organic meats. A vegan holiday meal would likely be the most truly sustainable option, yet if you’re not ready for that type of commitment, try and keep some side dishes vegan with some local veggies or non-dairy sweets.
- Shop for the rest of your holiday meals sustainably, whether that means by using reusable shopping bags or produce bags or through buying organic and local ingredients in bulk sizes to limit packaging waste.
- Carpool with family and friends for holiday get-togethers or even better, use and schedule around pubic transportation whenever available.
- Use reusable plates, cutlery, cups, and napkins for your parties and meals, or if that is not really feasible, use some recycled, natural, and compostable party supplies.
- Compost your food scraps and recycle your waste, and try to limit the amount of packaging you buy with all of the products you get to prepare for this holiday season and be mindful of how many endless garbage bags you go through.
- Limit any food waste by keeping leftovers and making sure they go home with people who will actually eat them! Use sustainable food wraps, sandwich baggies, and bowl covers to keep your leftovers fresh.
- Gather with family and give a charitable gift this year. My family had a tradition growing up that someone in the family each year would pick a charity or non-profit they liked or supported and each person or family would contribute and they would all give a big donation each year around Thanksgiving. I think this is a beautiful tradition that can spread the holiday cheer farther than just to our own families, and provides a wonderful opportunity to teach the children around us what the holidays are really about and what it means to give thanks to those around you and the planet that raised us.
- Use reusable or recyclable gift wrap for your gifts or make sure to sneak any extra gift bags or un-ripped wrapping paper back home with you to reuse again. (There is no shame! You go save that planet!) Keep the amount of packaging in mind when you are looking at what gifts to buy or where you buy them from.
- Opt for plantable or recycled cards to pair with your gifts or send out to your loved ones to reduce waste or even double as an extra cute gift! Bringing a bottle of wine? Try these cute holiday-themed reusable wine bottle gift bags!
- Give gifts that you know people will really like and use, or at least give them the receipt so they can return or exchange them if you’re not quite sure. There is no sense wasting money and materials on something that will forever sit at the bottom of a closet.
- Shop for gifts in as few trips or from as few stores as possible to limit any unnecessary travel or shipping/packaging waste. Shopping online? Look for stores that use recycled plastic-free packaging and/or offset their shipping!
- Keep in mind where your gifts are coming from, what they are made of, and what your other options may be. You’d be surprised how many new great sustainable and American-made alternatives are popping up on the market and how cheap they can be. Many people in your life, especially those who are vegan, environmentally-minded, or of a younger generation, will also see and appreciate this extra step you’ve taken and that you’ve considered their values when making your purchase.
Looking for even more ideas? Check out this Ultimate Guide to a Sustainable Holiday Season!
We hope you find these tips useful & make sure to reach out if you think there are any good ones we missed!