By: Carin Tunney

For many, Thanksgiving marks the start of the spending season. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American household spends about $1,000 over the holidays between gifts, decorations, travel and festive foods.

But if you serve a slice of sustainability with your holiday meals, you can trim the fat without feeling like a Grinch.

Here are eight simple ways:

  • Make it a glass act. Use glass and ceramic dishes to bake. They hold heat better, and recipes often suggest you can lower your oven temp when baking with glass.
  • Zap it! or (use your slow cooker). Your microwave and other small appliances can cut cooking time and energy.

Don’t believe us? Check out this video! ->> We put the stovetop, slow cooker and instant pot head-to-head to see which is the efficiency hero of hard boiled eggs.

  • Put the savings in the bag. The roasting bag, that is. These bags reduce cooking times and make clean-up less of a chore. And some would argue, they make a juicer bird.
  • Don’t peek! Every time the oven door opens, the oven temp drops around 25 degrees. A closed door keeps your oven from working harder than it needs to.
  • Put your dishwasher to work. If you have an energy efficient dishwasher, use it. Dishwashers are about five times more efficient than hand washing. Consumer Reports says you can skip the pre-rinse with newer models if you’re washing dishes right away, and those savings add up to 6,000 gallons of water a year. Want more savings? Let your dishes air dry instead of making your dishwasher do the work.
  • Who’s coming to dinner? Don’t cook for an army unless they’re sitting at your table. The average family throws away $1,500 of food each year, and Thanksgiving is a big day for food waste. Rather than toss, split and freeze leftovers for readymade meals. And if you don’t like cranberries, give them their marching orders.
  • Plan to chill after dinner. Make sure to let your food cool before putting it in the fridge or freezer. Not only will it cut down on energy use, it might lose nutrition value if you put hot food directly in the fridge, according to nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood.
  • Free the bird. If Tom Turkey is an unwanted guest, don’t invite him to dinner. Research suggests a 16-pound turkey has the same carbon footprint as a half-dozen sides. You could pile on veggies, sauces and pumpkin pie and live more sustainably. Still not convinced? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation estimates that 172 million pounds of turkey trots off to landfills each Thanksgiving.

We are focused on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. Follow us for ways to live more sustainably and learn how our Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet and Prosperity – commits to help the planet. You can also read more about our efforts in our Clean Energy Plan.