With the busy holiday season fast approaching, it’s easy to overlook being "green." But this is the perfect time to put your recycling radar and no-waste attitude to the test. Here are a few ideas to make your Thanksgiving holiday more sustainable and eco-friendly:
• Buy local. You can support the local economy, eat more nutritious and delicious food, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by buying items that haven’t traveled far to get to your celebration.
Area farmers markets are a great place to buy squash, greens, apples and pumpkins. You can even purchase your holiday flower arrangements, as well as fresh roasted coffee and cheese, all from local vendors.
The Chattanooga Market has its final outdoor market of the year on Sunday, November 19, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at First Tennessee Pavilion. If you have last minute needs or menu emergencies, stop by Main St. Farmers Market on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. The market will be open Wednesday, November 22, from 4-6 p.m.
In addition, Main Street Meats is selling organic, free range and heritage turkeys this year. The turkeys are from farms within 100 miles of Chattanooga. The shop is also offering delicious sides made with locally-sourced ingredients, including MSM bacon and cornbread dressing with bacon gravy and smothered green beans. Find out more about placing your order at www.mainstreetmeatschatt.com.
• Plan ahead so you have less waste, and only buy exactly what you need. The EPA estimates that 38 million tons of food waste was generated in 2014. It is possible to serve a crowd of people without having too much waste. Whole Foods has a handy online "Servings Planner" to calculate how many ounces of appetizers, turkey, potatoes, gravy and pie you’ll need per person. Visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays/servings-calculator to start crunching the numbers.
• If you do have leftovers, share them with your guests. Ask your guests to bring their own reusable storage containers. At the end of the meal, fill the containers with all the leftovers. Your guests will enjoy them during the long weekend, and you’ll keep food waste out of the landfill.
• Store your leftovers responsibly. Rather than reaching for plastic wrap or foil that will be thrown away after one use, make sure you have reusable containers on hand. Mason jars, glass food storage bowls and empty cottage cheese containers are great, durable choices.
"Bee's Wrap" is a relatively new alternative to plastic wrap. It’s made with organic cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, and you can use it any way you’d use plastic wrap. From wrapping extra cheese to covering a large bowl, it keeps your food fresh. It’s washable, reusable and, eventually, compostable. You can find it at local health food stores or buy it online.
• Make recycling easy. If you’re expecting a big crowd at your Thanksgiving dinner, place recycling bins in obvious places, and make sure your guests know what can be recycled. Beer cans, wine bottles, empty cans of pumpkin puree, cardboard packaging and more can be recycled locally.
• Reduce your energy consumption. While you’re cooking the big meal, turn your thermostat down a few degrees. The heat of the oven will warm the home to a comfortable temperature. It’s also a great time to turn off the lights, and go outside for a game of football instead of watching one on TV. Not only will you burn calories to make more room for pie, you’ll also save a little energy.
By making just a few adjustments to your holiday routine you can have an easy, enjoyable and more sustainable Thanksgiving.