Published: Nov. 18, 2019 By



Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for MENVers, Friday the 22nd is the last day of classes before a week-long break. Which means that now’s the time that people are starting to get excited about the prospect of seven uninterrupted days of relaxation (but for homework!); traveling back home to see friends, family, and loved ones who have been much-missed for the past few months; and eating to the point of being uncomfortably full, of course.

Unfortunately, as great as the holidays are, they’re also a time of excessive waste. In fact, Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving to New Year’s! Whether you’re going or staying for the holiday, are a vegan, a vegetarian, a meat-eater, or an opportunivore, the holiday presents an opportunity to think about sustainability and conscious action. Here are some tips for celebrating the holiday in a way that’s as eco-friendly as possible:


CarpoolingFor many, Thanksgiving means traveling. Note that a single flight from the West to the East Coast of the United States emits at least one metric ton of carbon dioxide. If feasible, consider driving rather than flying home this holiday. Even better: consider carpooling if you and another student are from the same place!

If flying is your only option, you can still be conscious about your transportation when you reach your destination. Carpooling, using public transportation, and biking are all great options. And there is a direct bus route from Boulder to Denver International Airport (and free with your CU bus pass!).



Plan the Menu WiselyFood

Whether you’re hosting or attending, if you’re contributing food this Thanksgiving, plan wisely. A very relevant article written by MENV Sustainable Food Systems’ specialization lead, Nicole Civita, recommends nixing dishes that you make just out of habit but no one eats, easing up on the appetizers, making a lighter soup option so that guests won’t get too full too fast, and being okay with (gasp!) ditching the turkey. If you are planning on serving fowl (or meat of any source), consider sourcing it from a local farm, especially one that’s utilizing regenerative agriculture practices, if feasible.


Don’t Let Excess Food Go to Waste!

LeftoversWe all know that food waste statistics are alarming. Indeed, food waste in the United States is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the total food supply. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is a holiday that often results in excess production, consumption, and food finding its way into the trash. Fortunately, there are some easy fixes!

First, go back to menu planning. Know how many people you’re cooking for/how many people will be attending and be conscious of how much food you’ll actually need.

Next, save leftovers! If you want to be extra sustainable, consider reusable storage containers rather than plastic wrap/plastic bags for storage. Then, make a commitment to actually eat the leftovers rather than letting them spoil in your fridge. Encourage guests to take home leftovers, too.

If you do prepare a turkey, note that you can use the carcass and bones afterward to make a delicious, collagen-rich broth.

It’s a Time to Be Thankful

Regardless of Thanksgiving’s history, there’s an opportune moment for reflection about thankfulness. Bring a sense of gratitude to your Thanksgiving meal and thank the earth for all it provides!

**The MENV Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative is hosting a 2019 Thanksgiving Food Drive. All proceeds will be donated to the Boulder Community Food Share during the week of Thanksgiving. Please drop off any donations in the lounge. All non-perishable food items are welcome; please prioritize healthy food items if you have the means.