eco-friendly thanksgiving ideas

Celebrating Thanksgiving Sustainably: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Feast


Thanksgiving is a cherished holiday in the United States, a time when families and friends come together to express gratitude and share a bountiful meal. In my experience, I’ve found that the traditional Thanksgiving feast can be quite resource-intensive and environmentally impactful.

However, I’ve also learned that with a few mindful choices, you can transform your Thanksgiving celebration into a sustainable and eco-friendly event that gives thanks not only for the food on the table but also for the planet we call home.


1. Reduce Food Waste


Thanksgiving often leads to overindulgence and excess food that goes to waste. Planning portions carefully and finding creative ways to use leftovers is a practice I wholeheartedly embrace.

  • Planning my menu based on the number of guests and their preferences can help you avoid overcooking.
  • Try turning leftovers into delicious meals like turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, or vegetable frittatas.
  • Using airtight and non-toxic food storage containers made of glass will help you keep leftovers fresh for days.


sustainable thanksgiving tips


2. Reusable Tableware


Choosing reusable tableware over disposable ones is a sustainable choice I appreciate. It not only reduces waste but also adds an elegant touch to my Thanksgiving table.

  • Investing in Thanksgiving-themed, durable and reusable plates will help enhance your table setting.
  • Cloth napkins in fall colors or patterns are a charming addition to my table, and I find them to be a more sustainable alternative to paper napkins. Be sure to choose napkins made of natural fibers such as cotton or linen. They’re not only durable but also biodegradable and unlike polyester, they don’t contribute to microplastic pollution.
  • Whenever you use disposables, opt for biodegradable or compostable tableware to align with your eco-friendly values.


03/06/2024 10:51 pm GMT


3. Decorate with Natural Elements


Embracing the beauty of nature when decorating for Thanksgiving is a practice I truly enjoy. Using natural and sustainable decorations like pumpkins, gourds, and fall leaves enhances the festive atmosphere while reducing your environmental impact.

  • Arranging a centerpiece using a collection of colorful gourds, mini pumpkins, and seasonal flowers will add a rustic charm to your table.
  • Crafting homemade garlands from dried corn husks or bay leaves can become a creative tradition in your household.


eco-friendly thanksgiving ideas


4. Eco-friendly Candles


I’ve always loved the ambiance that candles create, and choosing eco-friendly options like beeswax or coconut oil candles aligns with my commitment to sustainability. Traditional paraffin candles, in my opinion, pale in comparison because they’re made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and release toxic chemicals when burned.


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5. Locally Sourced Food


One of the most impactful ways to make your Thanksgiving sustainable is by choosing locally sourced food. Purchasing food from local farmers and markets not only supports the community but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation. When you buy local, you’re directly investing in the sustainability of your region.

  • In my experience, visiting the nearby farmers’ market or joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program has allowed me to source fresh, seasonal produce.
  • I like to look for the “locally grown” label at my grocery store to ensure I’m supporting local farmers.
  • Exploring heirloom vegetables and heritage breeds of turkey, which can often be found at local markets, adds a unique touch to my Thanksgiving menu.


sustainable thanksgiving tips

6. Reduce Plastic


I’ve found that avoiding single-use plastic items like straws and water bottles is a simple yet impactful way to reduce plastic waste during Thanksgiving. It aligns with my commitment to minimizing plastic pollution.

  • Providing guests with reusable water bottles or offering water in pitchers with glasses has become a standard practice in my household.
  • Opting for reusable straws made from materials like bamboo, stainless steel, or silicone has made a noticeable difference in plastic waste reduction.
  • Setting up a designated recycling station to ensure that plastic waste is properly sorted and recycled can become a conscientious routine.


03/07/2024 08:06 pm GMT


7. Energy-efficient Cooking


Cooking a Thanksgiving meal can consume a significant amount of energy. Reducing your carbon footprint by using energy-efficient cooking methods is a simple yet impactful step towards sustainability.

  • I use my slow cooker to prepare side dishes like mashed potatoes or stuffing, as it uses less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Using the oven for multiple dishes at once is also energy-efficient. You can cook your turkey and roast vegetables at the same time to reduce cooking time and energy usage.
  • I also make sure to turn off appliances when not in use and unplug them altogether to save on standby power consumption.
  • Consider upgrading to Energy Star-rated appliances for long-term energy savings.


eco-friendly thanksgiving tips


8. Composting


Before we delve further into sustainable Thanksgiving practices, let’s take a moment to understand the scale of waste generated during this holiday in the USA. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw away an estimated 200 million pounds of turkey meat during Thanksgiving.

That’s a staggering amount of food waste, and it doesn’t account for the leftovers, vegetable scraps, and packaging waste generated during the holiday. By adopting sustainable practices, we can make a significant impact in reducing these numbers.

Setting up a compost bin is an eco-friendly way to dispose of food scraps and vegetable peels, a practice I wholeheartedly endorse. Composting not only diverts waste from landfills but also creates nutrient-rich soil for my garden.

