Thanksgiving will be here far faster than I’d like to think about and Hannukah, Christmas and other holidays are looming in our near futures as well.. In our house, we will host Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners (along with doing everything else that needs to be done). Most of us are all about being eco-friendly all year long and we don’t take holidays off. (A lot of these tips are good year round as well.) The following list of 20 suggestions is to get you started thinking about how to celebrate while taking it easy on our planet’s resources and always remember to check Eco Etsy shops gifts you need!
1. Select handmade cards made with recycled paper products. I searched Etsy and found a wide variety for Thanksgiving: https://www.etsy.com/search/handmade?q=recycled+paper+thanksgiving+cards&view_type=gallery&ship_to=ZZ
2. Serve locally grown food from the farmer’s market in your area.
3. Avoid artificial room scents by simmering sticks of cinnamon, cloves of allspice or whatever creates the natural smells you love (I wonder if crushed pine needles would work).
4. Recycle and compost everything you can.
5. Use reusable cloth napkins. (You can make your own from recycled clothing by purchasing articles of clothing in complementary patters/designs. Select the clothing you wish to use, wash in hot water and dry. Cut fabric squares, triangles, circles–BE CREATIVE–in the sizes you need. Hem the sides or use pinking sheers for a great no-sew project.
6. If you’re in the company of a lot of people you may be able to turn down the heat. Bodies create heat as do your oven and other cooking devices.
7. Let nature decorate for you! If you have pine trees, pine cones, or any foliage suitable for your holiday gatherings, use them instead of purchasing mass created ready-made items. (check for bugs before putting them on your table…fair warning)
8. Send left-overs home in saved and washed food containers (yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc.) or wrapped in waxed paper or aluminum foil.(You can also use glass jars with lids.) Forego the plastic bags and plastic wrap. Aluminum foil, along with most food containers, can be recycled as a bonus!)
9. Purchase a vegetarian fed, hormone and antibiotic free free-roaming turkey. One local store near us is selling them for $2.79/lb. which is much less expensive than some other places close by.
10. Be creative with gift-wrapping. Work with your families to wrap gifts in boxes saved from other purchases with cloth wrappings or cloth bags that can be used year-after-year so that you get “new to you” wrappings each year…kind of a “round robin” exchange of gift wraps! I use my t-shirt bags which are also a gift that keeps on giving. (I got holiday print fabrics for an incredibly inexpensive price and I will also wrap gifts with that.)
11. Baking soda and white vinegar are fantastic for cleaning almost anything. They’re biodegradable and chemical free which is healthier for everybody too! Hydrogen peroxide disinfects but check your surfaces first as it can have a bleaching effect on some.
12. Using an energy efficient dishwasher SAVES WATER over handwashing! (as much as 35%). Hand wash only what you have to and let machines do the rest. Don’t rinse. Instead scrape and compost! Use biodegradable phosphate free dishwasher detergent and white vinegar as the rinse.
13. If you MUST use plastic storage bags, rinse them out when you’re finished with them and recycle them with the plastic grocery bags. (YES! It can be done and I just learned this too!)
14. Replace your furnace filter (just in general for the colder months if you need to use a furnace. (If you don’t need to use a furnace, I don’t want to hear about it until July. Thank you very much.)
15. Purchase reusable batteries and quick chargers instead of using disposable batteries for any battery (almost) needs.
16. Use LED light strings. (Replace non-LED strings that no longer work with LED lights–we don’t want lights in landfills!
17. Consider LED candles which can be used year after year.
18. Set holiday lights on timers and unplug them during the day to save energy.
19. Plan shopping trips so that one trip accomplishes several tasks to save gas and car emissions.
20. Consider using small appliances (crock pots, roasters, toaster ovens) for cooking if you don’t need an entire oven. When using the oven, cook multiple dishes at the same time if possible.
Most importantly, enjoy time with the ones you love. Time is our most precious commodity and nothing can ever replace the good memories. (And a personal request: If you can please remember people in your neighborhood who might be alone or give to agencies (like the food bank) for families in need. One very eco-friendly gift is to donate to your gift recipient’s favorite charity because some of us don’t need more stuff!)
Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate!