Simple ways to 'green' your holidays
This is a topic that I write about around this time every year because I think the message is so important.
It is estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste increases 25 percent. I want to share some easy ways to reduce waste, and help make your holidays earth-friendly!
If you are hosting a holiday meal or party at your home, please use real dishes, napkins, silverware and glasses. Your choice to use “real stuff” will not only drastically reduce the waste your party will generate, but guests will appreciate eating and drinking out of real items. In my opinion, eating Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner off of a plastic or paper plate with a plastic fork and knife is just not the same.
If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have enough stuff for all of my guests!” I have an idea for you: Head to a thrift store and pick up the extra items you need. Believe me, they do not need to match your existing sets and adding in items that don’t match provides a trendy shabby-chic style to your party, in my opinion. Last year for a party I was throwing I went to Savers and purchased a bunch of extra glasses. They ran me about $1 a glass. I have them boxed up in the basement, so this year I’ll just pull out the box and use them again! You can also buy inexpensive dishes and silverware at thrift stores.
Please purchase locally grown and/or organic food when possible. Locally grown and raised food reduces the carbon dioxide emissions from shipping foods in. Purchasing organic foods reduces the need for pesticides and toxic chemicals, and every time you do this, you “vote” for organic foods with your dollars. These chemicals, when used on conventionally grown items, are not only detrimental to your health, but they enter the soil, which eventually runs off into rivers and lakes. This time of year it is not as easy to find locally raised produce, but it’s still available. I have seen it at both Heinen’s and Whole Foods in recent weeks.
Furthermore, purchasing food and other items in bulk when possible reduces packaging waste (reducing your waste) and also saves you money. Also, please remember to bring your reusable shopping bags when shopping for the holidays! This is a simple step you can take to drastically reduce your waste.
It is estimated that 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year. This is equivalent to more than 100 pounds per person. If you are hosting holiday gatherings, it is important to estimate the correct amount of food to purchase so you don’t end up with too much or too little. General guidelines are as follows per person you are serving: 1 lb. turkey, ¼ lb. stuffing, ¼ lb. green bean casserole, and 1/8 of a 9-inch pie.
There are simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint if you are going to be traveling for the holidays. The first would be to turn off the lights in your home before you leave, and make sure your thermostat is turned down as well. It is also a good idea to have your car checked to ensure proper inflation of tires and that the air filter is clean; these actions will reduce carbon emissions if you are traveling by car.
When cleaning your house either before or after a holiday gathering, consider using non-toxic cleaners. Vinegar and newspaper works extremely well for windows, and baking soda with water is a great tub and sink scrub. Simple, non-toxic cleaner recipes are very easy to find on the internet.
Disposing of Waste
If you compost, please continue to compost even during this busy time of year. And last, but certainly not least, please make sure you recycle everything you are able. Plastic bottles and jugs, beer cans and bottles, wine bottles, food cans, etc. are all recyclable. If you have a question about certain items, go to cuyahogarecycles.org to find out how to properly get rid of them. And please remember, if you follow even just a few of my suggestions, your individual actions will make a difference!
I wish you all a very green and happy holiday season.