10 Ways to Enjoy a Green, Non-Toxic Holiday
Its obvious consumers around the world are getting smarter about going green, and are looking to buy more environmentally friendly and sustainable products. We’re also growing more aware of the waste we’re creating each year, and trying to cut back on the amount of things we’re throwing out.
As I’m sure you know, the holidays can be especially wasteful times, traditionally. I mean, we buy all that food, get all those decorations, and when it’s all over, a lot of it ends up going into the trash. We also have to be aware that some of the foods we buy, especially if they’re processed, may contain potentially harmful chemicals.
If you’re one of those who cringes at the thought of all that waste, here are some tips to help you still enjoy the holidays, but without the guilt and potentially harmful toxins!
- Use what you have. Before you go shopping, check your pantry and refrigerator. Maybe you didn’t have “rice” on the menu, but since it’s in your cupboards, why not use it? Find a holiday recipe that employs some of the things you already have on-hand, and you’ll not only cut back on waste, but save money, as well.
- Become a leftover lover. One of the things we all love about holiday dinner is the leftovers, right? But how many times do you throw about half those leftovers away? People get tired of sandwiches. This year, think ahead. Find recipes for soups, sandwiches, casseroles, and other items that will keep your leftovers tasting fresh for weeks after the big day. If you know you’re not going to use it all, consider donating to a food bank or nearby homeless shelter. Last but not least, be sure to store food only in safe plastic containers—read more here, at “Toxic Talk: How to Choose Safe Plastics.“
- Coordinate cooking times.How much energy do you use cooking up the food? If you have more than one dish that can be cooked at the same temperature, try cooking them at the same time to save electricity. Take some of your other items out (like butter) so they’ll be soft and won’t need so much melting time.
- Choose a healthy turkey. Industrialized farming has mass-produced animals that have a narrow gene pool, and may increase the risk of diseases and other health issues. Heritage farming use practices that help retain the natural state of the turkey’s genetic heritage, which tends to produce a better result for your body. Look on the heritage turkey directoryto find a breeder near you. Then, look for turkeys that are certified organic or certified naturally grown to be sure they haven’t been treated with antibiotics.
- Go organic.Just like your turkey, you want your fruits and vegetables to be as free of potentially harmful toxins as possible. Buy organic when you can, especially for berries and other fruits that are not peeled.
- Consider vegetarian. Not thrilled about turkey? You can go with a vegetarian option made with pumpkin, like a pumpkin and sage pasta, or a vegetarian Thai pumpkin curry. You can find a lot of other vegetarian and vegan options as well with a little research.
- Go local.Anytime you can get local produce, you’re cutting down on global waste. Buying local cuts back on transportation. Look for sweet potatoes, pumpkins, onions, and other holiday veggies from area farmer’s markets, or even farms where you can pick the items yourself.
- Recycle. Don’t forget to recycle everything you can! Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum containers. Also consider using a compost bin. Put your fruit and vegetable trimmings in that to cut back on waste, and to enrich your garden soil in the spring.
- Make your own decorations.To cut back on waste in your decorations, make your own. If you have children, let them take over! Colored construction paper can be cut or folded into shapes, like pilgrims, turkeys, and harvest items, and you can recycle the paper later. Baker’s clay can also be made into holiday decorations—just be sure to use non-toxic paints. Autumn leaves and gourds can also make great centerpieces.
- Clean up with non-toxic cleansers. I’ve got ideas here for you on my post, “Make Your Own Non-Toxic Household Cleaners.” The main idea is to avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and the like.