Updated: Dec 6, 2020
How to have a lower-waste Thanksgiving
Obviously, it’s not entirely possible to have a perfectly zero-waste Thanksgiving in all circumstances. If you can, good for you! But, I’m here to give you some tips for how to have less of an impact this Thanksgiving. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I encourage you to still read along as you can still implement these for other holidays.
This post is in collaboration with my two good friends Coco Shin and Susie from Chew On That! You can watch their videos below for more vegan holiday recipes. I will talk more about their channels and recipes below in the feast section.
Have plenty of washable cups, bowls, plates, silverware, pans, and so forth. Ask neighbors, friends, and family members to borrow extra to avoid buying new or even thrift a few extra to keep for future use or even return them in the coming weeks or months
Don’t use disposable baking dishes
Sometimes, you do need to make several casseroles, yes, but do your best to avoid using single-use dishes. Borrow casserole dishes from neighbors or friends. As a last resort, buy the designed-to-be-single-use dishes but reuse them! What? Reuse them? Yup, they're not waste until you waste them and aluminum is easy to wash and reuse again!
Make stuff at home to avoid packaging! That is where some of my recipes come in...
Let’s start with rolls. This delicious recipe I followed by Domestic Gothess for fluffy Hokkaido vegan bread I turned into rolls helps us to use less plastic. Hokkaido is the northernmost region of Japan known for its cow's milk. When you buy bread, that plastic cannot be recycled. Sure, you can repurpose it, but try to avoid it altogether. Plus, you can control the ingredients and flavors and make it exactly how you want. You can find the recipe here or you can watch me make it in this video.
I also made my own broth from veggie scraps which I use often to make soups (a Thanksgiving staple) but I took it a step further and used the broth to make vegan gravy. Vegan gravy is becoming more and more popular to find in stores, but unfortunately for me, I can’t find it here. So, I make it myself, but I also do this to avoid packaging. I followed a simple recipe by Connoisseurs Veg and here is the link for my veggie broth made with food scraps.
Let’s talk about dessert. Homemade. Apple. Pie. You might be wondering how this is low waste. If you source your apples locally, make your own crust, and repurpose the apple peels/cores, this is a super low waste dessert! I simply followed the pie crust recipe on the back of the shortening container cut in half since I’m only making one pie. I got apples from my local farmers market, too. Finally, after peeling and coring my apples, I saved those bits, added a bit of water and sugar, and let them sit for a few weeks. After that, they’ll turn into ACV! The recipe is a secret family recipe that I will not be sharing fully, I just turned it vegan by using vegan butter! Just use your favorite recipe.
Chew on That is all about embracing the good life. Susie talks about all things from environmental sustainability to homemade recipes to meditation and mental clarity. Susie is your go-to gal for, literally, embracing the good life! Find her video here for a recipe for cranberry sauce and stuffing.
Coco is such an upbeat person and just brightens my day . She also focuses on environmental sustainability and is a big activist for a vegan lifestyle. She also talks about tricky political topics and shines light on these areas that need to be talked about. Find here video here for a recipe for mini pumpkin pies and mini green bean casserole. She also has a video on her channel taste testing FIVE vegan holiday roasts!
Speaking of...eat more vegan options and less non-vegan options
Going vegan can cut your carbon footprint by up to 73% alone! So, try to cut out as much meat and dairy from your Thanksgiving spread as possible. I know, it can be hard to stray from tradition and it can be hard to cut cold turkey (every single pun was indeed intended there), but do what you can this Thanksgiving. Even if it’s just something as simple as using vegan butter and vegan whipped cream instead of dairy. If you go all out and don’t consume turkey either, good for you!
Dandies is a brand of vegan marshmallows for sweet potato casserole
Gardein makes vegan meats and roasts as well as Beyond meat
Blue diamond milk
So delicious vegan dairy
Earth balance butter and others
Quorn vegan meats
Miyoko’s vegan cheese
Morning star (but not all are vegan)
Buy local as much as possible
This goes for food, decorations, and so forth. The closer to your home you source your goods, the less gas and diesel will have to be used to ship items to your home and the fewer emissions that will have to be used
Chose better transportation
Gotta travel to meet your family? Think about how you’re going to get there. If you can drive, do that over flying. If you can carpool, do that instead of taking multiple cars. Transportation is another leading cause of CO2 emissions, so be smart about how you travel this holiday season from Thanksgiving all the way to New Years celebrations, especially with the virus.
Chose waste-free or less wasteful games
I have seen games like wrapping plastic, gimmick toys in saran wrap, and other wasteful things like that. Don’t do that, please. Instead, have fun responsibly. Play card games or board games. Play games like horseshoes or corn holes or even Jackbox or other smart tv games. There are plenty of ways to have fun without falling victim to consumerism and wasteful habits.
Send leftovers home with those who will actually eat them
Don’t throw leftovers away! It is estimated that 200 million pounds of turkey, 40 million pounds, of potatoes, and 30 million pounds of stuffing (just to name a few) will head to the landfill after Thanksgiving every year. Save them for yourself or send them home to people who will actually eat them. I know people who are legitimately anti-leftovers, but please don’t contribute to those numbers this year. Let’s work to make those numbers smaller. Let’s not kill innocent turkeys just for them to end up in the dump. Methane
Thank you so much for reading along. Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate that or Happy Holiday season! I hope you found this post helpful in some way and can implement it now or save these tips for later in the year or next year. I appreciate your time and support on my content :)
As always, remember that the small changes you make have a big impact in the long run!