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Friday, November 14, 2008

13 Eco-Friendly Tips for a Greener Thanksgiving

by Kristen Banker on November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving is a great time to go green. The season of Thanksgiving is about celebrating the earth and what it has to offer us, so respecting the environment is a great way to send the planet an eco-friendly thank-you.

Using eco-friendly products, reducing, reusing and recycling during Thanksgiving can help diminish waste to the environment. An eco conscious Thanksgiving will enrich your family’s holiday experience, because you’ll know you have helped reduce the impact on the environment, something we all should be thankful for. Here are a few tips for having a green Thanksgiving.

  1. When running around picking up all your necessities for the big day, make sure you bring along reusable bags. See if you can reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying only as much as you need and choosing products that come in packaging that can be recycled.
    Reusable Shopping Bags

    Reusable Shopping Bags

  2. Buy locally grown food. It’s a great way to have a green Thanksgiving. Locally grown is generally organic and therefore good for your health and the environment. It requires less fuel to reach local store shelves which saves on fuel. It also contributes more to your local economy by supporting the local farmers and merchants. Foodroutes can help you find local merchants in your area.
  3. Buy organic fruits, vegetable, (apples and potatoes are very high on the pesticide hit list, and retain huge amounts of the chemicals sprayed on them), and grains grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic farming also increases soil fertility, prevents erosion, and is more cost-effective for farmers.
  4. If you’re having Turkey as part of your dinner, search the Eat Well Guide. You can find types of meat by production methods, and locations where you can purchase an organic turkey. The “production methods” section allows you to select items labeled 100% vegetarian fed, grass fed, free-range, non-confined, no antibiotics, organic, etc. You can also contact your local grocery store and ask if they carry turkeys labeled “American Humane Certified,” or “USDA Certified Organic.”
  5. Lift a glass of organic or biodynamic wine, (in recycled glasses of course), and give thanks to sustainability. Serve organic wine with “real” corks not plastic or twist off tops. Your eco-friendly Thanksgiving party can help preserve the cork industry.
    Protect Our Earth Glasses

    Protect Our Earth Glasses

  6. If you have to fly for the holidays, purchase carbon credits at Carbon Planet to offset your portion of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by your flight. A typical long-haul flight produces nearly four tons of carbon dioxide.
  7. Plant a Tree as part of the family affair. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. By planting one tree, in one year, that tree will absorb roughly 26 pounds of carbon dioxide and return enough oxygen to supply a family of four. The Plant-A-Tree-Today (PATT) Foundation was formed with its mission to react to problems caused by the massive and increasing levels of deforestation worldwide. Help raise awareness of environmental issues and the role forests play, take action against climate change, educate children on these issues and to Plant a tree this Thanksgiving.
  8. Keep your thermostat at an acceptable setting, and start a fire in your fireplace to keep warm. If you normally keep your temperature at 74 degrees Fahrenheit, try lowering it two degrees on Thanksgiving. This will conserve extra energy.
  9. Nature always decorates best, especially this time of year as the trees shed their brightly colored leaves. Take a nature walk and gather signs of the season from your local environment to create a simple, beautiful harvest centerpiece. With a little imagination, you can make great eco-friendly Thanksgiving decorations and have a lot of fun in the process. Gather found items such as pinecones, colored leaves, seedpods, branches and colorful berries and leaves. Place your treasures in recycled vases or bowls for a naturally green centerpiece.
  10. Decorate your table with beeswax candles rather than petroleum-derived paraffin candles. The beeswax is not only healthier for you and the planet, but it smells better too! For an extra touch, fill a recycled glass bowl with seasonal grains, (such as corn), and place a pillar, (soy or beeswax), candle in the center.
    Early Bird Candle

    Early Bird Candle

  11. All flowers remind us of nature’s bounty, but not all flower companies are eco-friendly. Most spray their crops with heavy amounts of pesticides. Order a gorgeous Thanksgiving centerpiece from Organic Bouquet. They’ll give ten percent of your purchase to The Nature Conservancy, and send your flowers in biodegradable, corn-based flower sleeves. Head to your pantry for empty containers such as seltzer bottles, spice jars, wine bottles, cans, etc. to use as vases for your flower arrangements.
  12. Purchase recycled paper products, if you need to have disposable plates and cups. Otherwise, use regular plates and cups that can be washed so you don’t produce any waste.
  13. Try and cook just the right amount of food for your family and friends because nothing is worse than wasted food. However, if you have too much food, send your guests home with a doggie bag. You can also donate leftover food to a local shelter or food bank. Mahalo can help you with this.

Sustainable Agriculture Chardonnay 2006

Sustainable Agriculture Chardonnay 2006

Whatever else you do on Thanksgiving, make it a time to say thank you to the people in your life who matter most. Many of the best moments in life are those spent with friends and family. As part of your eco-friendly Thanksgiving, give thanks to the many ways the environment sustains and enriches our lives.