How To Green Your Holiday Meal

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Working up a menu for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or another upcoming holiday? Here are three tips to help you be more environmentally responsible while planning that feast.

1. Opt For Organic. We know that organic foods are better for our bodies, but did you know that they're significantly better for the planet too? Since organic farmers don't use toxins on their crops, they prevent chemicals from contaminating soil and water, and from harming wildlife. It doesn't just need to be just the turkey or ham that's organic; it can be the wine, too, or the vegetables in the side dishes. An added plus: organic foods taste better!

2. Think Through the Decor. If you're shopping for table settings, look for organic, reusable linens and cloth napkins. As for the centerpiece, try to go with one that's nondisposable or edible -- such as a cornucopia filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables - instead of flowers. Did you know that around 80 percent of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from Colombia and Ecuador and contain 50 times more pesticides than is legal to have on edibles? Just some food for thought.

3. Do Right With What's Left. If there's one thing synonymous with American holidays, it's lots and lots of leftovers. So what to do with yours? If there's a food bank or homeless shelter in your region that takes prepared foods, take them there. If not, you can turn your leftovers into other meals, including soup or sandwiches; mashed potatoes can become a breakfast hash.

Whatever becomes of your grub, deal with those licked-clean dishes responsibly: A full load in the dishwasher is greener than washing them by hand, especially if you skip the drying cycle.

Tell us: How do you green your holiday meal?