Tips to Host a More Sustainable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to, as the name implies, give thanks to your deity, to the Universe, or to your good luck for all the things—tangible and intangible—that you have. And part of that tradition involves getting together with friends and family to celebrate your good fortune.

One of the things you’re no doubt grateful for is this planet we live on. But, as everyone knows, the earth is in trouble, so here are a few ways to host a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration.

Cut down on waste

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food they buy every year. Translated to Thanksgiving, that means:

  • 172 million pounds of turkey
  • 14 million pounds of dinner rolls
  • 30 million pounds of gravy
  • 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes
  • 49 million pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 45 million pounds of green beans
  • 38 million pounds of stuffing
  • 35 million pounds of cranberry sauce

So when you shop, make a plan. Don’t buy more than you think your guests will eat. Get creative with leftovers using any of the thousands of recipes available online. 

Plan around plants

The meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, a major contributor to climate change. 

If you can’t bear to skip the turkey altogether for Thanksgiving, sustainable option can be to at least buy a smaller (preferably free-range) bird and make locally sourced fruits and vegetables the star of the show.

Ban the plastic

Plastic dinnerware and utensils may make for easier cleanup after guests leave, but they play havoc with the environment, especially the ocean.

And using real china, cutlery, and linen or cotton napkins creates a look of elegance you’ll never get from disposables. If this isn’t possible, at least use compostable dinnerware.

Share the bounty

If you do think you’ll have leftovers, ask guest to bring along their own containers so they can take the extras home with them.

Or donate the surplus to local food pantries. Feeding America and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Excess Food Opportunities Map can help you find a nearby food bank.

If you’d love to have an elegant place to gather your loved ones together for the holiday (or any other occasion), consider booking one of the large, beautifully appointed ballrooms available at the Historic Alfred I. duPont Building in downtown Miami.