Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner Tips for Any Budget

It is easy to get carried away during the holidays, but the primary focus belongs on celebrating with family and friends. Use these tips to green your Thanksgiving dinner without compromising your budget or personal style. You can save money and resources while also helping the younger generation understand that Thanksgiving is about much more than a stuffed bird.

1. Use Double-Duty D�©cor
Versatile decorations can carry you straight through the end of the year, saving time, money and resources. Try using rustic, natural flourishes such as cinnamon sticks, pinecones, raffia, and twig wreaths. Another green option is to use the children’s artwork or school papers as decorations.

2. Rethink the Antibacterial Holiday Handsoap
Did you know many popular seasonal soaps contain triclosan? Although the jury’s still out on this controversial ingredient, I’d rather avoid it and rely on regular soap and mechanical action to remove germs from my hands. If you still want to treat guests to a holiday scent, shop for green alternatives from brands such as method.

3. Conserve Energy
It is always difficult to anticipate how to adjust the thermostat to account for guests. I usually let the house get nice and toasty, and then turn the heat down a bit so it doesn’t switch on every time someone opens the door. Once the party starts, I adjust it again so everyone is comfortable.

4. Evaluate Menu Items and Quantities
The Thanksgiving menu is tricky because people sometimes want to include dishes simply for the sake of tradition. It is okay to update your menu. If no one eats a certain dish, skip it. (Thankfully, mincemeat pie fell off our menu many years ago!) Also, update your recipe quantity to reflect the number of guests.

5. Shop for Local Foods
This is a great way to support local businesses and reduce the emissions associated with transporting food across long distances. Local farmers are a good source of cooking tips and innovative recipes.

6. Choose Organic Food and Beverages
After hearing all the jokes about sticker shock at Whole Foods, I thought all organic food was expensive. Surprisingly, some items cost the same as their traditional counterparts. Shop around to find the best deals. If you are shopping for a green Thanksgiving turkey, be sure to familiarize yourself with the official definitions since the label terminology can be confusing.

7. Plan Leftover Storage
Thanksgiving festivities can leave you too tired to even think about dealing with the platters of leftovers. Plan ahead and have storage dishes ready so your brain can work on autopilot.Upcycled food jars are a cheap and eco-friendly way to store leftovers. You can also top a plate or bowl of food with an inverted plate to avoid using plastic wrap.

8. Use Real Dishes
Eek! Using dishes means washing dishes! It may sound scary, but using real dishes isn’t as inconvenient as it sounds. Make sure you start the day with an empty dishwasher so there is room for Thanksgiving dinner dishes and graciously accept any offers to help with cleaning.

9. Use Cloth Napkins and Tablecloths
Cloth napkins and tablecloths look much nicer than their disposable counterparts. Neutral colors, such as tan, cream, and white, tend to wash well and suit a variety of occasions. I usually toss them in the washer with OxiClean at the end of the meal.

10. Find Recipes to Revitalize Leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers should be consumed within a few days. If you find your household growing tired of leftovers, look up recipe ideas for creative serving ideas to avoid wasting food.

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