Thanksgiving can be a somewhat decadent holiday. But, even amidst the indulgence, there is ample room for awareness and simplicity that will benefit you and the Earth. Here are a few tips for creating a greener, healthier Thanksgiving including, some of my favorite family recipes. Bon appétit!
You've all seen the stores that pop up all over the country at this time of year. They are filled with plastic masks, vinyl clothes, synthetic-hair wigs, and other disposable items you wear once and then throw out. This year, think outside of the plastic box and create your own Halloween costume using ecologically-friendly materials or previously owned items. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but really, we want to hear from you. Leave your idea in the comments.
1. A divot. Yep, as in the chunk of grass you replace when golfing. This costume involves rolling around in the dirt, wearing neutral clothing, and then affixing a small amount of grass (from your garden or the plant store) to a hat on your head. Bizarre, yes. But charming, and waste-free.
On the hunt for new bedding, one is presented with exhaustive (and exhausting) options. Sateen or jersey? Is there a difference between the 300- and 800-threadcount comforter? What is pima cotton? And how on earth can you choose a mattress after lying on it for five minutes at Sleepy's? Throw sustainability and organics in the mix and it's more confounding that ever.
You don't needus to tell you that our dependence on crude needs to change—and this couldn't be truer than it is now. Conservative estimates say the leak in the Gulf spewed 200,000 gallons a day; others say it’s closer to 3 million. Either way the environmental and economic repercussions are going to be disastrous.
We all need to do some adjusting—and we can do much more than just avoid the gas station. There are 42 gallons in one barrel of oil. About 20 gallons of a barrel go to gasoline, and the rest goes into making approximately 6,000 other items we regularly use, consume, and toss. So, what can we do in our own lives to reduce petroleum reliance? We can bring awareness to the products we purchase. Here are few ways you can start to reduce your daily personal intake.
Get involved. Pay attention to what is going on locally and nationwide with energy policy. Recently the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. (For a summary of the 964-page document, see Grist's handy primer.) The senate has yet to vote on it, so if you support it, write to your state senator and let him or her know.
When it comes to responsible living, eating, and shopping, it can get a little overwhelming to keep track of the things you should and shouldn't do. So lest anyone use the "I can't do anything right, so I'll do everything wrong" excuse, we've decided to simplify. Earth Day was last week, but obviously we aren't going to get anywhere unless we all start behaving like every day as Earth Day. Turns out, our president agrees.
Ever heard the adage "Eastern medicine tells you the train is coming, Western medicine tells you you’ve been hit by it"? It applies to our relationship with waste, too: We make a mess then try to find ways of dealing with it, as opposed to preventing the mess in the first place. A great example is recycling—it's important to do, sure, but precycling is far more effective, and there is no better place to start than your own mailbox.
An estimated 4 million tons of junk mail are sent each year, and much of it never even gets opened. If a million people stopped receiving junk mail, we could save up to a million and a half trees annually. Meanwhile, pulp and paper mills are among the largest environmental pollutants in the country, to say nothing of the energy required to print, distribute, and recycle paper in the first place. With that in mind, here are our instructions for achieving Mailbox Zero.