It is just about the start of the holiday season. Did you know that according to RecycleWorks, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is the time when household waste increases by more than 25 percent? A great way to be more mindful as well as thankful this holiday for all the good things in your life is to simplify and green your Thanksgiving.

Here are 5 simple ways to thank Mother Nature for all the gifts she gives you every day:

Food shop local and organic as much as possible. Your local farmer's market or CSA is a great way to start. Buying local fresh foods means you are cutting down on the carbon footprint of your food and by choosing organic you are reducing the amount of chemicals and pesticides used in growing the food. Go one step further and make this Thanksgiving dinner a vegetarian meal or if Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without the turkey, choose a free-range local heritage bird.

Don't go disposable. Especially if you are expecting a large crowd for dinner, it is very tempting to use paper products for place settings and tinfoil pans for cooking to make cleanup a lot easier, but all of that trash is just going to end up in our landfills. Instead use china and cloth napkins and invest in or borrow a heavy-duty roasting pan. For the inevitable bottles and cans that come with entertaining, set up plainly visible recycling bins so your guests know what to do.

Ask guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers. Sending home leftovers on heaping paper plates wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap also can add to the holiday waste count so this year have everyone plan ahead by bringing their own containers.

Cut back on food waste. According to Worldwatch Institute, in the United States we waste about 40 percent of our food. You can imagine that at holiday feasts, those numbers probably increase exponentially. Composting any food scraps from prepping the meal and any unwanted leftovers can help reduce food waste, but so can donating leftovers to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Better yet, do both.

Decorate nature's way. Instead of expensive and usually non recyclable holiday decorations, use nature's gifts like acorns, leaves and pinecones to make festive decorations and place settings.

Make this Thanksgiving the holiday you really give back in a meaningful way.

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