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7 GREEN Tips for Your Thanksgiving

October 30, 2015

As you’re gearing up for the holidays this year, there are many eco-friendly twists to consider, without taking away from your favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

1. Limit Your Carbon Footprint with Your Turkey Day

Can a turkey dinner really help fight climate change? It can when it’s made using foods that have a low carbon footprint. Resources like the Cool Foods Campaign can help when deciding between a free range turkey, a Tofurkey alternate or a local heirloom turkey.

Another helpful tip to stay mindful of while prepping your feast is that using fresh veggies instead of canned can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Commercial canning of vegetables uses 3 billion kWh of energy per year — enough to run 8,571,428 refrigerators for an entire year!

2. Stock up on organic foods for dinner

Most traditional foods for thanksgiving are available as an organic option. Organic produce is grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and organic turkeys are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. While it might take time to accumulate your complete menu of organic substitutes, it is a great way to provide a healthier and equally delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Invest in a roasting pan

While disposable roasting pans are inexpensive, if everyone in the United States used a disposable roasting pan to cook their Thanksgiving turkey, there would be 46 million tinfoil pans heading to the landfill every year. Instead, invest in a heavy-duty roasting pan you can use every Thanksgiving and throughout the year.

4. Get fancy with your dishware and silverware

Paper plates and napkins sound like a good thing when you’ve been slaving over a hot stove all day, but their environmental impact is huge. The average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year — which adds up to 662 billion napkins being added to the landfill on an annual basis. If you must use disposable napkins, use napkins made from unbleached recycled paper.

5. Polish your silver without toxic cleaners

Conventional silver polish contains harsh chemicals such as ammonia. Choose a silver polish made with natural ingredients to get your best silver to sparkle for Thanksgiving dinner.

An eco-friendly alternative to this is to make your own. To clean a few small pieces of silver, use a dab of white toothpaste. Squeeze a drop of toothpaste on your finger and rub it onto the silver for instant polish. If you have a lot of silver to polish, boil a few strips of aluminum foil and two tablespoons of baking soda in a pan. Add your silverware and let it sit for a few minutes to remove the tarnish.

6. Encourage your dinner guests to bring their own re-usable containers

Wondering how to package your leftover turkey and stuffing? Instead of sending your guests home with leftovers piled on paper plates, covered in plastic wrap, ask them to bring their own to-go containers. This minimizes the amount of wasted plastic wrap and plates immensely.

7. Compost leftovers that don't get eaten

There are bound to be some leftovers that outlast your family's desire for leftover turkey dinners, in addition to kitchen scraps like potato peels, stuffing stuck on dinner plates, and the cranberry sauce. Leftover potatoes, carrots, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce can be composted — but note that meat and dairy products should not be added to home compost piles or bins.