3 Simple Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

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outdoor dining table

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when people gather to give thanks for the friends and loved ones they have in their lives, the opportunities to which they have been presented, and the bounties of the previous year’s harvest. While many people take giving thanks to heart on this national holiday, its origin and the true intention behind Thanksgiving can sometimes be lost when commercialism comes into play.

So, this year–when Thanksgiving comes around–give thanks through your actions, as well as your words. Green up your Thanksgiving. Show a little extra gratitude for all this Earth and Mother Nature has provided. Thanksgiving isn’t all about what you buy, how much food you have on your table, or the opulence of your celebration. In some instances, less can be more. Put what you have been given to good use. Then, without going too extreme, green your Thanksgiving by following these three simple steps:

food waste

1. Minimize Food Waste

Regardless of how much you may want to provide a cornucopia of food for your guests this Thanksgiving, minimizing food waste starts with buying less. Be smart about your grocery shopping. Know how many guests you’ll have and buy only enough food to satisfy their tastes and nothing more. You don’t want food to go to waste.

If you do end up with food leftover, put it in storage containers and save it for later when you want a snack or need a last-minute meal. You can also send food home with guests. In my experience, guests are happy to take home food, particularly if it was a dish they loved.

Another option is to donate food to those less fortunate than you. Most communities have shelters and other groups that help those a little down on their luck. A home-cooked meal could be just what someone needs this Thanksgiving. I’m sure you can find recipients for a few random acts of kindness like this on and around Thanksgiving.

Last, but not least, is to compost any remaining food. This includes food scraps left over during the preparation stages, as well as any uneaten food once your meal is over. If you don’t have a compost bin already, treehugger.com has a few ideas for DIY compost bins you may want to check out.

Thanksgiving table setting

2. Opt for Reusable

For Thanksgiving, remember to bring out the china, “good” dinnerware or find other reusable options. Despite the seeming convenience, when you don’t have to throw away paper plates, plastic utensils and Styrofoam cups, you’ll have less trash. You will also minimize your carbon footprint and have less of a negative impact on the environment. No need to fill up a landfill.

When I was growing up, no matter how much I tried to get out of it, washing dishes after our Thanksgiving meal offered me some quality time with family and friends. We’d laugh, we’d talk and we’d wash dishes. Then we’d put the dishes away for use later. Why not do the same in your house?

natural decorations

3. Bring Nature Into Your Home

Pine cones, leaves, branches and other natural items can make very colorful and decorative centerpieces. Want your house to smell like Thanksgiving or the holidays? Cook, bake, or even just simmer some key, natural ingredients. Instead of spraying chemicals and toxins throughout your home to give it a “fresh” scent, create your scent of choice naturally. Start by opening your windows to let out some of the indoor air pollution that’s been gathering in your house. Then, add your scent of choice–such as baked goods or organic cinnamon/orange–and sit back, relax and enjoy all the holidays have to offer.

Better yet, if the weather cooperates, why not have your Thanksgiving dinner outdoors surrounded by nature?

Keep this in mind too:

So much to be thankful for

Cornucopia image by Ron Cogswell, outdoor dining table image by Aurelien Breeden, food waste image by jbloom, table setting image by Didriks, natural decoration image by StarMama, and so much to be thankful for image by Blanca Stella Mejia via Flickr Creative Commons license.

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