Green Thanksgiving Tips
Thanksgiving day is coming up before you know it and with it comes friends, family, and food. It’s one of the holidays that Americans loosen up the belt to cram a piece of every last dish on the dinner table. Even after shoving all that food in your face, the sad fact is that Americans waste about 25 percent of all Thanksgiving food prepared. It really is a tragedy to waste food when it could go to those who are more needy. Here are my top ten tips for a green Thanksgiving:
Buy Local and Seasonal
Farmers Markets have exploded to nearly every part of the country in the past ten years. That means you have no excuse, support your local farmers and keep your money in the local economy. Since organic produce often costs more, buy organic for produce that is known to have more pesticide residue. According to the Environmental Working Group list of dirty dozen for 2011, apples have the most pesticide residue followed by celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale. Make sure you get those items in organic and check out their list for other produce items that have very low pesticide residue and should be okay to buy conventional. Generally, onions, corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, and sweet potato are okay to eat according to the EWG list.
Have A Potluck Thanksgiving
Having a potluck for Thanksgiving saves the host from bearing the full financial cost of dinner without compromising the amount of food to share with everyone. Pulling resources together is great way to involve everyone attending Thanksgiving dinner and also makes for great conversation topics with the whole group.
Plan For Leftovers
After a large family gathering for your fancy green Thanksgiving dinner you’ll probably end taking home a ton of leftovers. But chances are you are going to get sick of eating turkey sandwiches, and before you know it you’ll have wasted food that needs to be thrown away. Plan ahead for unique and different recipes that you can use that leftover turkey for, an example would be turkey soup. Letting food go to waste is crying shame, so be sure to plan ahead.
Maintain Your Green Cleaning Practices
Make sure that you stay true to your green Thanksgiving even after everyone has long gone from your home and you are stuck with cleaning up all the mess. Be sure to fill that dish washer to the rim before starting it. Dish washers are very efficient at cleaning a full load of dishes when compared to washing by hand. Before tossing dishes into the dish washer, grab a fork and scrape excess food off those plates rather than running water to pre-rinse. Also, avoid using odd cycles on your dish washer like heavy rinse or pre-rinse. You should also avoid using the drying function on the dish washer, instead let them air dry for maximum energy efficiency.
Speaking of Energy Efficiency…
With all the hustle and bustle going on in the kitchen with cooking a turkey or two in the oven, and all the baking, and prepping, it’s going to get warm…especially if you have a lot of guests over already. Be sure to turn the temperature down on the thermostat. Don’t worry your guests won’t even notice and you’ll save yourself some money on that utility bill too. If you want to take it a step further, you could buy some soy or natural wax candles to light your home and create a peaceful ambience.
Even though using disposable dishes and utensils makes life easier for cleaning after a huge green Thanksgiving, try to avoid them. Disposables cost extra money, and are really just plain wasteful when you consider you probably have the means to get by without them. If you need extra dishes or utensils you don’t already have, just ask one of your guests or neighbors to borrow what you think you might need. They’d be more than likely to oblige, especially if you are planning to provide them a grand Thanksgiving dinner.
DIY for Decorations
Let your creative imagination run wild here. The easiest thing to do for centerpieces at your green Thanksgiving are pine cones, branches, red, orange, and yellow fallen leaves, etc. Not only will you save yourself money from buying decorations that you can only use once a year, but you can easily throw away your decorative pieces because they are biodegradable. You’ll save yourself storage space and spare the environment precious resources.
If you happen to be vegan or vegetarian, this tip isn’t for you. In the spirit and tradition of Thanksgiving, a turkey must sacrifice its life for the dinner table of millions of Americans. Make sure that it is organic, and preferably from a local source. If you happen to live in rural country like my parents do, you could even raise your own turkey and call him Thanksgiving, and when the time comes, he ends up on the Thanksgiving dinner table. For most people, raising your own turkey isn’t really an option. If you must buy it from the grocery store, don’t be fooled by labels like ‘natural’ or ‘free range’, ‘organic’ is the greenest turkey option from the store.
Larger Isn’t Always Better
Sometimes people don’t realize that their plates are bigger than normal and attempt to fill their entire large plate with food and then attempt to eat it all. This is problematic because it can lead to over-eating, which is actually expected for Thanksgiving, but it can also lead to wasted food that gets tossed in the garbage. Using smaller plates allows for guests to fill smaller portions of food, and then get up for seconds if need be. It’s also a great idea for small children who tend to take one or two bites out of something and then run off to play with their brother, sisters, or cousins. This really cuts down on wasted food while also helping people watch their weight.
Cook or Prepare Less Food
Most people cook or bake up a storm in the kitchen and way over-do the Thanksgiving thing. In the spirit of attempting your first official green Thanksgiving this year, try to tamper it down a litte with the old adage ‘less is more’. As mentioned before, Americans waste about 25 percent of prepared food on Thanksgiving every year. Think about how much money that could be in savings when you consider the total cost of providing a large gathering a giant feast.
Can you think of any more tips? Let us know in the comments.
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by cnewtoncom
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