How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner

November 19, 2018 by  
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Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family can be an overwhelming task. When you are providing a meal for a group of people, it is tempting to opt for things like pre-cut fruits and veggies, snack portions of cheese, store-bought pie and other modern conveniences to make it easier to get through the day. However, using these items can come at a price. When you buy things that are packaged in single-use plastic, it wreaks havoc on the environment. This year, instead of just focusing on eating all of the delicious food during the celebration, focus on the preparation, and commit to a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Here is how to do it. Choose recipes and menu items wisely A zero-waste Thanksgiving always starts with your grocery list, so when you are planning your Thanksgiving dinner, go through your recipes and choose menu items that will use up whole veggies and full containers of things like broth, cream or soup. For example, if you have a recipe that uses half of an onion, find another recipe that will use the other half. If you are using recipes that have special ingredients that you don’t use often, like buttermilk or fresh herbs, have a plan to use up all of these ingredients. If you aren’t going to use them entirely for Thanksgiving, do some research on how to store the items for the long-term, like freezing, or find some post-holiday recipes where you can use the remainder of the ingredients instead of throwing them away. Shop local Opting for the local farmer’s market to purchase your ingredients instead of a supermarket will get you off to a good start for a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Food at farmer’s markets is often unpackaged, and it is usually organic , meaning you can steer clear of harmful pesticide residue. If you do not have access to a local farmer’s market, choose a grocery store that sells unpackaged produce. Avoid buying anything that is already prepared. Whether you visit the market or the grocery, don’t forget your reusable produce and shopping bags to keep every step of your Thanksgiving feast free from waste. Cook from scratch When you are deciding on a menu, make sure to plan ahead to cook everything from scratch. If you have a small kitchen or don’t feel like you are going to have the time to cook everything on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members to each bring a dish. If you do this, get specific about what each person will bring, so you don’t end up with several green bean casseroles. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe If you don’t have the patience or time to plan out everything ahead of time, chances are you will end up with leftovers or unused items. If this is the case, throw some cooked turkey, veggies and herbs into some extra broth or stock and freeze the mixture to use later. You can also keep your scraps while you are cooking, and use those trimmings, bones and peelings for homemade stock. Encourage smaller portions It is very easy to load up your plate during Thanksgiving dinner and have food leftover, because you can’t eat it all in one sitting. To stop food from going into the trash, set out smaller plates and serving spoons to encourage smaller portions. You could also supply storage containers (or, better yet, ask guests to bring their own!) that your guests can use to package their leftovers and take home. Be sure to use real plates, utensils, glasses and cookware, and if possible, use cloth napkins. This will greatly reduce your Thanksgiving waste and keep your garbage can from overflowing. Make your own decorations Instead of purchasing Thanksgiving decorations from a store, get crafty and make your own centerpieces and decorations. You can reuse your Halloween pumpkins and other gourds for a beautiful centerpiece, or buy new ones to use as flower vases or candle holders. You can also use tiny pumpkins in place settings. You can cook or compost the pumpkins after the holiday. Be a gracious guest If you are not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, you can still be a mindful guest. Be prepared with your own reusable containers for leftovers, and avoid bringing dishes in disposable plastic containers or foil. Having a zero-waste Thanksgiving is all about intention. You can’t do everything all of the time, but if you have the mindset to start with one holiday, you can bring those ideas into your everyday life and start to really make a difference. Via Care2 , Mind Body Green and Sustainable America Images via Chinh Le Duc , Ja Ma , Pablo Lancaster Jones , Jess Watters , Priscilla Du Preez and Shutterstock

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How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner

