How to Have a More Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

Turkeys Play i i

hide captionTwo turkeys play in a feeding house at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, Calif. More than 45 million turkeys are consumed in the United States on Thanksgiving.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Turkeys Play

Two turkeys play in a feeding house at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, Calif. More than 45 million turkeys are consumed in the United States on Thanksgiving.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Grandma Holds Turkey in 1945

hide captionJust because your mother told you to wash your dishes carefully back in 1945, doesn't mean you can't just pop them in the dishwasher in 2007 and thereby save some water.

American Stock/Getty Images

Excess is a key element of Thanksgiving for many people. Unfortunately, this often means that people are not being so kind to the environment.

While preparing to heap the tables high with food, here are a few tips to make the holiday a little more eco-friendly:

1.) Buy Local

Buying locally grown produce helps support community farmers and reduces emissions produced by big transport trucks, says David Stephen, Whole Foods team leader.

2.) Buy a Pastured Turkey

Turkeys that are raised on grass and bugs in open pastures are more eco-friendly, says Jo Robinson, founder of the Web site EatWild.com. Among other benefits, the turkeys are good recyclers; their manure is generally used to help grow the grasses they eat.

3.) Skip the Turkey Altogether

One could follow the lead of Nature Conservancy scientist M. Sanjayan and choose a native protein instead. In his case this means elk or venison — in Missoula, Mont.

4.) Avoid Paper Plates

Resist the temptation to purchase wasteful holiday-themed paper plates and go for dishwasher-friendly reusables.

5.) Cut Back on Washing

Though your mother may have told you to wash your plate before putting it in the dishwasher, that's not really necessary any more. Save water by simply scraping and loading.

6.) Inflate Your Tires

Maximize your mileage by making sure your tires are inflated properly. "There is actually more oil to save in our tires than there is in the whole Alaskan wildlife refuge — so it has a huge environmental benefit as well as savings to your checkbook," says Dale Bryk of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

7.) Splurge on a Non-Stop Flight

Next time you're pondering whether it's worth spending a little extra to fly nonstop, consider the following: the average domestic flight uses about 100 gallons of gas per passenger. Fewer take-offs and landings mean less environmental damage.

8.) Offset Your Carbon — Carefully

A bit of greenhouse gas guilt can be relieved by purchasing carbon offsets. You may want to shop around, however. Some carbon offsets are oriented around causes that you may not want to support — like methane capture at large or crammed animal farms.

9.) Don't Shop

This Friday marks the 15th year of a counterculture holiday known as Buy Nothing Day. If you'd like to cut down on consumption, join the effort and refuse to shop.

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