Quick Tips for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

Personally, I prefer to call the traditional fall meal a Harvest Feast. There is so much controversy surrounding the history of the “First Thanksgiving” as I was taught in American Schools. In Canada, there seems to be an emphasis placed on the First Nations People and their giving of thanks for the harvest that will see them through the winter months.
I thought I would share some ways that you can shift your get together towards being a more zero waste Thanksgiving celebration.

Zero Waste Thanksgiving TIps

Did you know that in the US the following is wasted each year just from a typical Thanksgiving meal.

  • 172 million pounds of turkey
  • 14 million pounds of dinner rolls
  • 29 million pounds of vegetable sides
  • 30 million pounds of gravy
  • 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes
  • 38 million pounds of stuffing

Plan ahead for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving Meal

Food waste, if it were to be measured as a country, would be the world’s third largest country of green house gas emissions. Planning ahead for the amount of people and their dietary preferences is always a good idea. Don’t assume that everyone is going to take home left overs, or that they will enjoy the way you prepare the food. If they take the food home out of courtesy it may be zero waste for you, but if they end up tossing it, it is still waste.

BUY LOCAL!
When you are shopping, choose items with the last packaging and don’t forget your reusable bags!

Host a “Pot Luck Style” Thanksgiving dinner for less waste

To make this one work, make sure to keep track of who is bringing what. Having some sort of sign up would be optimal. Reasons why this style works is that it takes some of the stress of cooking and storing food from the host. You can ensure that people will cook things the way they enjoy it and there will be less that goes to waste. This can also be a fun way to explore zero waste Thanksgiving get together as you can pick different types of cuisines. I am not aware of any rule that says you have to have the traditional turkey and sides.

Growing up, my Dad’s side of the family used this style. My Grama would make the turkey and some of the side dishes. My Aunts would bring other dishes and deserts.

Zero Waste Ideas for Thanksgiving Left Overs

If you do have left overs, you can keep a stash of containers for people to take food home in. I keep and reuse almost everything, so I am usually the one who shows up to family meals with containers for everyone to take stuff home in. If you brought a dish, you can take home left overs in it. If you’re feeling brave enough, ask everyone to bring their own containers if they want left overs to take home.

Get creative. Stay away from the traditional plastic cling wrap and you’re on your way to a zero waste Thanksgiving Day.

What doesn’t get eaten, compost!

Zero Waste Thanksgiving Decor

It’s fall!
You can keep your decor simple, yet elegant, by working in natural items.
Get creative and create a nature inspired look.
When you’re through, the natural items can be added to your compost.


Obvious Zero Waste Thanksgiving Choices

Skip the disposable plates and cutlery.
If you’re short on dishes or flatware, ask some friends or family if they have anything you can borrow to avoid needlessly buying more. If you will be using them in them in the future and can justify the need, check out thrift stores for pieces that go with what you have.

Use cloth napkins.

If disposable items are absolutely needed, opt for something compost-able.

Why should we strive towards a zero waste lifestyle? Read this post to find out more.

St Jean Baptiste – Fête Nationale … What is it?

st jean baptiste day

Growing up, the only thing I knew about St. Jean Baptiste Day was that it meant the school year was over. I never remember learning about it in school, and I moved to the USA when I was in eight grade. I could tell you almost anything you wanted to know about North Carolina and American history though. I often wondered if I wasn’t as aware of the holiday as I should be a younger child because I grew up in an anglophone and protestant town.
Asking my mother, who is French Canadian, gave me the answer … “It’s Québec’s birthday”.
Okay, but why the Saint?
I thought Québec and Canada were proud of their secularism?! Was that the day that Québec was founded? I was the kind of kid who wanted to know more.

The History Behind Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

Held yearly on June 24th, Saint Jean Baptiste Day is now known in Québec as la Fête Nationale du Québec. It has been a statutory holiday in Québec since 1925, although it had been celebrated in North America since the early days of New France.
Originally, it was celebrated as a religious holiday.
It coincides with the summer solstice. Pagans would light fires to commemorate the longest day of the year. In typical early Christian fashion, they took over the celebration and re-branded it, associating it with St John the Baptist.

In Québec as early as 1843, it started as a religiously led political celebration. There would be a mass, a banquet and a parade led by member of Saint Jean Baptiste Societies. It evolved over time to include other cultural organizations, students and professional orders. The last float would usually have a curly headed young child representing St John, and children dressed up as Jacques Cartier and an aboriginal person. Over time, more people from early French Canadian history were added.
In 1908, Saint John the Baptist was named the patron saint of Québec.

During the 1960s and 70s Québec started to move away from the relgious aspect of the holiday and began to focus on the arts and culture. The name was actually changed to la Fête Nationale du Québec in 1977 to remove the religious connotations.

quebec flag
Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste © Morgan/ Flickr

These days (well maybe not this year, thanks COVID 19) la Fête Nationale is still sometimes called La Saint Jean and is a day for proudly displaying the blue-and-white fleur-de-lys flag. Celebrations include parades, festivals, outdoor concerts, parties, and fireworks. It marks the beginning of the summer season with the end of school, camping trips and get togethers.

So now I know, if my kids ever ask, I can give them more of a background on the holiday. Google Calendar calls it St. Jean Baptiste.

history of st jean baptiste day