Be less wasteful this Thanksgiving

Flickr photo by Hey Paul

As a vegan, I know that my diet can make a bigger positive impact on the environment. Not only do I save many animals, but by not eating meat, I do not contribute to the large amount of water and CO2 that is used to just make one hamburger, steak or pack of chicken nuggets. And as a green vegan, I try to waste less and use more.

However, that is not the case this weekend, when many turkeys are consumed in honor of Thanksgiving. According to Dana Gunders, project scientist for the National Resources Defense Council, Americans will toss $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash, in addition to “resources necessary for its production — 105 billion gallons of water (enough to supply New York City for over 100 days) and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco.”

To break that down, the resources needed to produce just one pound of turkey “are equivalent to driving your car 11 miles and taking a 130-minute shower at 4 gallons per minute.”

And while we will purchase more than 700 million pounds of the meat to honor a tradition, we will be throwing about 204 million pounds away.

As we know, the power is in the wallet, so take these things into consideration when you eat this holiday weekend.

  • Do you eat meat? Don’t throw leftovers away! Plan now for what you will do with the leftover meat and sides before you even cook the bird, in order to combat leftover fatigue.
  • Try to incorporate a meatless product in this year’s feast. While I am not saying get rid of the turkey on short notice (Grandpa might get mad!), maybe buy a smaller bird and try one of these great products. While my Tofurky failed horribly in 2009 (I heard you should marinate it first, just like a real bird), the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute is amazing and my whole family clamors for a slice year after year.
  • Turn Thanksgiving into ThanksLiving with a few tips, such as sponsoring a turkey!

How do you make your Thanksgiving eco-friendly? What do you do with the leftovers?

Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University and has been a vegetarian and geek for more than six years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie

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