When I think about being green, eco-friendly or earth-minded, I don’t just think about being kind to the environment. Sure, I think about conservation, preservation, and about embracing a lifestyle that embodies sustainable living; but I also think about simple things individuals can do to make the world a better place.
It is in that spirit that I offer these eight great green ways to express thankfulness as we head into Thanksgiving week:
- Go all natural with your hostess gifts and decorative accents
Gourds, pinecones, pine needles and colorful leaves, intentionally arranged can make festive centerpiece. And, with these fun freebies, finding them is half the fun. These aromatic, easy-to-make fire starters make wonderful hostess gifts.
- Buy fresh, local and seasonal food for your holiday feast.
See what Alexandria's farmers markets have to offer. Stop in at Market Square on Saturday morning between 7 a.m. - noon or the Del Ray Farmers' Market between 8 a.m. - noon for tasty treats and in-season vegetables. And, take advantage of your last chance to shop the West End Farmer’s Market for the season this Sunday between 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Ben Brenman Park.
- Make a commitment to a cause.
Non-profit organizations typically see a surge in donations and volunteer participation in the month of November and through the holiday season. But, once the new year rolls around, much of that support fades. This year, select an organization to which you can make an ongoing commitment of either time, money, materials or some combination so that they can benefit from your support throughout the year. For volunteer opportunities, visit Volunteer Alexandria. Also visit ACT for Alexandria to explore ways that you can get involved around town.
- Give, give, give!
While many people increase their financial giving this time of year, giving can take many forms. Give away books, toys and clothes that are collecting dust in your home. Schedule a pickup by a non-profit through Good Donor. It’s as easy as completing an online form, checking the list of acceptable items from various organizations, selecting a date, then packing and waiting for the pickup. You can also donate to some items to homeless shelters or post them on Freecycle.
- Adopt a new sustainable practice.
Get yourself removed from direct mailing lists to reduce your junk mail. Buy a push mower. Pitch paper napkins and paper towels. Set up a bird feeder for birds who overwinter here (Wild Bird Center on Duke Street has a terrific selection!). Get involved with Eco-City Alexandria.
- Take a hike - literally!
The colors this time of year are absolutely brilliant! The cool temps mean that you won’t easily overheat. Get out and connect with the natural world. Some of my favorite nearby hiking spots include Dyke Marsh Preserve, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Turkey Run, and Daingerfield Island.
- Shop Small Businesses on Nov. 24. American Express is encouraging shoppers to shop local small businesses on Nov. 24 as a way to support local communities and small business owners. Get details. The Old Town Boutique District shops and other local stores are offering Friday, Nov. 23 Black Friday specials. Get details and map your shopping trip now!
- Brag about it! What ever you do to contribute to the greater good, brag about it. This stuff is contageous. Everyone loves a great feel-good story. Your good deeds just might inspire another. So, don’t be shy. Talk it up!
Have a fun, festive and filling Thanksgiving!