5 tips for beautiful, sustainable Thanksgiving decor

November 16, 2018 by  
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November marks the season of Thanksgiving . With Halloween decor packed up and Christmas trimmings still in totes, it’s time to focus on unveiling the essence of Thanksgiving in your home. Shelves of decor line the store aisles, but many of those options contribute to the destruction of our environment. By making some small, conscientious decisions, you can reduce transport emissions, eliminate plastic consumption and give used items new life while giving your home the holiday flair you envision. While pulling together the look for your Thanksgiving decor, keep sustainability in mind with these tips. Emphasize natural elements The truly wonderful thing about the fall months is the abundance of natural materials you can find and use in your autumn decor. Skip the retail purchases and head outside for organic finds nearby. Curve those grapevines into a circle, and use this as a base for a fall wreath. Adorn it with the colorful red berries that dot the landscape this time of year, and embellish the wreath further with dried leaves or flowers, pine cones or nuts. You could even glue on small apples or pumpkins. Related: How to host Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny home or small apartment Similarly, the same materials can be used to create centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table or as seasonal decorations for your coffee table. Lay out pine boughs and top them with colorful gourds. Grab those still-firm pumpkins, carve them into a bowl and stuff them with fresh greenery. Use clear glassware, jars, vases or water pitchers to hold pine cones, leaves, berries, nuts or colorful rocks. Fresh citrus or apples make a gorgeous centerpiece when placed in simple clear or white bowls. Make a statement by placing a votive candle inside a carved-out mini pumpkin or apple. Set bottles around the house, and fill them with fresh-cut lavender, rosemary or mint. Surround that centerpiece with a eucalyptus ring. Your mantle is another perfect place to add some visual appeal. Thread together orange and red leaves to make a swag, and add small pumpkins painted different colors. Also, remember that Thanksgiving is represented by the colors and products of fall, so take advantage of hay bales, corn stalks and gourds to decorate your front porch. Avoid plastic Anyone who’s spent more than a few minutes considering steps toward sustainability knows that plastic is petroleum-based, which causes problems for the environment — and plastic never goes away. If you decide to purchase decor for your home, look for materials that are eco-friendly and will give you the gift of longevity, resulting in less waste. Find a wrought-iron turkey or hunt down ceramic pumpkins. Buy glass platters and real fabric tablecloths instead of the single-use versions. Upcycle With very little effort, you can find decor that allows you to reuse something that’s already been produced rather than buying new. For example, take those mounting canning jars and etch them with festive designs. Alternately, you could decoupage them with leaves. Fill with orange candles and display them on your mantle or table. Look around your house for a bucket or rusted watering can, and dress it up with bundles of wheat or corn stalks. Hit up the local thrift shop for table runners, used decor and themed dishware. While upcycling might involve plastic items and is not always a zero-waste initiative, the more life we can give to existing products, the less production pollution and post-consumer waste we will have — a win-win for the environment. Get crafty The long, dark evenings of fall are the perfect time to get crafty. Take the kids for a nature walk and collect acorns, leaves, twigs and other natural elements. Once you return home, glue the materials onto fall-colored paper, forming letters on each sheet to spell out, “Give Thanks,” or something similar. Punch holes in the top corners of each paper and thread yarn or rope through them to create a banner for your wall. Crafting can also overlap with upcycling. For example, paint a wine bottle, add a twist of twine to the top and embellish with words. Make a few and group them together. The kids can use toilet paper or paper towel rolls to make hanging turkey decor, place markers or napkin rings. Related: Six yummy, organic pumpkin recipes you can make for Thanksgiving! Turn food into edible art Most people associate Thanksgiving with food, and many would agree that food can be art. Why not give your edibles dual purpose by designing munchable masterpieces? Start with that cornucopia you’re dying to put out and fill it with candy, grapes, apples, pears, satsumas, chocolate, pretzels, bread or nuts. You can carve a watermelon into a boat or basket and fill it with fruit. Head over to Pinterest, and look for ideas that will transform your veggie tray into a turkey pattern. Don’t forget about dessert — make some cookie turkeys or cut out a leaf pattern from your upper pie crust. Remember that the goal is to express the spirit of the season, which is gratitude. Nothing shows gratitude for your home and yard more than using natural elements. Hosting a sustainable Thanksgiving also shows gratitude for the planet and those you love that live on it. Images via Shutterstock

