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5 Tips for a Greener Thanksgiving

5 Tips for a Greener Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of the more tradition-bound holidays, steeped in comfortable and warm ritual. Turkeys are made, stuffing is prepared, and potatoes are mashed. Menfolk try to play football, and then settle for watching the pros do it. In short, Thanksgiving is great. But you always have had a nagging feeling that as good as Thanksgiving is, you can have just as much fun but be a little more environmentally conscious (which often goes hand in hand with economically conscious). After all, you’re thankful for the earth, and want to show your appreciation by thinking green even if it's white outside. Here are 5 Tips for a Greener Thanksgiving.


This seems like an intuitive one, but it is one most people tend to forget. It is usually pretty chilly by late November, so the day starts with the heat on at a good level. But as the ovens start cranking out the food, and the house fills up with guests, your thermostat needs to do a lot less work to keep people warm. You can steadily turn down the heat and your house will still maintain a toasty, convivial warmth. You don’t want your house to be too warm, after all- people will already be nodding off into a tryptophan-coma.


The great joy of Thanksgiving is being thankful for the bounty before us, and the great temptation is to cook as much food as humanly possible. We all want the table groaning under the weight of an unimaginable spread. And that is fine- but be sure you don’t cook so much you waste it. Turkey sandwiches are great, but most leftovers eventually get thrown away (by Sunday, you don’t want to see turkey ever again). Send leftovers home with guests, or use scraps for compost. Honor the guests at the first Thanksgiving by using every part of the meal.


Nearly everything you want this season can be bought from local farms. Even if you are in a big city, there are local, sustainable farming projects near to you. Most of them will also be available in your local supermarket. Buying locally isn’t just good for the local economy, but for yours as well. One of the top costs associated with food is shipping it across the country. Buying locally cuts down on those costs, and it helps to use less gas nationwide.


No one likes doing dishes. It is the hangover the day of the party. But being sure you use real dishes and silverware does enormous good for the environment. If you use plastic, there are reusable, washable plastic plates and cups. Another trick is to use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. These add class to the occasion, and can be washed with any load of laundry. No need to add cranberry-stained paper to overflowing landfills.


People are going to be in a lot of rooms, which means a lot of light bulbs burning. You are already going to be using a lot of electricity in your cooking. So turn off some lights. Illuminate you dinner with candles- it will make for a warmer, homier, more old-fashioned Thanksgiving- and save you money. Turn off the TV, at least during halftime. No one needs to hear the studio guys joking around about nothing while you are trying to eat. You can reduce your electrical costs and increase your familial bonding. It is a win/win.

The colors of Thanksgiving are a deep red and a bright orange, as the last of the fall leaves rustle in time with your family coming up the stairs, but this year you can add green to the mix. If you want to continue this trend, and green up your house year-round, qualified contractors can help with everything from planning to execution. Have a great holiday!

Colleen O'Donovan

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