By Fredrica Syren:
I feel that we tend to spend a ridiculous amount of money and create lots of waste during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays just to have a wonderful family meal. Pretty much every year, my family hosts Thanksgiving. Over recent years, though, I’ve become focused on (a.) not going overboard and (b.) hosting with as small a carbon footprint as possible.
If you want to take a few steps toward an eco-friendlier and a zero-waste effort this holiday, read my list of tips for simple ways we can be a little more sustainable and environmentally friendly without losing our sanity. Remember, it’s all about reducing our carbon footprint, not about being perfect; so you don’t have to use all the ideas. Even if we all choose a few ideas that resonate with us, we will making a dent in the loads of waste that will be filling up your trash cans post-celebration.
- Shop local and zero waste—I like to shop for my holiday food at the local farmers’ market because I can find the freshest, local organic food with little or no wrapping at a low price. I plan my menu according to what is available locally. I buy everything else in bulk at my co-op and bring my own cloth bags to avoid waste.
- Decorations—There is no need to buy brand new decorations for Thanksgiving. Instead, use things you already have around the house, like neutral colored candles and glass vases or jars. Use natural elements like twigs, leaves, mini pumpkins, Indian corn, flowers, etc.; and upcycle them into great Thanksgiving decorations. How about the fun idea of creating place cards made from leaves?
- Do you not have enough plates, silverware and glasses? Borrow from someone who is not using theirs. If you must get new, go shopping at a thrift store for that perfect shabby chic look.
- Use a cloth table covering and napkins.
- Drinks—Skip water bottles and serve tap water infused with herbs and fruits. It looks very nice. Buy beer and wine in bulk.
- Save leftovers and let your imagination turn them into to new fun dishes. (Or search Pinterest.) Give guests the leftovers in mason jars. If you’re serving a turkey, save the carcass of the turkey breast and use as a base for making broth the next day, either on the stove or by slow cooker.
- Compost what you can’t eat—Food waste costs money, but more importantly, it is a huge environmental problem, so compost any food that simply cannot be eaten as leftovers.