Celebrate with care! Discover tips and tricks for a more eco-friendly and sustainable Thanksgiving. From farm-to-table feasts to mindful leftovers, make your holiday both delicious and green.
Thanksgiving, a wonderful occasion for family gatherings and indulging in delectable feasts, is also a moment for us to be conscious of our environmental footprint. Amidst the joyous feasting, there often lies the potential for considerable waste, which we can actively mitigate to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly Thanksgiving celebration.
Embracing a sustainable Thanksgiving means acknowledging our responsibility to the planet and finding innovative ways to reduce the waste typically associated with this holiday. By adopting eco-conscious practices, we can savor the holiday’s essence while respecting the planet that provides us with the bountiful harvests we cherish.
As an indigenous woman, I feel like it’s even more important for me to have a sustainable Thanksgiving to honor my ancestors who took pride in caring for the land and being good stewards of the earth. They gave thanks for all they had every day and Thanksgiving can be a good reminder of that.
That’s why throughout this guide to a sustainable Thanksgiving, we will explore how to minimize waste and promote eco-friendliness at every step of your holiday preparations. From sourcing locally grown, organic ingredients to repurposing leftovers creatively, we’ll dive into numerous strategies that not only reduce your ecological impact but also enhance the overall quality of your holiday experience.
So, as you embark on your journey to a sustainable Thanksgiving, let’s ensure that the celebration of gratitude extends to the environment that sustains us all. Discover how you can embrace eco-friendliness and reduce waste without compromising the cherished traditions and flavors of this heartwarming holiday.
How to Have a Sustainable Thanksgiving
When it comes to sustainability we can often feel like we have to do it all or it doesn’t even matter. This can lead to a lot of burnout and make us feel guilty when we make choices that “aren’t perfect” and the truth is you can’t be perfect. Every choice has an impact. It’s not about being perfect it’s about being better and doing our best.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything on this list. You may not be able to due to finances, health, or other reasons outside of your control. That’s okay! This year just pick one thing from the list to try and that will mean your Thanksgiving this year will be more sustainable than last year and that’s great.
Source Local and Organic Ingredients
Purchase your Thanksgiving meal ingredients from local farmers’ markets and opt for organic products when available. Supporting local farmers reduces the carbon footprint associated with food transportation and promotes sustainable agricultural practices.
This also helps support your local economy. If you can’t afford organic or don’t have good local options try to shop at a local store, that can have a good positive impact as well.
Support Sustainable Turkeys
Select a sustainably raised turkey, preferably heritage turkeys or free-range, to promote ethical and environmentally friendly farming practices. A good way to do this if you don’t have a good local source is by shopping from Crowd Cow.
They source their meat from small farms and give you all the information you need about the meat to make the choice that feels best for you and your family.
Read More: My Full Review of Crowd Cow
Eat Less Meat
Eating less meat has a huge positive impact on the planet and our health. You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to make a difference you can just eat smaller amounts of meat.
The sides at Thanksgiving are often the best part so make them a bigger highlight. Fill your plate with veggie-based sides and have just a little bit of meat on the side.
You can also try having a fully vegetarian Thanksgiving. There are so many delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes you may find you don’t even miss the meat. This can also help you save a bit of time and money this Thanksgiving.
Plan Your Menu Mindfully
Create a well-balanced menu that reduces food waste. Ensure that your recipes align with the dietary preferences and portion sizes of your guests to minimize leftovers or know that you have a plan to eat those leftovers or use them in fun Thanksgiving leftovers recipes.
Planning is also a key here, using my Thanksgiving planner can help you create your plan and stick to it. I also recommend keeping the plan for the next year with notes on what worked and what you want to change.
Additional Resource: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Planner
Reduce Single-Use Items
Where possible avoid single-use, disposable items for your Thanksgiving meal. If you have a big crowd that may be hard but even if you do a mix of real dishes and disposable you can reduce the amount you are using.
Cloth napkins can actually be an easy option because it takes a lot of napkins to fill a load of laundry so that can be easier to deal with than multiple loads of dishes. You can also get affordable cloth napkins from local stores, make your own, or if needed Amazon has some affordable packs. I recommend going with a dark color so you don’t have to worry as much about stains.
Choose sustainable or reusable table decorations like cloth tablecloths and natural centerpieces that can be composted after the celebration. If you want to use other types of decor go with high-quality items you will use year after year and be sure to shop your own house first for things you can use that you already own.
Opt for energy-efficient cooking methods like using a slow cooker or pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot. This reduces energy consumption and shortens cooking times.
Also cooking multiple things in the oven at once can reduce the time you spend cooking and make better use of the energy you are already using.
Additional Resource: Instant Pot Thanksgiving Recipes
Composting and Recycling
Set up composting and recycling stations to manage food scraps and packaging materials responsibly. Make sure your guests are aware of these areas and make it really simple for everyone to use.
Encourage carpooling or the use of public transportation for your guests. Alternatively, host a virtual Thanksgiving celebration to eliminate travel-related emissions. A virtual Thanksgiving option is also great for disabled family members and those who have multiple Thanksgiving celebrations to attend.
Last but not least, Moms Clean Air Force wants to remind us to be thankful for the EPA for helping to give us clean air and shares some tips we all can use to help keep the air clean this Thanksgiving.