Thanksgiving is next week, and you may be looking for ways to green-up this holiday so here are seven tips to get there.

One: Pick a central location for your big feast. It doesn’t matter if it is across town or across the country, the place in the middle is best. Every carbon emission that can be cut reduces the entire carbon footprint. (Don’t forget, if you leave home for the holiday turn down the thermostat and put your lights on timers rather than leaving them on.)

Two: Plan! By planning the meal in advance (writing a list and checking ads) not only helps minimize trips to the grocery store, but will also save money.

Three: Buy local. Purchase as much of your feast from local growers as possible. There are several local grocery stores that sell many fruits and vegetables from local growers. Most will advertise these are locally grown – save those transportation dollars.

Four: The turkey. Buy a free range, hormone-free, pesticide and antibiotic-free, natural fed bird. If you have not ever had one, you would not believe the difference between a “natural, free-range” and the average bird. There is also a big difference between fresh and frozen. Sure, they may cost a little more, but believe me they are worth it.

Five: Decorate simply. Use natural beeswax or soy candles, and other natural items to decorate your Thanksgiving table; after all, that’s what the Pilgrims used. Spread an assortment of small pumpkins, gourds, apples, pinecones, acorns, nuts, and dry fall leaves down the center of the table. A bowl or basket with fall fruits, Indian corn, interspersed with colored candles is festive and inexpensive. The colors and unfussiness will be a simple reminder of what Thanksgiving is really all about – a celebration and thankfulness for the freedoms and bounty we share in this country.

Six: Be wise about leftovers. Do not forget to bring your own containers! After the feasting has finished and the cleanup has begun, don’t throw out all of those leftovers – everyone should pull out containers they brought from home, so they can share in the spoils; hopefully, even the potluck dishes. This is how we do it in our family. I do not want to come home with some fruit casserole and a bit of leftover pie that I brought (we usually have about five or six pies!); but, I am happy to share all of my leftovers so that I can come home with more of a complete mini-meal for the next day. Talk about recycling!

Seven: Sharing. Share your time, your day, and your heart. Perhaps this is the year that you and your family will gather at a local soup kitchen and serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless, or deliver Thanksgiving dinner to a less-fortunate family.

Thanksgiving does not have to be complicated or stressful to be enjoyable. With just a little preplanning and a commitment to ꞌsimpleꞌ you can make this one of your most memorable Thanksgivings yet.


-- Lynn Youngblood is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association; a certified Residential Energy Client Service Coordinator by the National Energy Retrofit Institute; and a former nature center manager for over 17-years with the Missouri Department of Conservation.