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Here are 9 tips to make Thanksgiving as eco-friendly as possible.
Stay close to home, or take the train – Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when airports and highways are jam-packed with travelers trying to make it to Grandma’s house. Why not skip the headaches and save some carbon by sticking close to home? Make a new tradition with your friends and family that live in your area. Or, if you must travel, consider taking the train – it’s far better on the environment than air travel or personal vehicles.
Keep it simple – Don’t feel like you have to amaze your friends and family with a gourmet magazine-worthy spread rife with exotic ingredients flown in from around the world. Nor is it necessary to provide a 6-course spread with choice of 14 side dishes. Most people aren’t looking for novel culinary fare on a day like this – they’ll be happy with traditional dishes that celebrate the bounty of the local harvest. Keeping it simple will also reduce the amount of electricity you use while cooking, which can be considerable on this holiday.
Buy local – Many of the veggies you need for your side dishes probably grow within 100 miles of your home. Check out your local farmer’s market for fall goodies like squash, greens, potatoes, yams, pumpkins and evergreen herbs like rosemary and sage. And don’t forget to check your local free-range farms for that centerpiece of the Thanksgiving piece, the turkey (unless you’re vegetarian, of course…).
Go vegetarian – If you’ve been thinking about trying out a vegetarian diet, Thanksgiving is actually a great time to do it. You’ll be amazed at how many options there are – you won’t even miss the turkey. Livestock put a huge strain on the planet, and factory farms do abominable things to those poor little animals before they end up on your plate. Check out vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes and meal ideas atVegWeb.com and The Veggie Table.
Serve organic beverages – Pick up some local libations if you’ve got nearby breweries and wineries, especially if you have guests coming into town – it’s a great way to show off regional specialties. If you don’t live near any craft beer or wine producers, pick up a few bottles of organic brew – there are dozens of varieties available at most health-food stores.
Use what you have – This is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to go green any day of the year, and it works on Thanksgiving, too. You don’t need fancy dishware – your regular tableware will do just fine. If you’re the Martha Stewart type and feel like everything must match perfectly, consider renting tableware, chairs and linens – it costs less than buying new.
Get extras at the thrift store – If you’re in need of a gravy boat, a vase for that organic bouquet centerpiece, a few extra glasses or a table runner, check your local thrift and consignment stores. Consignment stores in particular tend to stock up on things they think will be in demand during certain times of the year, so you might be surprise at the selection. It’s always better to buy secondhand!
Decorate with natural materials – There’s absolutely no reason to run out to the mall and purchase a bunch of Thanksgiving-themed junk that was made in China and will fall apart by next year. Skip the cheesy seasonal décor and take a cue from nature. Many people like to place pinecones in a bowl or basket as a centerpiece, or wind a string of white lights around some branches in a planter or tall vase. You could also purchase a living plant that can go into the garden next spring, or pick up a bouquet or organic blooms from your local independent florist.
Illuminate your home with beeswax or soy candles – No need to turn on every light in the house for your guests. Create a romantic atmosphere without adding to your electricity bill by placing beeswax or soy candles around your home. Avoid paraffin candles, though – they’re made from petroleum and emit nasty fumes into the air.