As a company focused on bettering our communities and our planet, we love sharing ideas on how to lessen your waste during the holidays. With Thanksgiving meals being prepped as we write (literally, if you are doing the hosting!), here some guidelines for exactly how much food you should make for your guests thanks to FoodNetwork.com.
Our entire company is built on the idea of making a difference in the lives of others—it is what drives us to do what we do every single day. So, in honor of National Philanthropy Day (Nov 15), we wanted to share 5 ways you can be on the frontline of good in our community.
Teach a Child
Contact your local community center, library or school to inquire about volunteer tutoring opportunities. If you live in the Brooklyn area, checkout READ 718, a non-profit literacy center that provides after school tutoring and literacy workshops to low-income students in grades 4-8. Opening in January 2015, the center is currently looking for literacy tutors.
Serve a Meal to Others
While we automatically think serving food is the most important part of working in a soup kitchen, it is really about serving up dignity and respect for others. Places such as the Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen in New York have volunteer opportunities for food servers, guest greeters, table cleaners and even for folks to pass out haircut vouchers. You can sign up as an individual or grab a group and spend time giving back to your community while learning more about homelessness and hunger in your community.
Keep Your City Beautiful
Check with your city to see if there are any community-wide clean up days, organize your neighbors to create a community garden or take time to spruce up your own outdoor space. In New York, MillionTreesNYC provides free trees to property owners and gives you the opportunity to help plant trees in and around city parks.
Share Your Talent
Whether it is your smooth guitar licks or your ability to write a great story, sharing your talent with others is a great way to make a difference in the lives of your community neighbors. Seek out organizations and associations that offer classes and workshops such as the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA) which is currently looking for a volunteer to lead a knitting/crocheting class in Brooklyn.
Prepare for an Emergency
As noted during Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy, you can never be too prepared for an emergency. Work with local organizations to prepare emergency kits for others, get trained in CPR or use your knowledge (tax preparation, law, etc.) to provide assistance for those who are struggling to rebuild and recover from natural disasters. Visit NYCService.org to find volunteer opportunities.
Talk to us: How do you celebrate philanthropy?
image courtesy of flickr/BY CC 2.0
So this year, instead of heading over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, you have decided to host Thanksgiving at your place. Awesome–now what? If this is your first time hosting the big holiday gig, we have 4 things you need to know:
Make a Plan
Once you have determined how many guests you will have, create a menu and keep it simple. Thanksgiving is no time to try new, complicated dishes–stick to things you know and don’t be afraid to ask for contributions (see below). In addition to planning out the meal, you need to also consider things like event flow–especially if you are working in a small space. “You can do a beautiful party in a small space by utilizing all of your sitting areas,” says Debi Lilly. Consider where you would like guests to sit, where you want to set the food and even where people can grab a drink or cocktail. Click here for a complete Thanksgiving timeline and checklist.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Yes, you may want to try and impress everyone with your great culinary skills by making everything on your own, but don’t. TheKitchen.com suggests that it’s actually OK to be “shameless about delegating the parts of the meal that stress you out” so you can actually enjoy the day as much as everyone else. Choose a dish that you like to make and ask your guests to contribute the other dinner items. If you are going for a true potluck meal, make sure that guests sign up for what they are bringing so you don’t end up with a table of pumpkin pies and no vegetables (although, that sounds kind of good).
Clean the Kitchen
This may seem obvious, after all, who doesn’t clean up their home before guests arrive (pre-holiday hint: call us soon to get a deep clean before the holidays)? However, cleaning the kitchen is more than just wiping down countertops and sweeping floors. Prepare your kitchen for Thanksgiving by organizing your fridge and creating room for the ingredients and food you will need to keep cold (click here for a quick guide to cleaning your fridge). Gather all the cookware, platters and dishes you will be using–making sure they are clean and ready to go to work–and, empty the dishwasher. There is nothing worse than a counter full of dirty dishes after your celebration.
Take an Extra Day Off
While others may making plans for their big Black Friday shopping sprees, we suggest you take the day BEFORE Thanksgiving off from work and activities so you won’t be rushed. Use the time to clean your home, do a last minute grocery run and create any make-ahead dishes that you can. “You’ll have a head start on tomorrow’s madness — and you’ll also be less likely to waste Thanksgiving energy stressing over leftover work stuff,” writes FlavorWire.com. If you can swing it, take the day after Thanksgiving off as well so you can rest and relax.
Talk to us: What is the one dish you always have on your Thanksgiving table?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Kyle James
Are you ready for Thanksgiving? There are numerous things that may make you anxious about the big day, but one of them shouldn’t be how to keep it eco-friendly. Here is our checklist for things you should do now to have a happy and eco-friendly Thanksgiving Day:
Clean Your House
Even if you are not hosting this year’s big event, you will probably be entertaining guests at some point during this holiday season. Spend the weekend before Thanksgiving preparing your home for guests by doing a deep clean of every room where company will gather. Purchase eco-friendly cleaning supplies (or make your own with these ideas) and use this time as an opportunity to update supplies such as toiletries and linens as well clean items you may not use often like silverware. A paste of cornstarch and water will make silver look new again!
