Giving thanks sustainably

Giving thanks sustainably

As Thanksgiving approaches, menu planning, trips to reconnect with family and friends, and Black Friday shopping lists can be front-of-mind. We propose shifting your perspective to slow down and simplify this year. Since this is a holiday based on gratitude, why not start from a place of feeling abundant and plentiful? When we recognize everything we already have, it’s easier to think about ways to reduce our impact on the planet.

Here are five tips to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving that begins with a mindset focused on the plenty all around us:


Explore your local farmer’s market

There are so many beautiful fruits and vegetables grown locally! Buying local food means fewer food miles, which in turn means lower greenhouse gas emissions. Conventionally grown food travels roughly 1,500 miles from farm to plate, compared to just 50 miles for local products. And smaller local farms typically use more sustainable farming methods like using compost as a natural fertilizer.

Ditch the disposables

With so many different dishes being served and with so many people at the table, Thanksgiving dinner can turn into a big pile of dishes. So, it’s not uncommon for regular plates, cups, napkins, and silverware to be swapped with disposables. But this is a special occasion that deserves the fine china or grandma’s heirlooms! Sure, it’ll mean a little extra time at the sink, but it’s also a time to reflect on the memories of other special dinners and events where you’ve used the extra-special plates and silver.

Grow what you throw

Every Thanksgiving, Americans throw away over 200 million pounds uneaten turkey. That’s a lot of food being wasted. Compost your table scraps this year and turn what would be wasted into fertilizer for future food instead.

Create a holiday gift list that’s not about stuff

Instead of waiting in long lines on Black Friday or placing orders on Cyber Monday that involves lots of packaging and delivery miles traveled, consider creating a holiday gift list focused on services, experiences, or time. Treating those you love to a spa service, a dinner out, tickets to a concert, or a gift certificate to babysit may be more meaningful than stuff. Your friends and family will be touched, and the earth will be thankful as well!

Avoid the food coma and get outside

Many families like to celebrate Thanksgiving Day by watching a movie or a sports game on TV together. Try mixing it up this year and get outside for a while. Take a walk with your loved ones to a nearby park, enjoy some pre-dinner snacks on the front porch, or play frisbee or football in the crisp autumn air. Getting outside and embracing nature is a great way to give thanks to the earth!


Deep breaths everybody – Thanksgiving can be a time to slow down and truly give thanks. And embracing just a few of the above changes amounts to a much bigger impact for the planet!