How to Plan a Green Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving turkey dinner

It’s the time of year when family and friends come from near and far to celebrate and give thanks together. It’s also a time when even the staunchest advocates for green living can struggle with ways to keep things green and planet-friendly. These tips will help.

In the Home

Your home offers many opportunities to go green and stay green for the Thanksgiving holidays and beyond. The more steps you take today to prepare for a greener, more planet-friendly holiday the better your results are sure to be.

Convert to a Tankless or Solar Water Heating System

Tankless water heaters have small tanks that heat water on demand for individual areas. Because the tanks are so small, they waste less energy keeping the water heated and ready for use. The key with tankless water heaters is to use them strategically so that multiple guests can enjoy hot showers at the same time.

Solar water heating systems take advantage of the sun’s heat in order to warm the water that is used throughout the home. There are several different types of solar water heating available to consumers today.

Some homeowners use a combination of solar or tankless with a traditional hot water heater. The tankless water heaters are used in key areas, such as kitchens or bathrooms, while the supplemental water heater works in other areas of the home.

These water heating choices will allow multiple Thanksgiving guests to take baths without worrying about running out of how water, and you won’t have to worry about an outrageous water heating bill just in time for Christmas.

Purchase Earth-Friendly Linens for Guest Bedrooms and Bathrooms

There are many types of linens on the market today. Green Home recommends using organic cotton towels and natural blends, such as hemp or bamboo when looking for green towels for the home. Also take quality into account when purchasing cotton towels. The better the quality of the cotton, the greater the durability of the towels.

Organic bedding materials include:

  • Cotton
  • Jute
  • Soy Silk
  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Calico

Once again, it’s important to pay attention to quality and purchase organic bedding that will be durable in order to not only get your money’s worth, but also to avoid ruining your strategy to go green by having to replace the items more frequently.

Your Thanksgiving guests are sure to appreciate not only the earth-friendly nature of your towels and bedding, but also the high quality of the products you’ve purchased.

Turn Down the Heat on Turkey Day

There will be plenty of heat in the kitchen to keep things nice and cozy on Thanksgiving Day. That’s not even taking into account all the extra bodies bringing warmth into the home. Instead of making things uncomfortably warm, consider turning down, if not off, the heat, and opting for cooler surroundings instead. If things become uncomfortably warm, consider opening windows and doors to allow the heat to escape before considering turning on fans or air conditioners.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

These bulbs burn brighter and consume far less energy than traditional incandescent or even the compact fluorescent bulbs sold today. They can help save money while keeping things bright throughout your home. The planet wins because the bulbs are known to last several years rather than a few months – in addition to the lower energy consumption.

Use Green Power Strips and Outlets

Green outlets and power strips have sensors that stop sending power to televisions, kitchen appliances, and other energy vampires that slowly suck energy when left plugged into traditional outlets and power strips – even when these items are turned off. This will not only help you save big time on your energy bills, but it will also help to ensure that precious planetary resources aren’t being wasted.

On the Road

Traveling during Thanksgiving can be hectic. Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train or bus, there are several things you can do to make your travel plans more energy efficient.

Traveling by Air

Consider booking flights that are direct routes without layovers if possible. While traveling by air, US News recommends that you prepare your own snacks and bring them along. That way you reduce waste, and have the added benefit of knowing exactly what you’re eating. This means you can be confident that the foods are sustainably-sourced, and contain no potentially harmful ingredients or preservatives.

Also, consider bringing along your own water bottle. While you can’t bring liquid into the airport, you can fill your personal water bottle at the fountain once you’ve passed through your security checkpoints.

Traveling by Train or Bus

Using mass transit, such as buses and trains is a great way to go green in and of itself. However, you can make it even greener by bringing along your own snacks and a few personal water bottles for the family.

Traveling by Car

There are many ways you can make traveling by car a greener proposition. Start by choosing a car that is either an electric or hybrid car if possible. This will save a great deal of money on fuel consumption while traveling, and emit fewer emissions than traditional automobiles of the same body types.

If hybrids and electric cars are out of the question, there are still other planet-friendly moves you can make, including the following:

  • Use GPS navigation to identify the most fuel-efficient route.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and rotated.
  • Bring along your own snacks and drinks.
  • Get a vehicle tune-up before traveling.
  • Resist the temptation to speed.
  • Avoid stop-and-go traffic – even if it means pulling off the road for a while.

Little touches, like these, make traveling for your Thanksgiving plans much more efficient, cost-effective, and planet-friendly.

For the Table

Your table is where the planetary benefits can really add up – and the last place many people look for greener Thanksgiving touches. These are just a few prime examples of changes you can make that will yield big results for the sake of the planet.

Create a Natural Centerpiece

Many people go out and purchase expensive Thanksgiving centerpieces that promptly land in the rubbish or recycle bin the very next day. By choosing natural centerpiece decorations such as pumpkins and other gourds, Indian corn, acorns, pine cones, and beautifully colored fall flowers and plants, you’re choosing items that can be composted once the guests are gone.

Buy Locally Sourced Foods

Locally sourced foods are more important than you realize. In fact, it ranks number one on National Public Radio’s list of key elements for Thanksgiving meals that are kind for the environment. Locally sourced foods are grown by local farmers, and spend very little time being transported from field to farmer’s market or community store. This means fewer emissions and a greener food product. Another consideration NPR recommends is buying pastured turkeys for the Thanksgiving meal, or choosing a native protein source according to the area in which you live.

Skip Paper Products

Not only is a lot of energy expended making and transporting paper products, including napkins, plates, utensils, cups, etc. to the store, but they also create a lot of unnecessary Thanksgiving Day waste.

If paper products are absolutely necessary, as in you don’t have enough dishes in your home to go around, make sure to have clearly labeled recycle bins where people can deposit their paper products.

Also consider recruiting a couple of children to help monitor the recycle bins for times when they need to be replaced. A $5 incentive will typically keep the bins nice and tidy all day – especially for smaller children who are generally excited to be asked to help out. Older children may require a little more compensation or incentive.

Compost Table Scraps

Natural centerpieces aren’t the only things that can be composted after Thanksgiving. According to Oregon State University, it is preferable to compost your own food scraps because those composted in landfills create methane gas.

Use a Crock Pot for Cooking

While not all Thanksgiving dishes can be prepared in crock pots, using them when possible can reduce a lot of wasted energy. US News reports that crock pots are among the most energy-efficient devices used in today’s kitchens. Fortunately, there are plenty of great Thanksgiving recipes that can be prepared in a crock pot.

Plan Ahead

There are many ways that planning Thanksgiving meals ahead can help you do great things for the planet. First, getting an exact headcount of guests can help you avoid preparing too much food, which will create far less waste. Second, planning ahead can help you take care of leftovers by either having a list of recipes for reusing them, or having a plan in place to donate them.

If every family adopts only one or two of these greener living tips for their Thanksgiving plans, the benefits to the planet will be enormous. Now is the perfect time to begin planning a greener Thanksgiving for you, your family, and your Turkey Day guests. These tips are a great place to begin, and may help you come up with even more green ideas of your own.

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