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It’s that time of year when you start to reflect on everything you have to be grateful for. It’s a time for family and friends to gather together, give thanks, and eat tons of amazing food. We usually take the time to thank whomever slaved over Thanksgiving dinner, but if it weren’t for Mother Nature, we would be without. So, it’s important to show our appreciation and give back to the environment this year.

Large gatherings can result in a lot of unnecessary waste, from the turkey down to those cute little decorations we all love. We can give back to the environment by reducing this waste as much as possible. Here are 5 ways you can host a waste-free Thanksgiving dinner:

Plan ahead


You can begin to eliminate Thanksgiving waste by planning ahead. Make a shopping list with your number of guests in mind, and always remember to check your pantry for any ingredients you may already have.

Try to find recipes with fresh ingredients only. If you can’t resist candied yams and absolutely need marshmallows, be a little adventurous this year by making some from scratch. If you are pressed for time and need to purchase some packaged items, look for packaging that is either compostable or recyclable when you shop.

Before you leave your house, make sure to pack your own reusable shopping bags and containers as needed (more on this later).

Buy package-free food


When you are ready to shop, take a look around the perimeter of your local grocery store. This is where you can find the freshest foods that are likely package-free. Some grocery stores also carry bulk food items such as nuts, spices, and flour that you can fill your own waste-free containers with. Be sure to check with the store manager about their policies on bringing your own containers.

If you are wondering how on earth you are going to find a turkey without any packaging, don’t worry, there are options! The best place to check would be a local butcher, as you may have better luck using your own container there. If you have minimal mouths to feed, consider selecting pre-carved pieces. This will eliminate future food waste and make it easier to pack in your own container.

Purchase beverages in bulk


Who doesn’t like some beer or wine to go along with their feast on Thanksgiving? Buying drinks for all of your guests can generate a lot of waste, though, so consider purchasing growlers of beer or wine to cut down on individual cans and bottles. Growlers can be reused and repurposed.

Consider your decor and table setting 


Decorating your home is always the best part of the holidays. Try using what you already have and resist the urge to buy more decorations. You can even get creative with some natural fall foliage!

Now is also a great time to pull out that pretty china and silverware you never get to use. Couple it with cloth napkins and towels, which are always a great way to avoid waste and look much better than paper.

Save leftovers and compost scraps


Even with extensive planning, leftovers seem inevitable. If you want to save some food for later, remember to pack them away in reusable containers and forgo pesky plastic bags, plastic wrap, and foil.

Finally, be sure to compost food scraps from dinner prep as well as leftovers you are unable to save or send away with someone. You can find some great information about composting on the EPA website.

Whether you are hosting a large or small dinner this year, these five steps will certainly help you to enjoy a waste-free Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Every little bit counts!

Reduce your impact this Thanksgiving by choosing clean energy for your home or apartment. Sign up for free today at ArcadiaPower.com.