Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Have a Green Thanksgiving

What is a better way to give “thanks” for our bountiful resources than by reducing the amount of environmental impact caused by the holidays? Surveys suggest that household waste increases more than 25% just between Thanksgiving and New Years. Going green doesn’t have to put a damper on the traditional aspects of the holidays: our ancestors were pretty green without even knowing it. Before the days of refrigerated semi-trucks and chemical preservatives people tended not to waste resources the way our culture tends to. That’s why it has become a growing trend to get back to the basics while still enjoying rich Thanksgiving traditions. 

Here are just a few simple ways to enjoy the holidays while saving money and celebrating sustainably: 

Eat, Drink, and be Merry

Just be thoughtful about how you do it. Purchase locally what you can because transportation used to haul out of season foods cross country around Thanksgiving makes it a wonder more of us don’t experience smoggy Christmases. Farmers markets are always hopping in the autumn making it easier than ever to serve delicious sustainable local food. Choosing organic can ensure that your leftover scraps will make great garden compost- another green benefit that arises without cutting out the enjoyable tradition of gorging ourselves. 

Make the Occasion Beautiful

Homemade decorations don’t have to look like third-grade classroom projects. Local trees can lend a hand when it comes to adding elegance to the table. Acorns may be used to adorn napkin ties or even centerpieces while dried leaves make creative place cards. Use long, flexible sticks collected from autumn tree pruning to create festive fall wreaths. Avoid using disposable plates for small gatherings and instead break out the fine china for the adults. Water costs can be saved by washing the dishes all at once to give our water supplies a much needed break as well. 

Avoid Couch Potato Syndrome

It may seem like a great idea to take a nap in front of the tube after a filling meal and good conversation. Instead, attempt to get the family outside to enjoy the fresh air before the winter chills set in. The fall can be a great time for planting trees which can be a great way to show young ones appreciation for the environment and the importance of giving back. Playing football instead of watching it is a great idea to blow off some steam and avoid some of those excess pounds of holiday “thanks”.

John F. Kennedy said it the best: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Our families and friends are worthy of celebration during the holidays, but so is the environment that makes it all possible. Going green for Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean forfeiting our favorite holiday traditions- it means adapting them in ways that creates a real display of giving thanks.

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