Thanksgiving is the "original" green holiday - falls leaves, wildlife, foraging for food, sharing with our neighbors, over the hills and through the woods ... I could go on for paragraphs.
Instead, let's talk about how we can incorporate environmental responsibility or "green" our holidays.
First, reduce waste. Wasted food accounts for 15% of landfill contents. Earth911.com suggests a few core planning tips to avoid wasting food.
- Have a leftover plan. Think ahead so you don't up with too many turkey sandwiches and even more dressing than you can use.
- Consider energy use and efficiency. Can you put more than one dish in the oven at the same temp? What about washing dishes?
- From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste increases by 25%
- What can be recycled? Perhaps use recyclable cups and compostable plates for your appetizers and desserts.
Second, decorate with an eye to a green turkey. OK, maybe that's not the best imagery. But you get our point.
- Use natural elements like pine cones, gourds and wood, perhaps even fall leaves.
- Fold reusable napkins (cloth) into cute shapes or simply use festive colors to avoid disposable napkins.
- Have the kids cut up construction paper which can eventually be recycled or composted.
Third, source your food.
- Have you considered a Heritage Turkey? Or free range? Organic? (Options!)
- Buy local. Many regional farmer's markets are still open this week so you can purchase autumn foods and side dishes. Pumpkin can be a terrific base ingredient for vegetarian dishes.
Fourth, tote bags.
- One thing about Thanksgiving - we all carry "stuff" be it a dish to share, a bottle of wine or a hostess gift. Then there are leftovers
- Pack a lightweight tote so your host isn't scurrying around for disposable bags for your takeaway items.
- Pick up some festive totes to send home with your guests. Maybe add a special note or card for them to find the next day showing how much you are grateful for them.
Finally, green bean casserole. 'Nuff said.
The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project collects new and gently used tote bags for distribution to the region's food pantries. We are a project of the Thomas Merton Center. Visit our website for a list of permanent drop-off spots, information on how to organize your own tote bag drive and details on our partnerships with corporations and promotional products items. You can also follow us on Twitter@Tote4Pgh and Facebook.com/Tote4pgh