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A dull, 26-year-old Airstream becomes a bright, cozy home on wheels

November 16, 2018 by  
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While they were dating, travel-loving couple Nate and Taylor Lavender bonded over their shared dream of tiny home living. Years after they met, the ambitious duo decided to bring that dream to fruition by converting a 1992 Airstream into a bohemian, light-filled home on wheels, renamed Augustine the Airstream . Today, the couple, along with their incredibly cute dog Summit, are enjoying the freedom of life on the road. The couple did most of the renovation work themselves , starting with the exterior. Airstreams are known for their shiny aluminum cladding, but Augustine’s nearly-30-year-old exterior had a dull, weathered appearance. To restore its luster, the Lavenders used two rounds of paint stripper before buffing and polishing it back to its shiny gleam. Related: A 1972 Airstream becomes a bright, 198-square-foot home for a family of four Renovating the Airstream ‘s interior, which was pretty shabby, was also quite an arduous task. Stripping the interior to the bone, the couple began to create a new layout that would work best for their lifestyle. They both work from home, so it was essential to create a work space and plenty of storage to keep the interior clutter-free. The couple decided to keep the interior’s color palette neutral with just hints of color. They painted the walls white and installed lightweight, peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring. To make the most of the compact space, Nate custom-built most of the furniture, including the booth table in the kitchen, the side table next to the sofa, a shelving unit and the bed frame. The best part of the tiny home is the kitchen, which was completely redone to create a simple and clean aesthetic. From there, Nate and Taylor added fun texture with a pressed tin backsplash and hanging plants. The couple also installed a working/dining cubical that faces the kitchen. A beautiful tabletop made out of reclaimed wood pulls double duty as a dining table and work space. A comfortable loveseat was placed in the living room, book-ended by a side table and shelving unit. The dark wood on the tables, along with colorful pillows and a pendant light, give the space a welcoming, bohemian feel. A free-standing fireplace creates a warm and cozy atmosphere during frigid winters. + Augustine the Airstream Via Dwell Images via Nate and Taylor Lavender

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7 tiny homes to get you in the Halloween spirit

