With the Thanksgiving holiday less than a month away, it is a good time to think about ways to make a lighter footprint this season. Here are 8 simple ways to have a cleaner and greener Thanksgiving gathering.

1| Eco-friendly Centerpieces and Décor.

Farmer’s market flowers, gourds, and pumpkins, greenery from your own yard. There are so many great options for decorating your home and Thanksgiving table with environmentally friendly (and cost-effective!) materials. If you have crafty kids in the house, put them to work. The internet is full of great fall crafts that would make for lovely table display or home décor.

2| Use Soy or Beeswax Candles.

No holiday table is complete without candlelight.  Today’s battery-powered candles are a good, safe alternative.  If you choose to use the real thing, use natural soy, beeswax, or vegetable-based candles.  They are better for the environment, and better for you too.

3| Break out the Good Dishes and Linens.

While throw-away dishes and cutlery sure make post-meal clean-up easier, they are wasteful and poor choices for our environment. While there are recyclable and compostable options, for a greener approach, break out the good dishes and fabric napkins and tablecloths.  Your table will look fabulous and you will lessen your holiday’s waste considerably. 

4| Shop Local and Organic, When Possible.

With your holiday shopping list in hand, try to shop locally, and choose organic products, and produce when available. Thanksgiving is a great time to support local businesses that are green-minded, like you!

5| Plan Wisely and Minimize Waste. 

It is important to have enough food when hosting a gathering. It is also important not to have too much food. Use the Guest-imator, which is a great online tool to help you determine how much food you need to feed your guests. It even factors in room for some leftovers too!

6| Speaking of Leftovers. Use Reusable Containers. 

It’s great to be able to send some leftovers home with relatives and friends. Plan ahead and purchase inexpensive, reusable containers. It’s like two gifts in one.  Your guests have delicious leftovers, and one less meal to prepare. Best of all, they can use the container again and again in their own home.

7| Compost Kitchen Scraps. 

Thanksgiving meals give you all sorts of produce scraps, perfect for composting. If you do not compost, perhaps your guests do. If so, grab another reusable container and send them on their way!

8| Serve Local or Organic Wine.

With Virginia wine country in your backyard, consider serving or bringing local wine to your holiday gathering.  Or visit your local wine shop and choose a wine that is local and perhaps even organic. 

Holiday entertaining can be stressful. Often with the best intentions, it can be a mad dash to the special day, with lots of last-minute preparations. In the rush, we often overlook easy ways to have a greener holiday. Slow down and commit to being truly present this Thanksgiving. Take a deep breath, create a plan, and make your holiday entertaining greener, simpler, and more enjoyable. 

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