Thanksgiving is upon us. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were picking strawberries in sunny, summer fields? Here we are on the brink of winter but in a thankful, gregarious mood. Time to stuff the turkey and celebrate our heritage.
While preparing for the feast day, consider a few greener options for your gathering and the Earth will be thankful too! Kids can help a lot with these tasks and can take the lead telling party goers the ins and outs of how to participate. Your guests will listen better when someone small is giving the directions: I promise.
Not everyone uses a formal invitation for the Thanksgiving meal. It is often a gathering of those closer to you and is sometimes even just a tradition of the time and place with no communication required. However, if you do send out invites, greener options exist. Choose products made with recycled paper, even better if they have soy based inks (versus petroleum based). Choose invites that can be easily recycled that are free of glitter, grommets or excessive bling. Of course, kids can hand make the invites and everyone will think they’re super cute.
When choosing your turkey, green beans, salad, bread and all the fixings – look local. Is there a bakery in town that can provide croutons and rolls? Does a farmer nearby sell the birds? Can you get veggies at a Farmers Market? Look up both local farmers and Farmers Markets at the Local Harvest website. Buying food near where you live cuts on transportation emissions and supports your surrounding economy. Bringing the kids with you to these markets and farms will help them connect food to farms and disconnect from the grocery. Boast to your guests about your local goods and encourage them to shop in the same manner.
Easily Accessible Recycling
Make sure there’s a well labeled recycling bin next to every trash can. Label what can go in there since recycling differs from community to community. Bonus points for a compost crock too! Ask the kids to instruct visitors on where to dispose of their waste – they’ll listen harder when the information is coming from little mouths.
Reusable Plates and Cutlery
It is pretty well agreed upon in the green realms that reusable serving ware and cutlery is the most environmentally friendly way to go. You’ll have a crowd there to help with dishes after all. Using soap and water and bit of electricity to heat the water requires much less energy than to cut down a tree, transport it, pulp it, form pulp into a plate, package it, transport the package to a store, get it to your home and then move it to the landfill. Plastic spoons and forks are worse with the oil refining involved. Real dishes and utensils make the party feel fancier anyhow. Kids can help set the table and clear it off after everyone is full. Why not let them do the dishes while you’re at it too?
Reusable Doggie Bags
Thanksgiving is notorious for its leftovers. I know that my family gathering of often 50+ people still sends attendees home with doggie bags. Go green and skip the single use zipper bags. They can be recycled with your grocery bags but only if thoroughly washed and dried which – let’s face it – doesn’t happen often (..unless you’re my mom. You’re awesome, mama!). The greenest option would be to ask guests to bring their own containers from home. Be prepared though: not everyone will remember and sometimes what they do have won’t be the right shape and size required. Your best bet is to have a few inexpensive but reusable and recyclable containers for your guests’ Black Friday lunch. They can return the containers later or you can let guests keep them. Let the kids decorate and label the lids for good fun.
Guess what: all of these green entertaining ideas can translate to almost any gathering you plan – be it birthday party, cook out or New Years celebration. Involving your children in planning and running an event not only keeps them occupied and interested in your family matters, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and can boost confidence. Keeping it green with the kids will encourage them to use these same habits throughout their lives.
So how green is your Turkey Day? Will you change any practices? Happy Thanksgiving!