Thanksgiving is a special time of the year because it reminds us to be thankful! Thankful for our family, friends, food, and overall good fortune. Something that we should all be grateful for, however, that often tends to be overlooked throughout the holidays is our planet. With all the family get-togethers, cooking, and cleaning, it’s easy to generate excess waste. But that doesn’t mean that we should toss all of our green habits out the window.

Although greening your Thanksgiving may be the last thing on your mind, there are lots of simple things you can do that require little to no sacrifice in order to keep your festivities more eco-friendly.

Follow these great green Thanksgiving tips to celebrate how thankful you are for the planet.

1. Grocery Shopping

  • Plan your meal in advance and make a shopping list you can stick to so you don’t go off course purchasing things that you don’t need
  • Shop locally for organic produce – This will not only reduce emissions produced by large transport trucks but it will also contribute to your local economy
  • Choose an organic, pasture-raised turkey that was bred ethically and sustainably
  • Consider skipping the turkey altogether and serve an entirely vegetarian meal – Fewer resources, particularly water, are required in growing plants than in raising animals, so by opting for a meatless meal, you’re reducing the resources needed to create your feast
  • Keep an eye out for products that come in minimal and/or recyclable packaging
  • Bring your own reusable shopping bags to the store or market

2. Cooking in an eco-friendly and energy-efficient demeanor

  • Lower your thermostat or turn off your furnace as you begin cooking – Your oven and stove burners produce a lot of heat that will keep your house warm and toasty on their own
  • Use the right size burners for your pots to avoid wasting energy
  • Use ceramic or glass pans – You can turn down the oven’s temp by 25 degrees and get the same results because these types of pans heat so well that they’ll continue cooking even after being removed from the oven
  • Keep lids on pots and pans to help retain heat
  • Prepare sides that you can cook in the oven with the turkey simultaneously to avoid adding extra time to your oven’s use
  • Prepare less food to reduce food waste (you don’t actually need more than one pie to choose from)

3. Decorating and Tableware

  • Use real dishes, silverware, and cloth napkins – Not only do they look and feel more festive than their plastic counterparts, but your eco-friendly table settings will certainly help you cut down on waste at the end of the meal
  • When decorating, use minimalism as a general rule of thumb
  • Make your own decorations rather than purchasing them – Leverage this as an opportunity to spend some quality time outside with your kids looking for natural resources that you can use to create a beautiful centerpiece or wreath. You can also enlist your kids to get creative and craft Thanksgiving decor from upcycled materials
  • Consider dimming the lights and using soy candles to light your Thanksgiving meal – this will not only help you save electricity, but it will create an intimate setting for you to enjoy this special time with your friends and family
  • Serve tap water (not bottled water!)
  • Create stations for your guests to throw their trash – Organic (food scraps) and recyclable

4. Cleaning

  • Save any leftovers and compost your food scraps
  • Make sure that any food you place back into your refrigerator has completely cooled
  • Recycle all food packaging along with any other bottles or aluminum cans
  • Clean up using non-toxic cleaners to make your house sparkle without chemicals
  • Opt for cloth rags (or even old shirts) instead of paper towels
  • Unless food is really caked on there, scrape plates instead of rinsing them with hot water
  • Use your dishwasher – It saves energy and water, so only wash things that are not dishwasher-safe. Wait until you have a full load to run it and when the cycle is complete, let your dishes airdry just by opening the door

Between spending hours in the kitchen and hosting guests in your home, it’s easy to forget that this time of year is about gratitude. This year, make a conscious effort to take a step back to enjoy all that you have to be thankful for, including our planet!

Making eco-friendly choices during the holidays is great but making a commitment to live more sustainably, in general, is even better, and Kiwi Energy can help you. By powering your home with our environmentally-focused energy and natural products, you can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve chosen a sustainable future.