Have a Green Thanksgiving

This year, celebrate the holidays in a way that honors Creation, keeps your family healthy, and minimizes your carbon footprint. Interfaith Power & Light has compiled these ideas for creating a climate-friendly, healthy Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!


This fall is a time for celebration, gathering close those who are important to you and sharing a meal together. Holding a Cool Harvest Potluck is the perfect fit for faith communities that love food, and are also concerned about global warming. Follow the 5 easy steps in this guide to plan and host your own Cool Harvest Potluck for friends, green team members, or for your entire congregation. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s a great way to address climate change.


Fall is a great time to savor local produce such as apples, squash, cabbage, cranberries, and pecans. Visit your community farmers market and look for ways to showcase the bounty of the local harvest at your holiday table. Find fresh local options near you at www.localharvest.org and the Eat Well Guide. Eating local food in season also reduces the number of “food miles” necessary to get food onto the table, and fewer miles mean less greenhouse gas pollution.


If you eat meat, look for free-range organic options at your grocery store using the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change. These are from animals that are fed grains or grasses that are organically grown and free of synthetic pesticides, and thus require less fossil fuel energy.

A USDA Organic label ensures that the meat was not produced with pesticides, irradiation, hormones, antibiotics, or bioengineering and a Certified Humane label ensures that the turkey was raised in humane conditions. Find a grocer near you that carries Certified Humane meat. You can also consider a heritage turkey, or choose from a variety of sustainable fish.


Consider replacing your traditional meat dish with creative, vegetarian alternatives. The New York Times recently published its annual roundup of tasty vegetarian fare for Thanksgiving. Also, find fabulous Tofurky recipes courtesy of Farm Sanctuary (Turkey rescue). See what a vegan holiday menu looks like, courtesy of Robin Robertson — one of America’s bestselling vegetarian cookbook authors. Yum!


Overly processed and packaged foods take a lot of energy to produce. Choose foods with eco-friendly packaging such as recyclable or compostable packaging or buy items from the bulk food bins. Get in the habit of bringing your own reusable produce and shopping bags to the store. When done eating and cooking, recycle packaging as best you can.


Did you know that nearly half of all food in the United States is thrown away before it is consumed? The way we produce, use, and waste food creates nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions. Per-capita food waste has grown by about 50 percent since 1974, and yet there are 50 million people in the United States who don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis. So this holiday season, get in the habit of buying only what you plan to eat. Check out this great Thanksgiving Food Planning Calculator to help you plan exactly how much food you need to buy.  Make a plan for the leftovers! Organize a potluck with your congregation on Thanksgiving weekend, or deliver leftovers to a local soup kitchen. Learn how to waste less food.

Thank you for making connection between food, faith, and global warming.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!