As friends and family gather ’round the bountiful Thanksgiving dinner table this year, we have a lot to be thankful for, America. Perhaps nothing more than our institutions of higher learning—and their advice on how to enjoy a “green” Turkey Day.
Speaking of which, the good folks on the Harvard University EcoOpportunity Team have five tips to get us started.
1. End wasteful practices.
Use reusable dinnerware, glasses and napkins. Not only is it better for the environment, but who likes cutting turkey with a plastic knife and hoping the gravy won’t soak through the paper plate?
2. Purchase local and organic foods when possible.
There are significant benefits of using local and organic foods, and free range and naturally fed animals taste better. While a lot of these choices may seem cost-prohibitive, buying even one or two items locally and/or organically grown can make a difference.
3. Eat mindfully.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a day for eating to excess, but if you take a few moments to enjoy your food and eat with a purpose, you’ll most likely find that you’ve eaten less than you normally do.
4. Eat less meat.
The meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, which is a major contributor to climate change. Another major environmental impact of a meat-eating diet is the depletion of natural resources. Even if you’re not vegetarian, try adding a little less meat to your plate and filling the rest of the plate with healthy sides, such as squash, green beans or kale.
5. Get outside.
The temperature around Thanksgiving is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Connecting with nature doesn’t have to involve hiking up a mountain, just being outside and feeling the sun on your face improves your mood and health greatly.
Okay, sounds good. So far. But there’s more.
While you’re enjoying that delicious turkey dinner — which was roasted in an oven that “uses energy and creates emissions,” as we’re reminded by our friends at the University of California, Santa Barbara — you’ll want to engage in meaningful conversation.
As luck would have it, Michigan State University’s got you covered.
“When you gather with your elders over the holiday, encourage them to talk about when things weren’t protected the way they are now.
[You] could talk about when the Cuyahoga River caught fire, or when piles of alewives washed up on the beaches of the Great Lakes, or local sites of environmental pollution.”
And if you’re not sure how to engage in what could be a contentious post-election conversation, the Georgetown University Medical Center has published a survival guide with a few hot tips.
- Avoid alcohol and substances that reduce ability to think clearly and to control anger
- Don’t sit close to those who might challenge your opinions
- Remind yourself and others of areas of common ground
- Change the topic (“What I’d really like to hear about is…”)
- Suggest talking at a later time
- Avoid disrespectful behavior and abusive language
- If you feel the conversation is going south, politely excuse yourself from the table
So there you have it, America. Gobble, gobble!