Giving Thanks to Planet Earth

If carnivorous gluttony, sports marathons and planning for Black Friday are still in your lifestyle’s repertoire, then as a species we are surely doomed. The way we Americans spend this day and our year end ‘holidays’ is actually the antithesis of sustainable living.

Let me dish out the carbon footprint guilt:

  1. Your Thanksgiving feast (Turkey, cranberries, vegetables, pie and wine) will produce approximately 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
  2. A 160-pound person would have to walk 30 miles just to burn 3000 calories of that holiday repast.
  3. According to the EPA, the period from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent in the US. That amounts to an extra 5 million tons of household waste each year.
  4. Shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons create an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.
  5. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, the passenger vehicles shuttling holiday travelers will travel 980 million miles, burn 40.8 million gallons of gasoline, require $132.6 million to $138.7 million for fuel, and emit more than 362,000 metric tons of CO2.

However you spend your Thanksgiving or Unthanksgiving, I ask that you think about using our planet’s remaining resources wisely.

First “Unthanksgiving” at Alcatraz 1969 via IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork

Going Native: My Sustainable Un-Thanksgiving (Week #45) (2015)

A TerraBlu Thanksgiving (2011)


This Is Your Thanksgiving on Climate Change: How will your Turkey Day staples fare in a warming world?

Thanksgiving dinner’s carbon footprint, (Chicago Tribune)

The environmental costs of a Thanksgiving meal; ‘food miles’ and other damage (Washington Post)

The Environmental Working Group Report

The Environmental Toll of Thanksgiving

Seven Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Greener

A Terrablu Thanksgiving

A Terrablu Thanksgiving

Written by Vera Struck

The way we North American’s celebrate this day is actually the antithesis of sustainable development. This holiday tradition is reeking with gastronomical gluttony, too many sports TV marathons and the beginning of the holiday season “sale” specials enticing us to over consume. The average American consumes 4800 calories that day. A 160-pound person would have to walk 30 miles just to burn 3000 calories of that holiday repast.

The origins of the Thanksgiving were far more interesting and sustainable. It is our nation’s nod to the Native Americans providing the struggling Pilgrims with a bountiful Fall Harvest feast. A meal amongst friends provides nourishment for the body and soul.

I ask you this year to honor our earth and each other and consider changing this behavior and developing a new Terrablu tradition. Learn about the quadruple bottom line; eat less, eat local varieties, cook your own, give, share more and feel absolutely great!

  1. You could even try this fabulous Vegeterian Thanksgiving Menu .  And some of the NYTimes food writer, Mark Bittman’s salads like I did last year. My favorites: a tie between the apple slaw and dried cranberry couscous with pecans. Okay, that might have been going a bit too far for you carnivores. You could buy local; an organic turkey through Local Harvest. Better yet, go seek out a local farmer and introduce yourself to your new supplier and support your own community. Don’t forget to compost your scraps or use them for soup stock.
  2. Decorate your table with beeswax candles instead of petroleum based candles (Less unhealthy emissions and they smell better too!). Bring in interesting leaves, leftover pumpkins, gourds, pine branches or holiday fruit from your own garden or community.
  3. For dessert, serve a homemade pie from the fruit you purchased at the local farm stand. Make one or two extra and donate to a local shelter or a family in need.
  4. Serve a Thanksgiving coffee (not just a cup of coffee, but a just cup)
  5. Instead of eating solo or even if you have a table, add an extra chair or two for someone not as lucky and spread the cheer around.
  6. Why not take a break before you get up and turn on the TV, take a walk, connect with nature. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and take a moment to reflect on and celebrate this turning planet that sustains all of our lives.

However you choose to be thankful and celebrate, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  ¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! Ringraziamento felice! Ευτυχής ημέρα των ευχαριστιών

Let us know in your comments if you have a sustainable practice you would like to share.

Please Note: Our blog postings will be changing from Saturdays to every Sunday starting next Sunday (and will be posted at midnight the night before) so you can get used to the schedule before we start the Terrablu Sustainable Year 2012 of 52 weeks of Sustainable best practice exercises for you, your family and community.