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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009: an Eco-conscious Affair

Today marks one week before America celebrates Thanksgiving. This historically based holiday is regarded as a joyous time to gather family, enjoy turkey, and eat in excess. While food is a large part of the Thanksgiving experience, for the luxurious, eco-conscious host or guest at a Thanksgiving affair this year, food is not the only way to green your Thanksgiving. Electricity Late November is often a cold time of year. While you certainly want all of your Thanksgiving guests to be comfortable, keep in mind that baking and other kitchen activities will warm up your house whether you adjust the thermostat or not. Planning ahead and turning down or off the heat while cooking is a great way to save electricity while still staying warm. When guests arrive, if you have a fireplace, you can save electricity and add ambience by starting a fire. Candlelight is also always a great way to create a luxurious lighting situation while saving on electric lights. These electricity saving ideas are ways to impress guests with your attractive atmosphere without appearing as if anything is being sacrificed. If anyone asks, however, as an eco-conscious host, you can stand behind keeping your electric bill and carbon footprint down. Centralize While at this point you might already have plans, potentially involving travel, for where to spend next Thursday, being with your friends and family is a great time to discuss future plans. Maybe next year you can plan to meet in a more centralized location. Or think about the travel involved in getting somewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving just weeks before you might be traveling there again to bring in the New Year. While most employers will give you at least a 4-day weekend, just because you have the time off does not necessarily mean you should spend that time traveling. Staying at home and inviting friend and neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving is a great way to be eco-conscious. Additionally, you could spend your long weekend catching up with old projects and getting ready for winter. One important weatherizing activity is going around and feeling windows for potential drafts. You then can plug those gaps and make your home more heat-efficient. Planet Green has helpful details on how to do this. Waste When planning your feast this year, think about the waste involved. Avoiding paper or plastic cups or plates is a first step in keeping down your waste levels. Silver wear and napkins are also a great way to add sophistication as well as to conserve your party’s contribution to your local landfill. Another way to cut down on waste is to encourage people to be mindful about their serving sizes while still eating their hearts out. While you may think you can eat a half-pound of turkey in one sitting, if you take small pieces at a time, you will avoid leaving extra on your plate once you are full. If everyone can try to have a clean plate at the end of the meal, the amount of waste you collect will be close to nothing and the uneaten food can become leftovers. Another great thing to do with uneaten food, especially if you have much more than you could ever eat, is to donate it to a local shelter. Making a few calls before hand can inform you of how you should prepare the food to be donated. Another option for cutting down waste is to prepare tupperware to be given to your guests with the food they most enjoyed. Try collecting plastic take-out containers from now until Thanksgiving, giving them a good wash, and then you will have a wonderful gift which will help ensure that the bounty prepared for your family and friends will not go to waste. I hope these ideas will help you think about some of the easy ways you can make your Thanksgiving an eco-conscious and wonderful affair. Image credit: The Daily Green, Local Win, Community Action KY, Steve Neuman

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