How to have a green Thanksgiving

Adriene Hill Nov 20, 2010

How to have a green Thanksgiving

Adriene Hill Nov 20, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: Grocery stores will be packed this weekend, as people grab up Thanksgiving fixings. What does all that eating, traveling and family visiting mean for the environment?

We’ve called on Marketplace Sustainability reporter Adriene Hill to help us out. Good morning Adriene.

Adriene Hill: Good morning, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So a big green thumbs up or green thumbs down on Thanksgiving?

HILL: You know, it would be super easy to apply the whole bummer environmental vibe to yet another American tradition.

CHIOTAKIS: Like a Debbie Downer.

HILL: But it’s no fun. I don’t want to be that reporter. Yes, the best thing you can do on Thanksgiving is to sit at home, alone in the dark, without any heat, don’t eat anything — you’ll save a ton of carbon that way. But I really like Thanksgiving. So instead I want to focus on how you can make the holiday more environmentally-friendly.


HILL: One of the most significant environmental impacts is all the travel. A lot of us — myself included — are going to go to airport and fly long distances to be with people we care about. And there’s not much you can do to make that flying much more efficient. But when you are packed into the middle seat and jammed up with no legroom and a crying baby on one side, just know that your flight’s very efficient when it’s all packed full like that. And feel a little better about it.

CHIOTAKIS: A full flight is better than an empty one?

HILL: It is. If you’re driving, it would help to get your car tuned up and your tire pressure checked before you go. That’ll save on gas costs. And you might consider carpooling with dear Aunt Mildred.

CHIOTAKIS: Aw, Aunt Mildred, she’s nice. What about the Thanksgiving meal?

HILL: Well turkey in the scheme of things is not a bad choice; it takes a lot less fuel to make a turkey than a lamb or a cow. So keep the turkey and maybe ditch the roast beef. Of course, if you’re that kind of guy, Steve, you could consider a veggie holiday. If you’re really serious about reducing your environmental impact.

CHIOTAKIS: No, no. I’m just going to feel good about not eating beef, how about that?

HILL: Fair enough. There’s another way to make the holiday more sustainable without abandoning your family or your traditions.

CHIOTAKIS: What’s that?

HILL: Just don’t waste as much food. Cook fewer pies, or better yet, invite more people over to eat them. Over the course of the year, Americans throw out about a quarter of their food. They’re wasting all the energy it takes to make and cook that food. By wasting less food, you’ll waste less energy. And then you’ll get to eat all those delicious leftovers.

CHIOTAKIS: Yeah, the leftovers, I love that. Mm! Thanks Adriene.

HILL: Thanks Steve.

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