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8 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving Celebration

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The holidays are a time of family, warmth, joy -- and waste. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, 5 million extra tons of trash are
created each week. It’s easy to reduce your contribution to all that
waste -- and greening your Thanksgiving is a great place to start. Here
are eight ideas to get you on your way.

1. Buy organic, local produce.

Support
the local economy and the environment by purchasing organic produce for
your Thanksgiving feast from a local farmers’ market. Better yet,
participate in the 100-mile Thanksgiving Challenge. Make a meal for your family and friends using only ingredients sourced within 100 miles of your home.

2. Eat natural turkey.

Although turkeys are
native to North America, today’s turkeys have little in common with
their ancestors. More than 99 percent of turkeys raised in the United
States today are broad-breasted white turkeys. This version is renowned
for its large, meaty breast, which has become so big that these turkeys
can’t reproduce on their own and must rely on human intervention to
keep their species alive.

Buy a natural turkey this year.
Order your family a certified organic heritage turkey, which is raised
outdoors, eats a varied diet and has a more succulent flavor than
turkeys raised on factory farms. Find a heritage turkey near you using Local Harvest.

3. Make just enough food.

Although
Thanksgiving is a holiday renowned for its leftovers, you should still
take extra care not to prepare more food than your family can eat. To
help you plan your Thanksgiving feast, Use Less Stuff came up with this list of the amount of food you should make for each person:

Turkey – 1 pound

Stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes – 1/4 pound

Cranberry salad – 3 tablespoons

Pie – 1/8 of a 9-inch pie

After
the meal, look at the number of guests versus the amount of leftover
food and evaluate how much food was consumed. Keep track of your
calculations for next year!

4. Manage leftovers.

Divide
up the leftovers between your guests and send them home in reusable
containers. If you have more leftovers than your family can manage,
donate them to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

5. Clean house with nontoxic, green cleaners.

If
you’re hosting the Thanksgiving celebration (and therefore must clean
your house beforehand), be sure to use green cleaning products. Natural
homemade cleaners will also get the job done, and most use basic ingredients already in your cupboard.

6. Use reusable dishes and napkins. 
 

A
horde of guests and a kitchen full of dirty pots and pans can make it
tempting to set your Thanksgiving table with disposable dishes. Don’t
give in! If you don’t have enough  dishes or china for a crowd, pick up
inexpensive used plates, which can be found in thrift stores for $1 or
less. You can set a pretty -- and interesting -- table by selecting
mismatched dishes with similar color themes.

If you must
use disposable dishes, buy biodegradable and compostable dishes and
utensils. Along the same lines, use cloth napkins instead of disposable
ones.

7. Make your own centerpiece.

If
there’s still room at your table after all the food and dishes have
been set, create a homemade centerpiece. Avoid store-bought bouquets
and gather items from nature. In most areas of the country, not much is
in bloom, but cutting bare branches or branches with seasonal berries
adds sculptural interest and connects your table to the season. You can
put your hand-picked bouquet in this 60-second vase or this wood chip vase.

8. Drink organic wine.

If wine is part of your Thanksgiving feast, buy organic. Check out Natural Home’s guide to organic wine to get started.

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