6 Easy Earth Friendly Thanksgiving Ideas

Herb carving the bird, circa 1988

As the holidays are fast approaching, I thought I would share 6 things that I have done for years, not just at the holidays, but simple practices that will help save resources. (and maybe a little $$$ too)

  1. Cloth Napkins are something that we have used for as long as we have been married. We have an old farm table with a drawer in the side and we have always kept the cloth napkins there. They get thrown in the wash and put back into the drawer.  We have never bought paper napkins and, over the years, I’d say the only occasions I have ever bought paper napkins were for a party that I wanted to have a theme and found some that matched the theme.
  2. Don’t make too much food. Try to plan for your meal so that you don’t make too much food. The extra energy that is consumed in doing so is wasted and even though leftovers are awesome for a few days, you will still end up throwing out some food which is wasteful and takes up landfill space. If you have a compost bin, you can compost everything except dairy and meat products. Those are the items that could end up in the landfill.  And even in the landfill, because they don’t receive any air, they never decompose.
  3. Buy Local…This one can be tough. We try to do this but some things you just can’t find. Local pumpkins and apples, of course, my greens are out in my cold frames, but we will probably purchase a Butterball turkey, which I know isn’t local. Reading a food magazine from work yesterday, there was an article where they  had a contest for winter strawberry recipes. What bothers me about this is,the fact that the magazine was promoting an out of season item for areas such as Nebraska due to the strawberries having to travel from Florida. So, my goal is to try to find food that hasn’t had to travel far to get to my table. This is where eating foods that are “in season” is the important goal. If something isn’t grown in your area, bananas or pineapple or lemons for example, then maybe you look for a different recipe that is something “in season” and is grown or produced within a 100 mile radius of your house.
  4. Real Dishes, no paper plates or plastic. Break out the good stuff. Don’t use paper or plastic plates. Yes, there will be dishes to wash but it is a holiday and you want it to be festive anyway, so be kind to the earth and use a reusable item instead of a throwaway item. Try to use aluminum foil as opposed to plastic wrap to cover your leftover dishes if you don’t have lids. The aluminum foil is recyclable and the plastic wrap isn’t. Here is a video about the effects of plastics on the oceans.
  5. Watch your water usage when washing dishes. A pet peeve of mine is when I see people who have dishwashers, but insist on washing their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher. Dishwashers today are so efficient that they will usually take all the food off of your dishes so that you don’t have to waste water by washing your dishes twice. If you are concerned about a dish that may have had something baked on then, by all means, pre-scrub that dish before loading it into the dishwasher but turn the water off while you scrub. This is not to say that some things may need some additional cleaning but you will be saving a very valuable resource if you try to do more with less. You might take a pitcher and catch the water that you are rinsing and use that on your houseplants. Every drop is valuable and if it goes down the drain and not being used remember that you are still paying for it. Watch this 2 minute video on Youtube Also, remember to only run the dishwasher when it is full. Dishwashers actually save more water than washing dishes by hand. Another tip is to not allow your dishwasher to go through the drying cycle and just open the door and stop the process.
  6. And finally, use reusable bags when you go shopping. We keep them in all our cars and so they are readily available. Get in the habit of taking them with you even if it means putting a note on your door to remind you to take them with you. And another note on the dashboard of your car to take them into the store. You will eventually remember them all the time.