Before you go shopping this weekend for all your Thanksgiving needs, consider doing something good for the environment by making eco-friendly choices. Here are some shopping and household tips to make your Thanksgiving and winter holiday season a little bit greener!
- Buy local. There are a multitude of benefits to buying local – the foods are more flavorful; you make a smaller environmental footprint; there are increased health benefits, and you support local farmers. One of the benefits can be weight loss. Processed foods are loaded with fat, salt and simple carbohydrates. Buying local cuts down on having to purchase packaged, processed foods. Buying local can also introduce you to a world of new flavors. If you limit your diet to what’s available in grocery stores, you may be missing out on some local fruits and vegetables with unique flavors. If you serve wine with dinner, make sure to check out all the great options available locally. We are very fortunate to live so close to so many wineries! You can go one step further and purchase wine that is not only local, but also organic!
- Purchase a USDA-certified organic turkey. That means that no antibiotics or growth enhancers are used and that they are fed a diet of only organic feed. Additionally, the animals must be given access to outdoors, which leads to healthier birds than those raised in crowded cages.
- Forego the disposable dinnerware. This contributes greatly to the 25% increase in household waste we see every year during the holidays!
- Make recycling and composting easy for your guests. If you have bins clearly marked for recyclables and compostables and point them out, you can greatly reduce the amount of waste your household produces.
- Run full loads in your dishwasher. Using the dishwasher filled to capacity rather than hand-washing or running the dishwasher only partially filled saves water and energy.
- Don’t put your leaves out to the curb! Leaves make great mulch for your shrubberies that are over-wintering. Rake up those leaves then spread them around your shrubs and trees for extra protection.
- Decorate your table with found items, like pine cones.Then as an activity for the kids after the grown-ups retire to watch football, have them make birdfeeders to hang in the yard. Many variations on this craft can be found online:
- Tie a string around a pine cone so that you have two long ends.
- String Cheerios or other “O”-shaped cereal on the strings. Tie the two ends of the string together.
- Use a flat knife or popsicle stick to spread sun butter or peanut butter all over the surface of the pine cone.
- Roll the pine cone in a deep dish filled with sunflower seeds.
- Now you are ready to hang your birdfeeder outside!
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
– Tina Crandall-Gommel, Conservation Education Coordinator