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Thanksgiving is a time for family, delicious food, and enjoying time spent together.
However, the average Thanksgiving dinner we all know and love has some dirty laundry.
It causes extra pollution, waste, and is harmful to the environment and possibly even our health.
We can avoid this by making a few small changes to create an eco-friendly Thanksgiving!
These Thanksgiving tips will help get you started.
Here are my tips for a Green Thanksgiving
Just say no to plastic water bottles
For starters, pass by the individual plastic water bottles in the grocery store.
There may be tempting sales on cases of bottled water.
It may seem easier to buy a case and then recycle them.
Most health advocates will tell you that there’s a problem with maintaining purity of bottled water in storage.
The PCBs and phthalates used in making plastics are also not the healthiest option.
Tap water in most places is perfectly healthy, so if you don’t have a filter system and want to offer guests filtered water, invest in a filter pitcher like this one made of glass.
There are several available with charcoal filters that produce tasty water you can serve in a washable, reusable glass.
That’s at least 24 plastic bottles that won’t enter the landfills or oceans!
Now, what about your menu?
Are you cooking with your own pots and pans, or are you bringing more temporary containers into your home?
A USDA certified organic Thanksgiving turkey can make you feel better about eating all those leftovers!
If you’ve planned to cook your turkey in one of those carefree plastic cooking bags, you might think twice.
Health advocates say cooking in plastic may release chemicals into food when the plastic is heated.
Definitely not a great option!
During intense heating, plastic breaks down causing a chemical residue to transfer to the food.
Leaving suspected carcinogens as well as an endocrine disruptor that may cause reproductive problems. YUCK!
And while you’re planning the menu, try to incorporate food from nearby sources.
A farmer’s market may have locally grown pumpkins and other produce that doesn’t need to be trucked across the country.
Saving fossil fuels and offering fresher products than what you can buy in the store.
Though packaged food may look enticing, you can avoid the preservatives and control the sugar, salt, and other ingredients in homemade dishes.
Cooking the food “from scratch” at home saves packaging and trucking.
It also gives you a chance to experiment with that pumpkin pie recipe from Aunt Sally.
If you need help, why not ask a few guests to bring a side dish or two?
This saves you from having to cook everything and may even lead to a new favorite dish!
Decorations always help to bring the season indoors.
If you really want to go natural, stay away from supermarket bouquets unless they sport an organic label.
Most of the colorful commercially cut flowers available in grocery stores come from outside the U.S., grown in countries with few restrictions on pesticides.
Non-union workers in the fields routinely suffer excess pesticide exposure.
Use your own flowers or those labeled organic.
You’re not only helping the South American workers, you’re also keeping more toxins from your home.
Most people choose a harvest theme, so the usual gourds and corn stalks are readily available, non-toxic, and available locally.
Skip the scents
Avoid commercial air fresheners to scent your home, as they can cause a variety of health problems.
A few problems linked to regular use are headaches, earaches, depression, irregular heartbeat, and diarrhea in babies.
Even a commercial freshener labeled “all natural” may not be chemical free.
Recently, the Natural Resources Defense Council found 12 of 14 commercial air fresheners contained phthalates, though not listed on the label, including those marked unscented.
But the good news is you can make your house smell good naturally!
You can create an inviting aroma with a stove-top potpourri or a fragrant, spicy mulled wine in a simmer pot.
If you have a fireplace, put sage leaves on the logs.
Just the good smells from your kitchen will be enough to make your guests comfortable.
For more ideas, don’t miss my post 6 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas.
Use the ‘good’ china
Of course, there’s no need to remind anyone “going green” to pass on the disposable plates, cups, and forks.
While you’re at it, toss the disposable tablecloth, too.
This is a chance to get out that lovely China that sits in the cupboard most of the year.
And when else will you bring out the hand-crocheted tablecloth from your grandmother?
They are biodegradable as well as made from sustainable and renewable resources.
Avoid Styrofoam at all costs.
The length of its half-life in a landfill hasn’t been determined yet, it’s difficult to recycle, and has tons of chemicals.
This Thanksgiving, think of ways to be more sustainable and enjoy real, homemade, food.
That’s a big step.
After all, at Thanksgiving it’s all about family and food, so break out the cookbooks and the good china and have a wonderful feast with a low carbon footprint.
You’ll save money and your health as well.