Combine Gratitude with Green Attitude This Thanksgiving

9 ways to make Thanksgiving greener, more frugal from Bills.com

SAN MATEO, Calif., Nov. 19, 2008 – This year, Americans can express their gratitude at Thanksgiving by hosting a "green" holiday -- one that is eco-friendly, and also budget-friendly, said Ethan Ewing, president of free online consumer portal Bills.com.  

"Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in the United States, and with it begins six weeks of fun, feasts and festivities," Ewing said. "With its emphasis on being grateful for all we have, Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to make life greener -- and a bit more frugal -- in this time of economic turmoil." 

Ewing suggested trying one or more of the following nine tips:  

1)  Give back. While most Americans will have a more luxurious Thanksgiving than our forefathers celebrated when they arrived in the New World, some cannot afford to prepare a special Thanksgiving meal. Give to those less fortunate by partaking in a smaller meal and donating to or volunteering with an organization that provides a Thanksgiving meal for others.

2)  Go local. Celebrate gratitude for the local environment by exploring what local foods you can find. In New Mexico, enjoy local pine nuts instead of almonds in your stuffing. In the south, use in-season foods for dishes such as fresh pecan pie, mashed sweet potatoes and gumbo. In the northwest, take advantage of seasonal vegetables including beets, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Or find a quick refrigerator pickle recipe for locally grown cucumbers or bell peppers instead of buying prepackaged. See if you can select a turkey from a local farm (try your local natural foods market or visit localharvest.org to locate farmers). You will discover new pleasures and avoid the environmental pollution generated by trucking your food from distant locales.

3) Get out the good china. Or at least forego plastic and paper ware to reduce waste. If you are short on place settings, borrow (neighbors, family and guests usually are happy to share), or look on Craigslist, eBay or at thrift stores for extras you can reuse. By avoiding items that are particularly Thanksgiving-themed, you will be able to use them throughout the year – and if they are not breakable, even take them along to summer picnics and pool parties. For more napkins, make your own or purchase a stash of bandanas in colors you like from a hobby store.

4) Make connections. Help guests minimize vehicle pollution by carpooling. Connect guests who live near each other and suggest that they share a ride to Thanksgiving dinner.

5)  Decorate with reusable plants. Collect some attractive houseplants into an appealing centerpiece by gathering them in a large basket, bowl or even a box decorated with fabric or paper. Small plants chosen for the occasion could be given to guests as favors when they leave. Or gather a fall-themed bouquet from your yard, or ask guests to bring autumn leaves, berries or branches to build a centerpiece.

6) Go green with the drinks. Look into locally crafted wines and beers, or those made organically. Serve tap water instead of bottled water; make it more elegant with lemon or lime wedges. Choose larger containers to minimize waste.

7)  Do not overdo it. Cooking enough to feed an army will only result in waste if your "crowd" is more like a handful. Be realistic about what you will eat at dinner and what you can consume in leftovers. Send some leftovers home with guests, and freeze some to enjoy later. If you know you will have too much left, investigate your community to see if you can donate extras to a soup kitchen. Or invite other family or friends to share in a post-Thanksgiving weekend meal.

8) Combine cooking. Plan your cooking to use the oven all at once, rather than heating and cooling the oven many times over the days ahead of the meal. Heat up contributed dishes in an already-hot oven after you remove the turkey instead of firing up the microwave. Try cooking side dishes in a toaster oven instead of in the large oven.

9)  Wash it up. Resist the temptation to run the dishwasher with just a few items in it and run it only when full. And because using a dishwasher is usually more efficient than hand washing, no need to feel guilty about a stack of dishes on the counter -- let them wait for the next dishwasher load.  

"A greener Thanksgiving is easily within reach, and by taking it easier on the planet, you might find it easier on your wallet at the same time," Ewing said.   

About Bills.com (www.bills.com)

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. As the online portal to Freedom Financial Network, LLC, the company has served more than 40,000 customers nationwide since 2002 while managing more than $1 billion in consumer debt. Its RSS feed is available at /news_releases/

Bills.com holds the No. 257 spot on the Inc. 500 list for 2008, and the No. 3 spot on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Hot 100 list of the fastest-growing U.S. companies. Bills.com also was named a finalist as “most innovative company” in the American Business Awards in 2008. Company co-founders and co-CEOs Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh were named to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's "40 Under 40" list in 2008, and are recipients of the Northern California Ernst & Young 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.