In this column, staff at the Center for EcoTechnology offer advice on easy ways for people — and businesses — to introduce green changes in their daily lives. We've had plenty of practice doing this: For the past 37 years, CET has helped people and businesses in Massachusetts save energy and reduce waste. Look out for this column every two weeks, and send your go green questions to We look forward to hearing from you!

Q: Thanksgiving is upon us. I'm hosting some friends and family. I read your article about what to do ahead of time; now I need some tips for reducing waste, saving energy, and ideally saving some money on Turkey Day.

A: Good news: we've got some suggestions to help you green your Thanksgiving in a stress-free way. Let's start with cooking. Here, we can use the power of science to reduce your energy use, which will help your utility bills. If you're cooking something in a pot on the stove, keep the lid on — it traps the heat, which means using less energy, and it will cook faster. If you are trying to heat up some sides, and are heating multiple dishes, go ahead and use the oven. If you're only trying to heat one dish, consider using a microwave or a crock pot, which use a lot less energy. If you do use your oven to heat multiple dishes (or the turkey), make sure to keep the door closed to keep the heat in.


You can use the window and briefly turn on the interior light to keep an eye on the food. By the same token, don't have your guests keep opening your refrigerator to fetch drinks. Keep them in a cooler or bucket full of ice. You can also use colder outside temperatures to cool drinks on a porch or deck.

Q: Well, that helps with cooking. What about cleaning up?

A: You may need to do some dishes by hand (the roasting pan from the turkey, or a gravy boat), but using your dishwasher is more efficient than hand-washing everything. Make sure you fill it up and use just a normal wash cycle, and let them dry normally as opposed to engaging a hot air drying feature. Also make sure you provide your guests with clearly labeled containers for recycling and trash. If you don't compost at home, you should check with your local transfer station — they may take compostable items for a small fee.

When it comes to leftovers, package them but don't immediately put them in the fridge. Let them cool so your refrigerator doesn't work harder to cool them down. You can keep them for yourself (freeze them if you won't eat them for a few days) or send them home with relatives. If you have unprepared food items you wish to donate, you can locate a local food pantry through Whatever you do, just don't throw it away!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CET!