The holidays pose more than a few dilemmas for renters with a knack for eco-conscious living. From food prep to waste disposal, pursuing earth-friendly alternatives can be a challenge if you don’t know where to start. Let this guide point you in the right direction.
Disposable products always raise a few eyebrows. It’s hard to think of a material that’s easily renewable, durable, biodegradable and affordable in bulk for parties. When it comes to plates and napkins, consider palm leaf products. They are reusable but if you don’t need them again they are biodegradable and compostable, so you can use them to compost at your apartment. Green Planet distributes palm leaf products for parties. Their popular package accommodates groups of 25 with plates, napkins, and silverware. You can also check out EcoPalm sets, which are higher quality (perfect if you want to reuse them at least a few times) and come in smaller quantities. Large parties can check out EcoPlate Catering Supply for bamboo plates and serving ware.
In my opinion, the greenest Thanksgivings are vegan since animal farms and processing wreck havoc on the environment—but I know that’s simply not going to happen for most people. Consider these earth-friendlier alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving fare.
Free Range- If you plan to have turkey, ham, beef, and egg products opt for free range and cage free varieties. Technically, the labels simply mean that the animals weren’t trapped in inhumane conditions most of their lives. Rather, they roamed as they normally would. Free range products have substantial health benefits such as leaner, higher quality meat since the animals receive more exercise and are under less stress.
Organic- Organic products are often raised without the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, growth stimulants and other potentially harmful components. While enjoying a completely organic diet is a wonderful idea, it can be costly for those who are not accustomed to finding the best deals (or growing their own produce). Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list, products that are best purchased organic and those you can safely buy using conventional methods.
Fair Trade- Though not tied to the environment, fair trade products are the ethical alternatives to traditional middleman trading models. Per the website, “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.” Common fair trade items include coffees, teas, chocolates, and art originating from marginalized societies.
Do the environment a favor and throw away as little food as possible! Plan ahead by taking into consideration the number of guests and the type of food served. To make it easier, there are useful online tools such as Personal Creations’ Thanksgiving Food Planning Calculator that can help you prepare your waste-free feast.
It’s common (and easiest) to simply set one, large trash can in a central location and let guests dispose of everything there. Trouble is, recyclable items may also get tossed into the trash. Consider having at least two bins for guests that are different colors (or bags that are different colors) designating one for trash and the other for recyclables.
Unless you have a large quantity of guests who are familiar with composting methods, avoid directing guests towards the compost bin. Odds are, hazardous items may be place into the mixture, ruining the batch.