October 31, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes are a popular trend that allows people to live simply and affordably. But just because they are compact spaces doesn’t mean there isn’t room to get creative. To get you into the Halloween spirit, here are seven homes and resorts that don’t need any spooky decorations, because each tiny home itself represents the holiday perfectly with whimsy, imagination and larger-than-life personality. Travel to space in the Lunar Lander If you have dreams of going to outer space , you will love this tiny home inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to the moon . Located in Central Washington at the edge of the Columbia River, this tiny house — named the Lunar Lander — is elevated on steel pillars for minimal site impact and is only 250 square feet. Naval architect Kurt Hughes designed and built this home using boat-building techniques and materials like plywood, epoxy and fiberglass. The result is a unique and futuristic tiny home that is also environmentally friendly. Take a trip to the shire in the Hobbit House This 170-square-foot tiny house on wheels has a circular front door and an ivy-clad roof that will make you feel like you are living in the shire . Located at the WeeCasa Resort in Lyons, Colorado outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors can choose to stay at one of the 22 tiny homes at the resort, but the Hobbit House is the most popular. The structure features handcrafted wood in the interior, plus a relatively spacious kitchen and living area. If you love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, this might be the perfect place for you. Visit an enchanted forest in these owl tiny homes Who would have thought you could build a house in the shape of an owl? These original wood cabins are located in Bègles, France. The tiny homes are designed to look like three owls sitting together. Full of whimsy and magic, each 160-square-foot home  is free to tourists and campers visiting the Bordeaux region. The dwelling operates completely off the grid; there is no electricity or water access, but there are enough beds for nine people. The idea is to promote urban hiking by offering free nights in shelters. The project is an initiative of Bruit du Frigo in collaboration with  Zébra3 , financed by Bordeaux Métropole and with participation of the hosting municipalities. Related: Artist transforms parents’ home into the ultimate monster house Sail the seven seas in this pirate ship This steampunk tiny house has a wooden ship’s wheel and a pulley system, and the owners said that it “grew out of the movies.” Chloe Barcelou and Brandon Batchelder work in film, and they wanted to build a tiny home on wheels that they could take anywhere in the country — wherever the film jobs were. The all-black home looks like a mix between a pirate ship and 19th-century stagecoach, and Barcelou and Batchelder also added a steel blue door and ornately stenciled steps for easy access. Live like a mermaid in the Nautilus House The tiny house trend has become insanely popular in recent years, but Javier Senosiain of Arquitectura Organica was way ahead of the tiny home boom when he built the Nautilus House in 2006. Located near Mexico City, Senosiain said that he used “bio-architecture” to design the home, meaning the form is based on a living creature. Senosiain went all out with his shell idea and used stained glass in an unexpected and gorgeous manner while creating a living room that doubles as an indoor garden . Experience a real life fairytale in The Boot There was an old woman who lived in a shoe … but now, you can live in this magical boot in New Zealand. Available to rent on Airbnb , The Boot is a tiny home with a huge personality. Despite its quirky exterior, this fairytale-inspired home is a romantic retreat complete with crackling fireplaces, chocolates, homemade goodies and a private courtyard designed for snuggling. It’s the perfect vacation spot for Halloween or Valentine’s Day! Go back to the Wild, Wild West in these covered wagons Travel back to the Wild, Wild West at the Yosemite Pines RV Resort . Offering the ultimate glamping retreat, these covered wagons can accommodate up to six people each. Nearby, guests will find a community fire pit and swimming pool; the resort also offers year-round outdoor activities. Nature walks, hayrides, outdoor movie nights and hiking take place in the fall, making this retreat ideal for autumnal enjoyment. Images via Kurt Hughes , WeeCasa Tiny House Resort ,  Zébra3 , B&C Productions , Javier Senosiain , Neil Smith and Yosemite Pines RV Resort

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7 tiny homes to get you in the Halloween spirit

Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween

October 29, 2018 by  
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Over the past few weeks, millions of people have bought nutritious, tasty treats that they won’t eat, and after Halloween, the majority will end up throwing them in the trash. Of course, we are talking about pumpkins. This week, billions of pounds of the delicious, edible and versatile squash will become  food waste instead of being cooked or composted. In the U.K. alone, eight million pumpkins will be in the garbage on November 1. According to The Guardian ,  this would be enough to make pumpkin pies to feed the entire country. Nearly 60 percent of people bought their pumpkins just to hollow out and carve. The #PumpkinRescue campaign said that only one-third of those people will cook the edible insides, and just over half of them will throw away the pumpkin flesh. Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) More than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins will be thrown out in the U.S., adding tons of waste to landfills. When we throw those pumpkins out, they decompose and release methane — a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change . In Canada, the pumpkin harvest attracts thousands of people to farms all over the country for hayrides and corn mazes. But farmer Rob Galey said that most visitors to his annual Pumpkin Fest won’t take pumpkins home to cook and eat. He explained that the visitors are buying a metaphor, not food. The pumpkin represents an abundant fall harvest and looks good in a photo, but it never makes it to the dinner table. Is our pumpkin waste ruining the environment? It’s certainly an issue, but the U.S. Department of Energy is working on the problem by teaming up with industry experts to develop integrated biorefineries, which are facilities that can efficiently convert plant and waste material into affordable biofuels. As of right now, none of the refineries are in full operation. In the meantime, keep enjoying your pumpkins . Carve them, decorate them and — after October 31 — eat or compost them to reduce the food waste. Via The Guardian , Vice , Pumpkin Rescue  and CBC News Images via Corey Blaz and Marius Ciocirlan

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Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween

Earth911 Podcast, Oct. 29, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Recycloween!

October 29, 2018 by  
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Earth911 Podcast, Oct. 29, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Recycloween!

