Another year has gone by, and it is time to sit back, reflect, and give thanks. I’m sure at the top of your thankful list is family, friends, your great government job, and the food on your table. However, why not give thanks to the planet that makes all these things possible? I suggest we all go green on Thanksgiving…not just this year, but from here on out! So here it is, my tips on greening your Thanksgiving:
Traveling? Combine trips for ffood and holiday shopping to save gas and energy. To get to your Thanksgiving destination, the ggreenest option is to not travel. However, we all know that this holiday is all about family, friends (and football). Some suggestions are that if possible; why not share the trip with others? Share the ride with others on a train or bus. Making a solo trip in your car? Craigslist is an option to find people offering, and in need of, rides. Traveling on the open road is better if shared anyways. If you’re going to be driving, why not rent a Prius? Plan ahead for the journey. I suggest bringing a reusable water bottle and/or a coffee mug. Much better choice to buying single-use bottles and paper coffee cups which will only end up in a landfill.
Entertaining? Decorate your Thanksgiving table in a greener fashion. Decorate your table and home with items which may be used again next year, or make decorations from edibles such as fruit and clovesInstead of those petroleum-based candles, opt for beeswax candles which are natural, renewable, and some say they help clean your home’s air of allergens. Then, there are also soy candles which you may consider.
We all like quick and easy, but consider avoiding disposable plastic plates and cutlery. I say use real silverware. Yes, clean-up is a chore, but the perfect opportunity to get to know your sister’s fiancé as you pass him dishes to dry. If I haven’t convinced you to stay away from the disposable table setting, at least opt for compostable and/or biodegradable products. One important note regarding the bio-compostable wares – you must actually compost it. It is not going to break down in a landfill.
The Menu. It’s all about being organic. However, I completely understanding that hosting a dinner for 12 could empty your piggybank. So, maybe you won’t opt for the organic bird, but consider organic vegetables and fruits, because otherwise, produce items will still have high pesticide and herbicide content, even after you wash them.
When it comes to baking, bake your pies and dishes in reusable pans not disposable aluminum. If possible, consider cooking a few items in the oven at once to save energy and time. When you finish with the oven, turn it off, and keep the oven door open for a little extra heat in the house.
Have a cooler with drinks for a large gathering-opening and closing the refrigerator lets the cold air out and uses more energy. Speaking of drinks, there are plenty of options for beverages as well. Consider buying organic or biodynamic wine (hint: Trader Joe’s has affordably-priced organic wine). You’ll probably also want some coffee with that pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie, right? Choose beans that have the fair-trade sticker on them to ensure the coffee you drink was produced under fair and sustainable conditions, and bought at a fair price.
Cleaning up. First, don’t pour your turkey grease down the kitchen pipes! Pouring the grease down the drain clogs the pipes, and also causes wastewater blockages and overflows in municipalities. Instead, why not recycle them? This way they may be converted into clean-burning biodiesel fuel easily and cheaply. Many cities are offering such services, and there’s no reason not to!
As far as recycling goes, have a designated Recycle Bin for guests. Also a good idea is to buy in bulk – use large soda containers instead of many small cans. You can recycle food as well, so don’t throw away food left on the plate – compost it! Many stores sell small counter-top composting containers, and cities offer free of charge composting bins, or curbside compost pickup. If you have a backyard, it’s easy to make your own compost pile. Did you know that landfills are so tightly packed that the food doesn’t get the oxygen, light, or microorganisms it needs to biodegrade?
When cleaning up the kitchen, use all natural earth-friendly cleansers like vinegar and baking soda. If you prefer pre-made cleansers, there’s a couple of cleaning products to consider – Method cleaning products are affordable, and Mrs. Meyers are aroma therapeutic.
If you have a dishwasher, use it! It actually uses less water when you run a dishwasher in comparison to hand washing. That also means the cost is less when your water bill comes due, and saves you some time for visiting with family and friends. Run your dishwasher during off-peak electricity times, and opt for the air-dry option if you have it. If you have a dishwasher model 1994 or later, you shouldn’t need to pre-rinse as they should have the power to handle food residue.
The End of the Day. Turn all lights out before going to bed. Plus, don’t forget that if an appliance is plugged in, even if it is switched off, it continues to draw power. Smart strips prevent this (you might consider the investment), so in the meantime, unplug all appliances!
Inspiration for the rest of the year – 42 ways you can help the planet