Have a Healthy, Sustainable Thanksgiving

While you’re gathering with loved ones this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to give thanks for the environment! 

The Sustainable Food Center of Austin offers a wealth of information to help you “gobble green” this Thanksgiving holiday, and Green Mountain would like to share some of their own tips for an eco-friendly celebration.  Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

Buy Organic, Natural, and Local Foods

Give your family a special treat this Thanksgiving by going 100% organic.  By purchasing organic, you avoid harmful pesticides and fertilizers.  If purchasing packaged organic goods is harder to find or out of your price range, you can still go natural by simply reading labels and choosing products with 5 ingredients or less.  The rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not a natural ingredient.  Go the extra mile this holiday and find a local farmer’s market (http://www.localharvest.org/) for your fresh produce.  Buying local food supports community farmers who value sustainable practices and reduces the miles your food travels from farm to plate.  

Upgrade Your Main Course

  • Instead of going to your supermarket and buying a factory farm-raised turkey, do some research and elect to purchase a humanely-raised organic turkey, raised wild – or “free range” in pastures.  Organic or free-range turkeys are raised without hormones, antibiotics, and aren’t pumped with fillers–which tastes better, and is good for you and the environment.   To find a free range turkey for delivery, check out http://eatwild.com/products or visit your local organic grocer like Whole Foods Market. 
  • Livestock contributes 18% of overall greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. You might want to consider going meatless this Thanksgiving by purchasing a Tofurkey – a faux turkey made of purely vegetarian proteins tofu and seitan. Tofurkeys can be purchased at local grocery stores or online at http://www.tofurky.com/.
  • You could also become part of the new Thanksgiving tradition of Adopting a Turkey. Through a one-time $30 donation to Farm Sanctuary, you can save the life of a turkey living in one of their three shelters. The Adopt a Turkey website also features delicious meatless recipes to add to your table this holiday.

Keep Up the 3 R’s

While it can be easy to fall out of your normal routine when you’re hosting a house full of guests, don’t forget the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Many people don’t realize that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases by 25% and electricity consumption increases by 24%!  Reduce your holiday impact on the environment by recycling all paper, glass, aluminum and plastic materials, composting leftover produce scraps, and using reusable dishware instead of disposables.

Gather & Cook Consciously

Thanksgiving is reportedly the most-traveled holiday in the United States. Friends and family gather from all across the country via plane, train, and automobile to celebrate and feast together. Turkeys need roasting, potatoes need baking, and veggies need steaming. Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is an enormous energy-consuming holiday! Here are some tips from Green Mountain to help reduce your carbon footprint this year:

  • Using glass and ceramic cookware conserves heat and will allow you to bake or broil your food at as much as 25 degrees lower than your recipe calls for.
  •  Be aware of how often you open and close your oven door, as the Energy and Environmental Building Association reports that your oven temperature can lower by 25 degrees each time the door is opened.
  •  Consider using public transportation, like buses and trains, to visit your loved ones.
  • Use seasonal candles to light your dinner table instead of overhead lights.
  • Compost any food left uneaten on dinner plates, and save the rest in containers in the refrigerator. Make sure not to overcrowd the fridge though, as overcrowding blocks circulation and forces your fridge to work harder to keep those items cool.

Green Mountain Energy wishes you a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving holiday!