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Nov. 1, 2012 02:41

Reducing Our Environmental Footprint by Repurposing Thanksgiving Discards

A time of abundance and a time to celebrate family, friends and good eats, Thanksgiving is also the holiday that produces a massive amount of waste, especially with leftovers that might sit in the refrigerator for a week before finally making their way to the dumpster. As we prepare to sit down and prepare to say gracias to all the good things that have happened in the past year, we can also express our gratitude to the bounties of our natural environment and aim to reduce our footprint on the environment by remembering the three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle.

Let’s start with our first order of business, the food. Consider buying only as much as you will use, in recyclable packaging if possible and with an eye for locally-sourced foods. Not into the Big Bird? Buy and roast a stuffed chicken instead, or encourage your guests to bring reusable containers to pack up leftovers that you then use for a warm bowl of turkey chili, easy-to-make turkey sandwiches for Black Friday—or Black Friday dinner. You can even start your own harvest with a backyard composting pile of fruit and vegetable peelings so you can feed the soil for the spring harvest.

With economic recovery still a big question mark, go for reusable decorations and set pieces rather than the elaborate, flimsy store-bought ones that get thrown out. Gourds, pumpkins and squash that you can cook later are money well-spent. And if you happen to live in a place that experiences the changing of seasons, pinecones, leaves, home-picked flowers and twigs in recycled cans make earthy and pleasantly-scented table that you can then recycle in the compost pile. As for disposables—skip the paper and use cloth napkins and serving ware you can wash. You’ll save money as well as save the environment.

Finally, before you fill up on $4-per-gallon gas to head to the nearest shopping outlet, consider turning those discards into thoughtful gifts. Not the crafty type? Eco Etsy (blog.ecoetsy.com) can help with upcycled gifts created from scraps and old tin cans. After all, it’s the thought that matters and Thanksgiving is the time to make it happen.
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