As the Thanksgiving feast descends upon us, we at Maxim Hygiene urge you to give thanks to Mother Earth this year and think about the long term effects of our practices around this holiday. Try and celebrate in a way that minimizes your carbon footprint and honors the planet’s gifts to us. Our environment is what enables our every breath; the ocean is the bedrock of all life. As you head towards New Years and consider resolutions and goals for yourself, meditate on your environmental impact and your choices. Truthfully, we could all feel a bit guilty when considering all the easy ways to go green, but instead we encourage you to think about all the positive impacts your choices can make. Tally the gallons of water saved, the miles not driven, and what the reach is of your words. Instead of lecturing your family and friends (as I do), lead by example! Ditch the themed paper plates and opt for old dishes. Recycle properly; up-cycle for decorations. Here are five ways to create a more eco-friendly and sustainable thanksgiving:
1) Shop local farmer’s markets
Instead of buying everything at your nearby supermarket, try to buy produce that was grown locally. Buying locally cultivated and created products is generally more sustainable. It has an essential role in providing employment, preserves farmland, improves the environment, and offers generally healthier alternatives. There are a surprising number of mom-and-pop businesses that use local goods and an even greater range of items to buy. Not only are there stalls for fresh produce, but there are some businesses focused solely on honey, or cheese curds, or jalapeno jams, or kettle corn, or marinades. If nothing else, a trip to your local farmer’s markets will leave you with a belly fully of samples and perhaps a new staple for your kitchen closet. Download the American Farmers Markets or Harvest to Hand mobile apps onto your cell phone to find local markets by you!
2) Try and go zero-waste
As the feeding frenzy winds down, make an effort to collect and compost any scraps or leftovers not given to the family pets. Composting kitchen scraps can have a monumental impact on the environment. Almost 25% of the waste Americans send to landfills is organic waste, meaning kitchen scraps that could have been composted to then give life to a tree and mini-ecosystem somewhere. Keeping food waste out of landfills doesn’t just save space, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as the decomposition in landfills creates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane from landfills traps 84 times more heat in our atmosphere meaning the immediate reduction of such waste in the open can have immediate effects on global warming and perhaps temper the accelerated rate at which polar ice caps are melting. For more tips on going zero-waste, check out our Resources section at the end!
3) Go vegetarian
While the carbon footprint of turkey consumption is minimal compared to red meat, trying a vegetarian or even vegan feast can dramatically reduce your environmental impact. Consider the resources, labor, energy, and chemicals used to raise a turkey compared to a stalk of corn. In fact, the United Nations believes that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and yet to keep up, food production will have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s surging population. That’s a crisis many of us will be facing in our lifetimes — food shortages, fresh water shortages, and a widening gap between those who can afford healthy options and those who are eating whatever they can to survive. If those who are privileged make better choices, we can slow the detrimental effects our actions have catalyzed.
Instead of a bird centerpiece, consider butternut squash and sage lasagna, pumpkin mac n’ cheese, or cranberry quinoa stuffed pumpkins. For more inspiration check out Buzzfeed’s list of Delicious Vegan Recipes below.
4) Donate while you shop!
One of the easiest ways to donate during the holidays is to pick up extra while you shop. Most grocery stores participate in food drives and fundraisers by placing boxes at the front of the store where customers can drop off non-perishable goods for their less fortunate counterparts. It’s a great way to influence other people’s habits — pick up healthier options like organically produced coffee grounds or our bleach- and chlorine-free tampons! Supplies like sanitary napkins, flashlights and batteries, blankets, and canned goods are all high on the list for most shelters and banks so be sure to grab some of those from the aisles too!
5) Go organic
Organic farming works with nature and supports biodiversity to preserve soil quality and the delicate balance of our ecosystem. Conventional farming, on the other hand, poisons our water supplies, destroys land and kills off many plant and animal species. While you scour the farmer’s market or the supermarket, look for stickers that certify organic production so that you can be sure your purchase is supporting sustainable and healthy farming practices. And always, consider the distance your food has traveled — the shorter the distance and time from the farm to your plate, the better. If you want to add a feminist twist to your organic initiatives, you can also stock your restrooms with organic tampons. Your menstruating guests will totally thank you for it!
101 Tips on Going Zero Waste: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/101-easy-eco-friendly-zero-waste-tips
App to Find Local Produce: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nrdc-eat-local/id499102490
Bleach + Chlorine Free Tampons: https://www.maximhy.com/organic-tampons/non-applicator.html
Vegan Recipes: http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/41-delicious-vegan-thanksgiving-recipes