Green Thanksgiving ideas

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is little more than a week away! I’m sure your travel plans may already be in place, but there are some easy ways to practice green living this Thanksgiving.

Obviously, the biggest part of Thanksgiving is food. At least it is in my family. We all gather at my mom’s house and eat and eat and eat! There are snacks, sweets, turkey, trimmings, dessert, etc. Lots of food.

In order to save my mom headaches, time and money, each family brings an item. This saves her energy and money. Her oven isn’t on for 3 days straight and her fridge isn’t stuffed past full with food.

We do the turkey and we brine it. The brine lasts overnight and needs to be cold. Since it’s chilly this time of year, we put the turkey and brine ingredients in a cooler outside the back door. This saves space in our fridge and the turkey is always kept plenty cold. (We like this turkey with brine recipe.)

Other relatives do the side dishes and breads. If you’d like to conserve energy, or don’t have room in your oven to cook everything, try using your crockpot. Crockpots use less energy than a conventional oven, and there are lots of things that can be cooked in them. My mom likes to do a hot fruit salad, and I once cooked a pumpkin bread in ours. Some smokers and roasters also use less energy.

Once the food is out of the oven, leave the door open just a bit to let the air from the oven help warm the rest of your house. (Be careful if you have children or animals running around!)

Use fruits and veggies that are in season. Apples, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and greens are all in season right now. They are some of the cheapest options at the store and many types will most likely be local. That means that less fuel was used to get them to your grocery store and your table.

Don’t offer a ridiculous amount of food. Instead of having two or three meats, several vegetables, two types of bread, and lots of desserts; have one meat, two or three veggies and only one dessert. With the economy like it is, it’s nice to cut back and be thankful for things like good health, happy family and jobs.

And if you really want to be green this thanksgiving, try a Tofurky.

Once you have the food settled, what about the table? Use pinecones and pine needles, pumpkins and holly berries for decorations, and if you’d like the ambience of candles, look for soy-based candles.

Instead of paper plates, use real dishes and utensils and cloth napkins. Yes, this will mean more clean-up, but hopefully you can enlist some extra hands once the meal is over.

For leftovers, re-use plastic containers that have been taking up space in your cupboards, or ask people to bring their own take-home containers.

After the meal, sit down and play family games. Don’t just turn on the TV and fall asleep! Set up a flag football game or start a game of Charades. Enjoy the company of your family, because it’s not often that everybody gets to gather together.

We usually start talking Christmas (or other holiday) plans at Thanksgiving. If the adults do a gift exchange, maybe you could consider foregoing the gifts and donating to a charity.

What green ideas are you going to use this Thanksgiving? I’m sure I’ve missed some and always love extra advice!


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