6 tips for crafting an eco-friendly Halloween costume

October 19, 2018 by  
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It is hard to believe, but it’s almost that time of year again when sugar-hyped witches, ghosts, superheroes and princesses will be ringing your doorbell and asking for candy. Halloween is a fun holiday for many of us, but the celebration can easily become expensive and far from eco-friendly, thanks to the decorations, candy and greeting cards. Worst of all, the plastic-packaged costumes can also be an enemy of the environment as well as your wallet. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween goods each year, but you don’t have to contribute to the waste. Instead, keep this Halloween season as eco-friendly as possible with these tips for making a costume that will be a hit at your holiday party, but won’t crush your bank account — or the planet. Certified pre-owned Buying a brand new, expensive, cheaply-made costume is never necessary. Instead, there are a variety of ways that you can get a used costume that will work perfectly. You can visit your local thrift shop to find a used costume that won’t cost much, and reusing items is good for the environment. Related: 11 brilliant ideas for family costumes that will blow you away You can also get together with friends, family and neighbors and host a costume swap party. You can easily do this for adults’ or kids’ costumes, and it can give you some Halloween inspiration. Send out some electronic invites to your friends with details about bringing old costumes they have stashed. Then, enjoy an evening of mixing and matching costumes until everyone has what they need.  You can use different parts of old costumes to create something new, or swap for one that is already complete. Either way, it will help you avoid a Halloween mega-store. Look in your closet It is quite possible that something already sitting in your closet would be perfect for a costume. Striped, plaid or polka dot clothing works for a clown costume, a sheet works for a ghost and black clothing can easily turn you into a bat or witch. Do you have a formal dress or suit in your closet? Get dressed up and add a white sash to the outfit with the word “apology” written on it, and you can go as a “formal apology.” Do you have some old medals from winning competitions in school? Put them all around your neck, grab some loaves of bread and be a “breadwinner” this Halloween. With just a few items, you have an entire costume that costs you next to nothing. Makeup and face paint Instead of buying an overpriced plastic or rubber Halloween mask, use makeup that you already have or non-toxic face paint to create your look.  You can even make your own DIY makeup by mixing cornstarch, solid shortening and natural food color. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has other face paint recipe options, while Smart Mama has a  recipe for fake skin . There are tons of tutorials online to help you with this project, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how it turns out. Raid the recycle bin and watch what you throw away There are many things that we throw in the trash or into the recycling bin that can be used for Halloween costumes and decorations. Cardboard boxes and soda bottle caps can be the beginning of a robot costume; soda can tabs can become chainmail sleeves on a Monty Python costume ; cardboard boxes and paint can turn you into a Tetris game piece; plastic cups, cardboard and paint can transform you into a LEGO character. Related: 10 ingenious Halloween costumes made from recycled junk Work uniforms Do you have a friend or family member that delivers pizzas? Or maybe you know someone who is a Subway sandwich artist. Anybody who wears a recognizable uniform to work can be the source of your next Halloween costume idea. Just ask them to borrow it for a night and add a special detail or two — like food service gloves or a pizza delivery bag — and you will be the life of the party. DIY treat bags If you are going trick-or-treating, you will need to add an eco-friendly candy bag to your Halloween ensemble. From reusable shopping bags to duct tape, there are many ideas out there — including 14 from The Spruce Crafts — that you can easily make so you can avoid the cheap plastic candy bucket. A little bit of craftiness and creativity can go a long way during the Halloween holiday season. All it takes is using resources like items in your closet, the recycle bin and your real-life social network to avoid spending a ton of cash while keeping the celebration eco-friendly. Via Sierra Club , Boston.com and Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes

October 12, 2018 by  
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However conscientious you are in daily life, holidays have a … The post Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes

Recycling Programs Debate: Mandatory vs. Voluntary

October 12, 2018 by  
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Recycling Programs Debate: Mandatory vs. Voluntary

Halloween’s Over, Compost Your Pumpkin!

November 2, 2017 by  
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