Don’t have the time to clean on your own? Hire a cleaning service such as GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning.
Buy Some Candles
We love this idea from actress, speaker and author Rachelle Carson-Begley: “Every Thanksgiving, we make it a point not to turn on the lights in the evening. We light candles around the table and all over our home.” Use unscented candles to avoid competing with the delicious food scents and consider adding candlelight to your outdoor space as well. You can make festive tin can luminaries for a porch or walkway.
Borrow a Roasting Pan
According to an article on Gaiam.com, “if everyone in the United States used a disposable roasting pan to cook their Thanksgiving turkey, there would be 46 million tinfoil pans heading to the landfill every year.” This year, borrow a heavy-duty roasting pan from a friend or family member or invest in one yourself. We promise you will use it numerous times during the busy holiday season.
“There’s a reason why traditional Thanksgiving food happens to be in season,” writes Alden Wicker. “That’s because the holiday celebrates the bounty the Pilgrims and Native Americans were able to gather together from their surrounding environment.” Use the items found in your current CSA harvest (that may include cabbage, kohlrabi, mixed potatoes, butternut squash and brussel sprouts) or find a local farm or farmers’ market that not only gives you local fruit and veggie options, but also has free-range turkey, fresh seafood and organic bakery items. Nonperishable items should be purchased the weekend before your event with fresh items bought the day before. Keep in mind that not all farmers’ markets are still open late in November. Checkout JustFood.org for a list of NYC market schedules.
There is no better way to connect with nature than being in it. If the weather cooperates, plan on having at least part of your Thanksgiving meal outside or organize a post-dinner outdoor game or family walk. In addition to getting yourself outside, bring nature inside by using what you find in the great outdoors as holiday decorations. Gourds, leaves, pinecones and fresh fruit or vegetables make beautiful table displays. Visit MarthaStewart.com for some really creative ways to decorate with nature.
Think about Your Leftovers
Who doesn’t enjoy a day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich? To make sure all your guests continue to feast on the literal fruits of your labor, ask them to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers and have them throw food scraps into your compost pile. Remember that meat and dairy products should not be composted, so keep the kitchen scraps to things such as potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce.
Be eco-smart if you must travel to your Thanksgiving dinner destination. Consider using alternate modes of transportation such as biking, walking or public transportation. If you must take a car, carpool with other relatives and make sure your vehicle is in good working condition including properly inflated tires—tires that are underinflated have a negative affect on fuel efficiency. Flying? Look for non-stop flights whenever possible—planes emit the most carbon on takeoff and landing.
Talk to us: How will you keep your Thanksgiving a bit more eco-friendly this year?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Keri Logan
Happy November! As we head into this month of gratitude we wanted to give our thanks to the 5 seemingly ordinary ingredients that are actually powerhouse cleaning ingredients. If you have these products in your pantry or underneath your sink, you are set to tackle almost any cleaning disaster that could happen.
Thanks to its gentle abrasiveness and odor fighting properties, baking soda is a main ingredient in numerous DIY cleaning solutions. Freshen linens and rugs, clean kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, even use it to get the onion smell off of your hands—this one ingredient is effective on its own or combined with some of the other great items on this list. Click here for ways you can use baking soda to clean.
We automatically think of using salt for its abrasive nature, but its chemical properties and high melting point make it a must-have all-natural cleaning agent. Salt can be used to clean cast iron cookware, absorb liquid from a carpet stain or to remove tarnish from silver. Just adding salt to almost any other natural ingredient pumps up the cleaning effect. Click here for things you can clean with salt.
When life gives you lemons…clean with them. Whether it is the actual fruit or just lemon juice concentrate, the natural antibacterial and antiseptic qualities of lemons make this an ideal member of your cleaning arsenal. Use lemons as a bleach, a degreaser, a glass cleaner, and an odor-killer. Click here for ways you can use lemons to clean.
Olive oil is a great product for hydrating wood or minimizing scratches and, when mixed with lemon juice, it makes a great furniture polish. We also use olive oil to shine stainless steel, fix a squeaky door and even clean grease or paint from our hands. Click here for more ways to use olive oil.
Just mixing one part white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle will give you a quick, all-around household cleaner that can be used for numerous tasks like wiping down appliances, cleaning your bathroom fixtures or shining up mirrors and windows. Click here for unique ways to use vinegar.
Talk to us: Tell us which ingredient you are thankful for when it comes to cleaning your home.