Thanksgiving is a time known to most as “Turkey Day”, a time spent with wonderful people eating roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey (if you eat meat), and possibly a seasonal favourite… pumpkin pie! But beyond the food filled tables, sometimes we forget Thanksgiving is actually a holiday meant for us to reflect on all the things we enjoy and are lucky to have in our lives. Family and friends are always at the top of the list, along with good health, food and shelter. I am of course thankful for all of these things, as I’m sure you are too. I am thankful to have amazing people in my life I can make meaningful connections with, I am thankful to be a healthy human being, live in a safe place, and have access to good food. But we would not have any of these things if it weren’t for the place we live: Earth.
Earth is a beautiful place that miraculously allows life to thrive. It has useful resources we need and use to live among the millions of other creatures, from the depths of the seas to our backyards and balconies. It has sunsets and sunrises, snowy mountains, lakes, plants, and amazing places to explore. Sometimes, we take the Earth and its resources for granted, not realizing that it is amazing to have beaten the odds of existence and are experiencing such a wondrous place. We need to recognize this specialness, and show our appreciation for life by being better to the things and places we love.
So how can we be thankful for the Earth during Thanksgiving?
I’m sure there are many, many things we can all do better at any holiday, but I’ve come up with a few specific ones to show our thanks by being better to the Earth.
The first is simple, and is focused around our decorations. If you already have fall decorations, great! Try to get the most use out of them by reusing them from year to year. If you are thinking of revamping your table centerpieces or wreaths, think about our access to natural materials at this time of year. Pinecones, twigs, colourful leaves, and cedar make for great fall themed decorations and are right at your fingertips.
You can also help the Earth out by not wasting food. Canada has one of the highest wasted food ratings in the world at about 25% of all edible food being thrown out. Some of this happens at an industry level, in production or at commercial farms, throwing out food that might be the wrong shape, size, or colour. It also happens on an individual or residential basis, which is the part we can help to minimize. Wasting food that is perfectly good to eat in the first place has a harmful effect on the environment, and also on our pockets (money). Imagine throwing away a quarter of what you buy each time you grocery shop. Most food thrown away could have been avoided in the first place, and most of what is thrown away consists of produce and LEFTOVERS.
This is where Thanksgiving or any big holiday comes into play. Around these times we are often eating lots of food, and make way more than we need, pack up the leftovers, and throw them all out a week later when we are “turkey-ed out”. This Thanksgiving is a great time to stop over cooking and taking beyond your means to help save the amount of food being produced.
The last one I’m going to mention is buying local. Whether you are buying farm fresh eggs, or items from a farmers market or fruit stand, buying local saves on the travelling foods do to get to our grocery stores, which ultimately reduces our carbon emissions.
Sustainable decorations, conscious food portions, and buying local are great ways to reduce during the holidays, and three things we can do to lessen our overall impact. So this Thanksgiving, be thankful to live in a beautiful world with magnificent places and resources. Be thankful to be around people who care, and be thankful to share this planet with so many other beautiful beings. Show your thanks to the world by doing a small action every day in appreciation for what it has done for us. Show it respect, compassion, care for it, and be thankful that we have it.
Oh, and maybe skip the cling wrap on your Thanksgiving food, containers with lids work too!