To me, Thanksgiving has always felt like the holiday with the greatest “green potential”. There are no gifts, costumes, candy or extra, elaborate frills. It’s simply about family gatherings, feasting on the bounty of the season and giving thanks for everything we have. There are so many ways to avoid over-abundance… (well, with the exception of over-eating!)
Everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.
Here are the things to keep in mind:
- Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead. You’ve probably already handled this task, but this rule goes for any gathering! And if you do need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
- Decorations – in many cases, you need only walk into your own backyard: leaves, acorns and twigs can be turned into amazing arrangements. Combine them with colorful gourds, Indian corn, squash and apples and you’ve just captured the season! Afterward, compost or add them back to nature.
- Food – visit your local farmer’s market for all of the most amazing produce. Go organic. Think acorn squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, apple and pumpkin pie! And seek out an organic, hormone-free, steroid-free turkey (if it will be a part of your feast).
- Drinks – serve organic drinks or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!
- Tableware and serveware – stop saving “the good dishes” and silverware! Use them! Glasses, cups and stemware? Get them out! Forget the disposable “anything”. You can even score inexpensive cloth napkins and table coverings at any dollar store.
- Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house quite quickly… and so do lots of people… so turn down the thermostat or, in warmer climates, keep ceiling fans circulating or windows open to keep the indoors comfortable.
- Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen. Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
- Don’t waste leftovers – keep only what you know your family will eat. Send the rest home with your guests. Start thinking about containers now (no styrofoam plates or plastic-wrap, please!). You can even ask guests to bring their own glass or ceramic dishware… why not?! And if you compost, toss in those food scraps.
- Clean-up – use your dishwasher, but make sure you fill it first. For the big jobs, you’ll need to use some elbow-grease, but be sure not to leave the tap running endlessly. And get out your green cleaners. You can get back to “shiny & clean” without harsh chemicals.
- Although it has nothing to do with being green… give thanks. Ask everyone at your table to share a thought. It will certainly put happiness in the air, and that’s absolutely free!
Now, if you need some of those ‘leaf, acorn and twig’ decorations I mentioned, email me… and then back up a truck… I have enough in my own backyard to supply your whole neighborhood!
I’m FINALLY back… Mom Goes Green just returned from a summer hiatus and a nice, long vacation at the OBX with my amazing family! We already miss the fresh ocean air every morning, noon and night. We experienced it all again this year… from dunes to surf, and sun to moon…
You probably already know that I didn’t leave my green principals behind. We conserved, we recycled and we simply enjoyed the purity of a beautiful environment.
Once again, after evaluating our trip, I feel no guilt. We were honestly conscious not to be wasteful. We made sure not to waste energy or over-consume — from turning off lights to waiting for a full dishwasher — and even purchased all of our usual organic food and earth-friendly products.
We recycled absolutely everything too. I am proud to say that, over the course of the entire vacation, we created only one small bag of trash… but the amount of recycling was certainly more substantial. Unlike last year (when my husband delivered our recyclables to the local recycling center!) we were fortunate enough to discover some recycling cans right outside of our condo. Yes, this was a relief for my husband and quite different than our Myrtle Beach vacation a number of years ago!
I also need to offer some green applause to a community that is wise enough to not only protect the natural sand dunes on the beach but also provide cans for recyclables. This is a view from our condo deck. See those two cans with the yellow lids? … yes, recycling cans. And the one small blue can? … yep, that’s for trash. But I think it’s very telling that there is more than twice as much capacity for recyclables than there is for trash. They acknowledge that there’s PLENTY that can be recycled and DOESN’T need to become trash.
The point is, no matter where we are, we CAN “tread lightly”. At home, on vacation, in everyday life, everywhere. There’s always an option, there’s always a choice. Make the right choice.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.
Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence. When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.
Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:
- Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
- Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.
- Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it! Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence. They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
- Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
- Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
- If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient. If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.
That’s all it takes. A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!
Mom Goes Green is always sharing ways to try to improve the things around you… your family’s daily life, your home, your community, our planet. But what about you? What’s a stressed-out and tired Green Mom to do?
Well, this weekend is a long holiday weekend for many of us. Why not take time for YOU (for a change!)? Here are three simple ways (with relatively earth-friendly twists) to naturally rejuvenate and leave the stress behind (even if only for a night!):
- Go ahead and splurge – take a bath and add some natural and organic bath salts. Studies show that the salts increase prolactin levels by up to a third and help in relaxation!
- Grab a cup of hot organic coffee or tea – it can actually trigger psychological warmth and pleasant feelings, even after only holding it for 10 seconds! For a natural antidepressant, add a nice spice… cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, you choose.
- Turn off the TV and read – stimulating your mind actually creates happiness. To be eco-friendly, borrow books from the library or a friend, make your purchase at a used book store or, for the avid reader, buy a Kindle or Nook.
There you have it… simple steps… and what it takes for a stressed Green Mom to shake the blues!
This weekend is the mother of all “picnic times!” The 4th of July picnics, parties, cookouts and celebrations will go on all weekend! (I know they will for us!)
But it can also be a time of excess, waste and lots and lots of traditions that aren’t green at all and it can leave you feeling a little blue!
So here is my list of things to keep in mind as you celebrate:
- Cookouts – skip the charcoal & lighter fluid and go for propane grilling. Even if you’re headed to a picnic area, you can prepare the grill items at home and bring them along. Did you know that newspaper is a great insulator for any containers and will keep your hot foods incredibly hot! (But remember to bring the newspaper home for recycling afterward!)
- Food – choose fresh, locally-grown, organic produce and meats. Whatever you can buy local, choose it!
- Coolers – no cheapo Styrofoam coolers… they may be convenient but they don’t last long, and after buying a few Styrofoam versions you could have actually owned a “real one” that you can use again and again and again!
- Dinnerware, flatware and serveware – if you’re at home (or even away), choose the reusables… just avoid throwaway plastics and paper at all costs. And if you are away from home scrape off the food scraps, bring home the reusables and wash ‘em! You can even go crazy and choose some compostables!
- Table covering – three words: CLOTH, not plastic!
- Containers – three more words: REUSABLES, not throwaways!
- Beverages – whenever possible, mix up big batches of beverages (lemonade, iced tea) and have a large container of water, and use (or bring) the reusable glasses or tumblers (again, no Stryrofoam or plastic, pleeeeze!). For those refreshing “adult beverages”, choose an organic and/or local brew and remember to…
- RECYCLE! – it goes without saying… bottles, cans, cardboard & paperboard… have a recycling can or container ready to receive it all!
Happy 4th of July! Celebrate your freedom and exercise your right to choose “green”… and add it to the red, white and blue!