8 Ways to Green Your Holiday Celebrations

Ciera Holzenthal / Flickr

Americans spend billions celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and other annual, seasonal holidays. Wouldn’t you like that money to go back into your local economy? Here’s how you can buy locally, save some time, and give some love back to the planet during the holidays.

Grow and bake from scratch. Start an all-season garden in your yard. Produce like sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and pumpkins are in season from late-fall to early-winter in most of the country. Check out these organic pumpkin pie and rhubarb pie recipes. They're tasty, healthy, and fun for the whole family to prep and bake.

Shop at a winter farmer's market
. The growing popularity of winter farmer's markets means that much of your holiday meal can be found locally and in season. Buying locally not only puts money back into your region’s economy, but it also reduces your carbon footprint because the food doesn't have as far to travel. Use the USDA's national farmer’s market directory to find a market near you.

Look at labels. If you’re shopping at a regular grocery store, look for stickers and signage that tell you where your produce is from - and if it's organic - before you buy.

Decorate with deliberation. Make garlands and wreaths from leftover construction paper, wild berries, fruits and nuts. Craft homemade centerpieces from boughs, pinecones, and holly gathered in your yard or a local park. Brighten up doors and hallways with holiday greeting cards from previous years (a great reason to save them!). Trade decorations with friends or family to add a "new" flair to your home without having to buy new products. For lighting, use unscented candles -- have you checked out soy wax candles? -- and high-efficiency LED lights.

Cut down on waste. Opt for durable goods you can use season after season rather than throwaway plates, cups, flatware and napkins. Also consider providing clearly marked composting and recycling receptacles for guests.

Get an organic turkey. Gotta have that turkey? Know this: Almost all turkeys in America are raised on factory farms under crowded conditions that involve overfeeding with the aim of producing larger birds, faster. By contrast, an organic turkey is one that is raised humanely without antibiotics. Check out LocalHarvest to find an organic turkey farm near you or consider purchasing a heritage breed.

...Or go vegetarian. You and your guests won't miss out on the feast even if you opt to go meatless, and we’re not just talking tofurkey – check out these delicious vegetarian menus from Gourmet

Choose Green Spirits. A growing number of breweries and wineries are adhering to organic, environmentally-conscious practices and are working toward operating with 100% sustainable energy. Many parts of the country have local wineries that produce delicious, organic products each season. If local varieties aren't available to you, check out this green wine guide to help you make some tasty, healthy picks.

Have your own ideas for going green during the holidays? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.

Go back to the Holiday Green Guide main page




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Bill Burke

Don't forget -- a person can harvest their very own free range, organic wild native turkey in most states. They are excellent table fare and are very local with no human interactions needed except a fair chase environment.

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