  • Use a kitchen countertop composting bin to collect scraps and empty it into a larger compost bin in your backyard. Some small composters can even fit under the sink for easy access.
  • Make sure to compost only food scraps and biodegradable materials, not meat, dairy products, or fats, as they attract pests and slow down the decomposition process.
  • You can also add leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste to my compost bin to create a balanced mix of food waste and carbon-rich materials.


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9. Local or Organic Wine


When it comes to beverages, I like to serve local wines or organic wines from sustainable vineyards. Conventional vineyards can use pesticides and require significant water resources, whereas organic and local options often have lower environmental impacts.

  • I enjoy exploring local wineries or vineyards in my area and learning about their sustainable practices.
  • Wines with organic or biodynamic certifications have become my top choices, as they reflect environmentally friendly cultivation methods.


eco-friendly thanksgiving ideas

10. Outdoor Celebration


Weather permitting, hosting my Thanksgiving meal outdoors is a delightful and sustainable option to embrace. It will allow you to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of the season.

  • Setting up a picnic-style Thanksgiving in a nearby park or your backyard, complete with blankets and portable seating, can help create memorable experiences.
  • Using solar-powered outdoor lights or lanterns to create a cozy ambiance as the sun sets adds an enchanting touch to the outdoor celebration.
  • Incorporating natural elements into your outdoor decor, such as pinecones, acorns, and fallen leaves, can enhance the rustic charm of the setting.


03/07/2024 07:41 pm GMT


11. Transportation Planning


Thanksgiving often involves travel as friends and family gather from far and wide. From my perspective, considering carpooling or using public transportation is a practical way to reduce the carbon emissions associated with multiple vehicles on the road.

  • Organizing carpooling among guests to minimize the number of vehicles will not only reduce your environmental impact but also strengthen the sense of community.
  • Encouraging guests to stay overnight or for an extended weekend, when feasible, can also be a great way to reduce additional travel.


12. Donate Excess Food


If you find yourself with surplus food after your Thanksgiving feast, try donating it to a local food bank or shelter. Food insecurity is a pressing issue in many communities, and your contribution can make a significant difference.

  • Researching local food banks, shelters, or organizations that accept food donations and understanding their guidelines has made the donation process seamless.
  • Using airtight food storage containers to ensure that donated food remains fresh and safe for consumption is a crucial step.


13. Homemade Gifts


Rather than buying store-bought gifts, I enjoy making homemade gifts or purchasing eco-friendly, locally-made products for my loved ones. It’s a heartfelt way to show appreciation while supporting sustainability.

  • Creating homemade gifts like scented candles, knitted scarves, or personalized recipe books will allow you to infuse your personal touch into each present.
  • Supporting local artisans and businesses by purchasing handmade, sustainable gifts such as handmade soap, beeswax wraps, or organic skincare products strengthens your connection to the community.


Read More: Best Eco-Friendly Halloween Tips


14. Minimalistic Approach


In the spirit of gratitude and simplicity, I’ve found that adopting a minimalistic approach to Thanksgiving resonates deeply with the essence of the holiday. It allows me to focus on what truly matters: spending quality time with loved ones and expressing gratitude for the blessings in my life.

  • Limiting the number of decorations and focusing on creating a warm and inviting atmosphere with meaningful touches has made my Thanksgiving gatherings more intimate and heartfelt.
  • Encouraging guests to bring a heartfelt story or message of gratitude to share during the meal has added a deeper layer of connection to the celebration.
  • Embracing the idea of less being more and prioritizing experiences over material possessions has enriched my Thanksgiving experience in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.


15. Post-Thanksgiving Cleanup


After the festivities, disposing of waste responsibly is essential, a step I consider crucial in maintaining the sustainability of my Thanksgiving celebration. Ensuring that all waste is properly sorted for recycling and composting minimizes the environmental impact.

  • Labeling bins or containers for recycling, compost, and trash makes it easy for guests to dispose of waste correctly and has streamlined the cleanup process.
  • Coordinating with local waste management services to understand their guidelines for recycling and composting ensures that waste is disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • Hosting a post-Thanksgiving clean-up crew to ensure that nothing is left behind fosters a sense of shared responsibility for maintaining the sustainability of the celebration.


16. Support Sustainable Brands


When shopping for ingredients or products, I’ve learned to choose brands that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Supporting these companies not only aligns with my values but also encourages responsible consumption.

  • Looking for food products with certifications like USDA Organic, Fair Trade, or Non-GMO Project Verified should become a standard practice in your grocery shopping.
  • Choosing household and kitchen items from brands known for their sustainable manufacturing and ethical sourcing will allow you to align your purchases with your commitment to sustainability.
  • Researching companies that are committed to reducing their environmental impact and supporting their initiatives will help you support responsible business practices.


waste free thanksgiving tips




Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude, and what better way to do so than by showing appreciation for the planet that sustains us? From my perspective, by implementing these sustainable Thanksgiving tips, I’ve been able to reduce my environmental impact, minimize waste, and create a memorable and eco-friendly celebration.

I’ve learned that small changes can make a significant difference, and my commitment to sustainability can inspire others to join in the effort to protect our planet. This Thanksgiving, I invite you to not only give thanks but also give back to the Earth that provides us with so much.

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