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It’s Easy Being Green: What We’re Thankful For

SOURCE: Flickr/henry alva

The oil left over from making a deep-fried turkey can easily be turned into biofuel.

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Each year Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to consider the important things in life. At dinner many of you probably give thanks for your family and friends, the fact that you avoided a TSA airport groping, and the anticipation of a well-earned tryptophan food coma.

This year, why not give thanks to some successful green initiatives as well? Here is our list of six green ideas that we’re thankful for this year.

1. Farmers’ markets. Thank you local farmers for encouraging greener eating practices. Cities across the country are embracing the benefits of buying and eating locally. Not only will your food travel shorter distances to reach you, thereby reducing emissions and fossil fuel use, but smaller, family-owned farms have notoriously better farming standards as well. Many are organic and/or pesticide free. Use this map to find a farmers’ market near you.

2. Deep-fried turkey. We’d like to thank the millions of turkeys cooking in vats of hot oil for all they do. Deep frying a turkey may sound like a giant bucket of trouble but it provides an easy opportunity to be green because you can recycle the oil used in frying the turkey into biofuel. Biofuels in are important because they can play a direct role diversifying our energy sources, creating jobs in rural communities, and cutting our dependence on oil. There are even ways to make your own biofuel, though proper attention must be paid as this can be a dangerous activity.

3. Bikes. Thanks to the bicycle and the many cities worldwide that celebrate its use. While you may not want to get on a bike right after your fourth plate of Thanksgiving dinner, the benefits of biking still merit strong appreciation and consideration. Biking cuts back on traffic, emissions, and fossil fuel use, and it also directly benefits fitness and health. Skeptical? You don’t even need to go out and buy your own bike to see for yourself. Across the nation cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., have introduced successful bike-sharing programs. And getting around on a bike is super easy with Google’s online bike routes.

4. Green hotels. If you spent 12 hours at the airport and missed your flight home, we apologize. But be grateful for the existence of green hotel options. Check out the “Green” Hotels Association for a list of hotels around the world that follow environmentally friendly practices. If your hotel isn’t as green as you’d like, here’s a list of practices for you to suggest, or even do yourself, such as keeping the same towels and sheets for the duration of your stay. It cuts down on water use.

5. LED holiday lights. Holiday time inevitably brings out the illuminated cornucopias, stars, and reindeer you otherwise keep stashed in a hidden closet in the basement. Thankfully, several green options are available for illuminating your abode, lawn, or wherever else you like to string up lights. LEDs are the lights of the future and operate at 80 percent efficiency, making them 60 percent more efficient than the ordinary and soon-to-be-retro incandescent bulbs. Plenty of options exist for your LED holiday lighting needs. LEDs are also becoming a large part of daily life and replacing inefficient bulbs with LEDs in your home and community can really help reduce energy use and emissions.

6. Green tax rebates. Finally, a big thanks is due for federal tax credits and deductions for energy efficient products and vehicles. Being green saves you money on your monthly bills and it returns some dough at tax time. The federal tax credit will vary depending on what you purchase and when you purchase it, and the product must be certified. Credits can be applied for biomass (wood burning) stoves, storm windows and doors, solar water heaters, and more. For more information, including how to apply for these credits, see here, and state by state information can be found here.

This list is by no means exhaustive. But we hope it provides you with a few more ideas to be thankful for this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving, and as always, thank you for reading and being green.

Read more articles from the "It’s Easy Being Green" series

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