By Emmeline Ensign
Thanksgiving is a great holiday—its all about giving thanks and spending time with friends, family, and, of course, delicious food! It’s the beginning of the winter holiday season. However, during this holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years, Americans produce 25% more waste. That’s 25 million tons of trash!
If you want to have a more environmentally sustainable holiday season, start with these 5 easy ways to make your Thanksgiving greener:
1. Bring out the Classy dishes and napkins
Not only do cloth napkins and real plates look fancy and festive, they are much better for the environment. This can also be applied to the clean up after dinner. Instead of wiping up spilled cranberry sauce with a paper towel, use a wet rag that can be washed.
2. Cook with Organic foods
Locally grown organic foods are much better for the environment. The farming of organic foods produces less carbon emissions.
If you do cook anything from a can, be sure to recycle the can. Not only will this destroy the evidence so that you can say you made the dish from scratch, but recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours!
3. Compost leftovers
When the food looks so good sometimes your eyes get bigger than your stomach and you end up food left on your plate that you just can’t eat. Instead of scraping your scraps into a trash can, scrape them into a compost bin.
*Setting your plate on the ground for your dog to lick clean is also an environmentally friendly option!
4. Use Reusable Tupperware
After the big meal is over, there are often lots of leftovers. You may be eating turkey sandwiches for a week! But, an enormous amount of waste is created by plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or plastic bags that are thrown away later. Instead, take home or store your leftovers in washable Tupperware containers.
5. Spread the word
As much as you may want to have a completely environmentally sustainable Thanksgiving—it isn’t always completely in your control. Maybe, you aren’t the one putting together the Thanksgiving festivities or preparing the meal. It would be a little awkward to tell Aunt Sally that you wish the green beans in the casserole she slaved over were organic.
But, there’s still a lot you can do to help the cause of sustainability. All of you family and friends are gathered together in one place for food and conversation. Take this opportunity to tell them a few things you know about sustainability and the environment. Drop some knowledge that will hopefully inspire your relatives into making some changes for Christmas celebrations!
Immediately after Thanksgiving the next big thing is Black Friday shopping. There are some crazy good deals. But, if you want to continue your support of sustainability after Thanksgiving, spend your money on brands that are environmentally conscious.
Emmeline Ensign is a freshmen studying marketing and international business and joined Net Impact this fall. This is her first post as a member of the Net Impact Blogging Team.
On Monday, November 9th, we held our first ever Net Impact debate called The Great Paper Debate! We had a lot of fun arguing over whether paper is a good thing or not. As you might be able to tell from the pictures above, I live tweeted the debate on our Twitter account: @netimpactiu. So, in order to give you a recap some of the main arguments from the debate (not all of which turned out to be true), I give you our tweets!
On Saturday November 7th, Net Impact continued its partnership with IU Athletics to bring you the Zero Waste Stations at the IU home football games. Even through the football team continues to struggle, we had a great time helping fans create a more sustainable environment by helping them sort their waste!
As a reminder, all Net Impacters must complete at least one Greening Cream and Crimson volunteer shift this semester in order to remain active members. So if you have yet to participate, this Saturday, November 14th, is the last home football game of the year, so sign up fast! Even if you've already participated once, this is a great way to get involved with Net Impact and help improve our community, so we encourage you all to sign up! In the meantime, take a look at these beautiful pictures from the last game above, courtesy of Victor Gan.
Net Impact held a General Attendance Meeting on Monday November 2nd to kick off the month. We began by going over some of our events from the previous weeks, including our Potted Plants Sale. The Potted Plants Sale was a huge success with over $150 raised for the Center for Sustainable Living! Great job, Net Impacters!
For the remainder of the meeting, we divided the room into halves and began preparing for the Great Paper Debate! One side had to research ways in which paper hurts the environment while the other side researched why paper could be a good thing for the environment. We had a lot of fun researching and hope you did as well!
On October 26th, Net Impact took a tour of the new Cyberinfrastructure building on campus! The CIB is the most environmentally-friendly building on campus with goals of reducing energy use by 28% and water use by 40% in order to reduce the university's carbon footprint.
The building itself has many features that encourage sustainability. Out in the parking lot, there are preferred parking spots for carpoolers and fuel-efficient vehicles. Gutters on the rooftop transport water to the gardens around the building. The roof also features solar water panels that heat all of the water for the kitchens and bathrooms. Automatic faucets and pint urinals also help the building reduce water by 40%. The University also saved the chiller unit from the previous IT building in order to save on costs. And as you can see in the pictures above, the building has a cool look with tons of windows for lighting.
Net Impact participated in the very first annual Social Impact Summit on Friday, October 23! This event was hosted by all of the organizations in the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, including Net Impact. Those in attendance got the opportunity to network with other students and professionals who are passionate about social responsibility. A presentation was also given by author Rania Anderson, detailing the success of women in business and in especially in emerging markets. Net Impacters in attendance also got to brainstorm ways to help solve the challenges the IU Athletics Office faces in the area of sustainability!
As you can see from the pictures above, we had a great turnout from Net Impact, from our Co-Presidents to our general members! It never hurts to have free food, but events like this help make Kelley a more sustainable school and help Net Impact engage with all of the other socially responsible organizations in the Kelley Institute for Social Impact. So thanks to all of the Net Impacters who helped make this event a success and we encourage you to continue getting involved in Net Impact!
On Monday October 19, we received a visit from Greg Spratt, the Chief Sustainability Officer for Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. Mr. Spratt started off his presentation by talking about what he loves most about working for Eli Lilly, which is what they do. Lilly's help in combating diseases like polio, diabetes, and Alzheimer's along with the quality of the people who work for the company helps make Mr. Spratt passionate about going to work everyday.
Mr. Spratt then went into Lilly's efforts to be socially responsible. Their first focus is to improve global health by focusing on developing countries and implementing patient programs that help increase the amount of people who have access to healthcare. Lilly's second focus is to help communities through philanthropy. One of their most notable philanthropic endeavors is the Lilly Day of Service in which employees get the opportunity to paint, plant trees, and pick up litter. They even planted along Interstate 70 this year. The third focus of Eli Lilly in achieving corporate social responsibility is through their operations. Lilly prides itself in the diversity of its hiring practices and is one of the top companies for women and mothers in particular to work for.
Next, Mr. Spratt discussed Lilly's efforts to improve the environment. He used an recent example from the company's headquarters to illustrate this. Mr. Spratt noticed that the trash cans in the cubicles of Lilly's employees were only 10% full every time they were changed and more than 50% off the trash in those bags was recyclable. So, Mr. Spratt decided to take away all personal trash cans from employees' cubicles. Employees did not take too kindly to this and at one point even piled trash on Mr. Spratt's chair. However, employees eventually got adjusted to the change and it ended up saving the company a lot of money in addition to reducing waste.
Finally, Mr. Spratt concluded by talking about the Lilly Corporate Responsibility Report. Lilly started investing in sustainability in 2006 and met all of its goals to reduce its carbon footprint. Now, the company has set even more ambitious goals for 2020 which include: a 20% increase in energy efficiency, a 20% reduction in waste produced, and a 15% decrease in phosphorous emissions. If Eli Lilly can meet these goals, hopefully other companies in the industry will take notice and make a real effort to be socially responsible.