Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and tradition. If you’d like to introduce some new, eco-friendly customs this holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to go green while celebrating one of the biggest events of the year. Here are some simple ideas to reduce waste and save a little money – all while showing your gratitude to Mother Earth:
Reduce and Use Leftovers
According to U.S. News & World Report, families waste nearly 25 percent of all food prepared on Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of good food ending up in the trash. When planning your meal, consider cutting out those dishes you feel you have to serve but that no one eats. For example, if you consistently toss the cranberry sauce each year, leave it off the menu. This will save you time and money, and eliminate waste. Plan to reuse leftovers throughout the week in turkey sandwiches or stew.
Research if local food banks will accept donations. Not only will donating food help those in need, but the practice will also teach your family about the value of giving.
Your local farmer’s market can be a great place to purchase seasonal, local produce and meat. Not only will you be supporting local farms and businesses, but you can also feel good about serving your family organic veggies, pasture-raised turkey and other fresh dishes. If you don’t have a local source for meat, consider throwing an all-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, serving vegetable and fruit dishes or a “turkey” composed primarily of tofu.
This healthy alternative is also eco-friendly, as meat production is a major contributor to deforestation, water depletion and greenhouse gas emissions around the world.
And don’t limit your purchases to strictly produce. Think outside of the box and consider making a switch to custom furniture for a smaller carbon footprint and better quality product.
Big family dinners often mean lots of cars in the driveway. Reduce carbon emissions by carpooling to your destination with other family members who live nearby or en route. Or, better yet, save money on gas and tolls by taking a bus, subway, or other form of public transportation. If you’re the one hosting the event, encourage your guests to carpool by assisting with the travel arrangements or include bus and train information in your invitations.
Skip the Disposable Plates and Silverware
While it can be tempting to simplify cleanup by serving food on paper or plastic plates, reusable dishes and cutlery are a much more sustainable option. In addition to adding an elegant touch to your table, real dishware saves you money and keeps waste out of the landfills. Along these lines, package leftovers in Tupperware instead of plastic wrap and make sure to recycle any cans and bottles used in preparation of the meal.
Run Your Dishwasher Efficiently
After the pumpkin pie has been served, it’s finally time to wash all those dirty plates and glasses. Use your dishwasher with care. Make sure the dishwasher is completely full each time you run it. Use any energy-efficient settings available and consider stopping the dishwasher after the wash cycle and letting your dishes air-dry instead.
Go for “Mood Lighting”
Turn down the lights for an intimate ambiance – or, better yet, use candles to set the mood. Votive candles in glass bowls make for tasteful centerpieces, adding a decorative element while reducing your need for artificial lights. Remember to turn off the lights in rooms that guests are not using to save electricity. Consider nightlights or candles to illuminate dark hallways instead of overhead lighting.
Bring a touch of nature into your home by decorating with elements from the great outdoors. Kids will have a blast gathering colorful leaves, pinecones and acorns which you can place in glass bowls or sprinkle gingerly around candles or centerpieces. These do-it-yourself decorations will save you money while subtly reminding guests that nature is all around them—and is something to be thankful for on this special day.
Whether you are looking to save money or introduce your family to the idea of sustainability, Thanksgiving is a great time of year to go green. By adding just a few green practices to your family’s celebration, you can enjoy your festivities while giving a little something back to Earth. Now that’s something to be thankful for.
Written by Jesse Aaron. Jesse is a professional blogger who specializes in social media marketing. He enjoys shopping for mustangs parts on CJ Pony Parts in his spare time.