10 Tips for a Green Thanksgiving

    One of my very favorite holidays is almost here.  

     I love Thanksgiving.   There’s no stress of shopping for gifts, just the pleasure of feeling thankful for the gifts I already have.  And the joy of sharing the same meal I eat every Thanksgiving Day with people I love.  

    I just read that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s accounts for 25% of the waste the typical American household generates in an entire year. So I went online and found some pretty easy tips for making Thanksgiving greener and less wasteful.  

Here are 10 suggestions for making your Thanksgiving more earth-friendly this year:

1)  When you go shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner ingredients, remember to bring along some canvas bags, so you don’t have to accumulate yet more plastic bags.  And if you don’t have reusable bags to bring, just grab some of those plastic bags that have been piling up at home, and reuse them.  Either way, you won’t be fueling the production of still more plastic bags that are so environmentally unfriendly.

2)  Buy local.  This is always a good idea, but the website DoSomething.org estimates that each ingredient in the average Thanksgiving dinner travels 1500 miles to your table.  Buying local has so many benefits–fresher, tastier food, a boost for local farmers and your local economy, and a reduced carbon footprint.  So, to the extent that you can, patronize farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture when you shop for Thanksgiving dinner.

3)  Buy organic.  Organic food is better for your health because you can avoid hormones, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.  And of course these substances also harm our rivers and streams and the fish and other wildlife that live in them.  But since organic food costs more than ‘regular’ grocery store fare, you may want to focus your organic buying on certain foods.   Full-fat dairy products, beef, chicken, eggs, leafy greens, berries, and apples are the foods most heavily treated with pesticides, so they are the ones where the organic alternative makes most sense. 

4)  Try to minimize your travel.  If your loved ones live nearby, you’re fortunate.  If you must travel, driving will yield a lower carbon footprint than air travel.  But if you have to fly, you may want to look into countering the tons of carbon your flight will emit by purchasing carbon offsets.  You can learn more about them by clicking here:  http://www.carbonneutral.com/knowledge-centre/offsetting-explained/

5)  Go natural when it comes to decorating your Thanksgiving table.  No need to shop for an expensive centerpiece.  Pine cones, autumn leaves, and some shapely branches, arranged attractively, can make a lovely, seasonal centerpiece.

6)  After the meal is over, and the leftovers have been put into containers, refrain from putting them into the refrigerator until they are no longer warm.  Your refrigerator will use more energy cooling warm or hot foods than foods that are at room temperature.  But don’t leave food out longer than necessary;  you don’t want it to spoil.

7)  Compost the dinner waste.  All plant remains–peels and such–can readily be composted.

8)  Recycle glass bottles and jars used for your Thanksgiving meal, as well as paper and cardboard packaging, and tin and aluminum cans.

9)  Skip Black Friday.  After all, isn’t staying home and enjoying your family more pleasant than navigating throngs of shoppers and using gas?  

10)  If you’re looking for a fun family activity for Thanksgiving weekend, consider planting a tree.  Digging a hole and planting a tree is good exercise and a fun group project.  Besides, the average tree absorbs 26 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and during that time also returns enough oxygen to supply a family of four.



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