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Do's & Don'ts for an Eco-Thanksgiving

by Brandy Norleen

green_turkeyIt’s that time of year again, and you are preparing to cook a feast to feed the masses. As you start planning the smorgasbord of side dishes and entrees to feed your family this Thanksgiving, are you asking yourself how you can make this holiday a little more eco-friendly? It is easier than you think - let’s get started:

Cooking Safely
Do use organic and locally grown foods. They may cost a little more, but organic foods are environmentally friendly and healthier for your family. None of your guests will know the difference between your free range, hormone-free turkey from a traditional bird.

Also, when food is locally grown, it reduces the miles traveled to reach your dining room table.

Don’t use food that is heavily processed. It's often full of synthetic chemicals that aren't good for your body. Why not make food from scratch versus serving something that is pre-made? While it may take more time, you will be certain of what your family and friends are actually eating.

Serving the Meal
Do cook your food in your usual baking/cooking dishes and serve your meal on your nicer china. This way, you can simply wash the dishes after everyone has eaten. Your food will also look beautiful on your nice dishes, instead of flimsy and wasteful paper versions. Also, recycle any containers that you open while making your food (i.e. aluminum cans, plastic bottles, steel cans).

Don’t use paper, Styrofoam or plastic plates. Also, avoid plastic utensils or aluminum foil serving pans, unless you want to wash and reuse them. Most recycling facilities won’t accept any of these items, and they will all wind up in a landfill.

Heating the House
Do use your wood-burning fireplace (eco-friendly fire logs are also a great option). True, not everyone has one, but it’s a great way to cut back on using fossil fuels to heat your house. It’ll also add a cozy element to the atmosphere in your home and make it feel a little more like the holidays.

Don’t crank up the heater if you can avoid it.  Think green and set your thermostat at a reasonable temperature. Plus, with your oven going and extra bodies in your home, letting your house be a bit more chilly will help keep the temperature mild when your party is in full-swing.

The Extra Mile
Do use cloth hand towels and napkins. They are reusable after a simple wash and add an element of elegance and extravagance to your table.

Don’t use paper towels and napkins. They create unnecessary waste and will end up straight in a landfill.

Do dispose of the table scraps in a compost pile. If you don't have one, ask your friends and family if they or a neighbor has one, or see if any community collections are happening in your area.

Don't throw your table scraps away. Contradictory to what many people may think, in a landfill, food does not break down as you would presume, because there is not enough oxygen present for it to decompose naturally.  It's better to toss your scraps out back and let Mother Nature work her magic.

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