thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not about stuffing your face and unbuttoning your pants to allow your stomach that extra inch of space. Nor is it about wasting oodles of food, paper products and energy. Shocking, I know. The renowned holiday is really about being thankful for what you have, family and good food prepared with care — and consciousness.

It’s easy to overlook that last part. We’re all hurried and rushed, and spend most of our holiday prep time thinking about meal presentation rather than preparation and clean up. The following tips, ideas and general advice can help you stay conscious this Thanksgiving. Enjoy the day and take pleasure in knowing you did everything in your power to produce a sustainable meal!

Thanksgiving Day Preparation

Get it Done in One Trip

Make your list, check it twice, and have your mom look over it so she can remind you of that one item you will inevitably forget. Getting all of your holiday shopping done in one trip will save gas, wear and tear on your car and time.

Break Out the Good Dishes

Don’t use plastic utensils or paper plates, and cook with reusable containers and pans. Sure, dish washing is a chore, but these  “convenient” dishes create a ton of waste. Use cloth napkins, too. Also, post meal clean up can be done with a homemade, green cleaner and an old towel.

Recycling Garbage

Recycle every last plastic container, cardboard box and wine bottle.

Compost!

Put plant waste, coffee grounds and tea bags in your compost pile.

Decorate with Nature

Fill clear vases with pinecones, acorns and colorful leaves and use as an earthy centerpiece. Popped open your organic wine bottles already? Take the corks, carve a small slit in the cork, and place a piece of paper with a guest’s name to create unique, upcycled place settings.

The Meal

Use the Whole Turkey

That expensive free-range, organic turkey gave its life to feed you and your family and friends — you better use the whole thing. Kathy Bechtel of Italian Food, Wine, Health and Fitness has a great post dedicated to how to use the entire bird.

Use Organic and Local Veggies

A no-brainer, but easy to forget if you’re in a rush at the store. Try to buy fresh rather than canned. Use traditional Thanksgiving food (cranberries, yams) and make unconventional side dishes.

Meat-Free Meal Options

These awesome holiday recipes are vegetarian-friendly. Serve as this year’s Thanksgiving entree (the butternut squash gnocchi looks amazing — and it can be made vegan) if you and your family don’t eat meat, or serve as unique side dishes to complete your turkey.

image: nappent