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Thanksgiving is more than just an opportunity to spend quality time with family; it is also a time to express gratitude for all of the wonderful gifts in life, such as the farmers, farm laborers, cooks, and food service workers who help to make the holiday (and every meal) possible. While we are at it, it wouldn’t hurt to also give thanks to the earth by making a few small changes in our Thanksgiving and December holiday preparations. Here are a few easy tips you can use when getting ready for the holiday madness:

  • Remember your reusable bags when you go grocery shopping.

You might do this already, in which case you’re doing a great job! But before Thanksgiving and the many holiday events in December, chances are you will be taking a lot more trips to the grocery store. Keep your reusable bags in your car so you don’t forget them on one of your many trips!

  • Avoid unnecessary food packaging when possible.

If you have a choice between prepackaged and bulk Brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes, go for the bulk veggies. Not only does picking out your own vegetables save on packaging, but you also have the ability to buy exactly how much you need so there is less wasted food. (Unpackaged vegetables also tend to cost a bit less.)

When packing up leftovers for guests to take home, avoid using plastic baggies. Instead, use reusable containers that you won’t mind never getting back. You can buy cheap containers, or even better, save up plastic sour cream, whipped cream, cottage cheese and lunch meat containers ahead of time to reuse after the big dinner. Also, never be afraid to ask guests to bring their own containers for leftovers; that way you know they end up in the right hands.

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  • Don’t use paper or plastic cutlery, even if you have a big crowd.

I know, after a long meal all you want to do is toss the dishes to the side and take a nap. But plastic dinnerware is not the answer. Why not make it a point to do the dishes with your family? The more hands involved, the quicker you’ll get to that football game—or that nap. Or you could think of a game and create some friendly competition to see who gets stuck with the chore (and if you were the main cook, you’re exempt).

  • Carpool to your Thanksgiving destinations.

If you’re anything like me, your family lives a bit too close for comfort, but that isn’t always a bad thing. We often carpool if we’re all going to the same place, or we walk to each other’s houses if one of us is hosting the event. You don’t have to live close to each other in order to carpool, though. If you are going past a relative’s house, why not pick them up on the way? Even if you have to take a bit of a detour to get there, it’s better than driving two or more separate cars.