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Green Living

Gobble Green this Thanksgiving

Just a few changes can make your holiday more eco-friendly.

Thanksgiving is generally about three things: tradition, food and family (in no particular order). All of which can make it seem like a tough time to go green.

But look at it another way: new traditions need to start sometime, so what better day than Thanksgiving? Try going green (or greener) this year by incorporating some eco-friendly changes to your holiday shopping, food, decorations and travel with our easy — and fun — tips.

A Green Feast

Make your holiday a little more Earth friendly with any one of these four tips.

Eat Local and in Season

  • This means doing as much of your Thanksgiving Day shopping as possible at local farmers markets and farms — for food items like eggs, milk, veggies, turkey, potatoes, pie fillings and more. has a searchable map so you can hone in on foods sustainably grown and raised near you, including the turkey.
  • The eco-benefits of eating locally? Food grown or raised in your region has fewer food miles: The carbon emissions associated with local foods are smaller. The plus for you is that local fruits and veggies usually taste better because they've been picked at the peak of freshness, rather than produce shipped from thousands of miles away that had to be picked before ripening.

Shop Organic

  • The benefits to your health might not be proven, but there's no doubt that organic agriculture is better for the landscape — fewer pesticides and other toxic chemicals seeping into soil and running off into rivers and lakes.
  • Try to go organic from start to finish — and don't forget to include organic wines and other beverages on your menu!
  • When it comes to turkey, pasture-raised, organic turkeys are the way to go. Or consider buying a heritage turkey this year, defined as centuries-old breeds of turkeys that need to be raised over longer periods of time (unlike the sped-up rearing process of today's breeds).

Go Vegetarian

Eat Local, Organic AND Vegetarian

The real way to make a difference, though, is to remember there isn't a silver bullet when it comes to conservation; there are many "buckshot" ways to make a difference. Think about it: organic food may have traveled far to reach your plate, and local food may not necessarily be organic. So combine the best parts of all three, as you see fit.

It's Not Just About the Feast

What else is there to consider besides the delectables you'll be eating? Oh, just decorations, recycling, composting and travel. Here are a few quick tips to round out your big day:


  • Use the beauty of nature instead of man-made plastic. Step outside and gather some pretty oak leaves and acorns to arrange on the table. Clip some branches and put them in a vase. Use squashes or gourds as centerpieces. Here are a few more ideas for nature decorations.
  • Make sure you burn candles made from soy or beeswax rather than paraffin candles, which are made from petroleum and produce more soot than these alternatives.

Composting and Recycling:


  • Thanksgiving is often the biggest holiday for travel. And it's often something we won't compromise on just for eco-reasons. (Skip the family get-together because of climate change? That would never fly with my relatives.)
  • So offset the carbon emissions of your holiday travel. The Nature Conservancy's own carbon calculator can help you calculate the amount of carbon you emit and offer ways of offsetting those emissions.
  • If you're driving, check your air filter and make sure your tires are fully inflated; you'll reduce your carbon emissions and get better gas mileage.

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