7 Strong Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal

7 Strong Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal

When everyone is gathered around the table this Thursday, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’re enjoying an eco-friendly Thanksgiving meal?

We’ve developed 7 simple ways you can make this Thanksgiving greener than those in the past. We’ll start with your grocery list, and then give you other suggestions to put you well on your way to a greener Turkey Day!

1) Buy Locally Sourced Food


7 Strong Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal
Shopping local means trying new foods that might be outside your comfort zone – but they’ll be tasty!

Challenge yourself this year and try to cook at least 75% of your meal from foods grown in your area (or at least the state you live in). It really is possible!

Local farms grow pigs and turkeys, while others harvest beautiful squash, pumpkin and other veggies this time of year. If you’re in Texas, pecans are in season for your pecan pies, and folks in the northern US enjoy in-season cranberries for fresh cranberry sauce.

Eating local means food travels less of a distance to arrive at its destination. This saves on transportation costs and fuel emissions, and it also doesn’t require refrigeration for as long. This alone saves energy in the larger scale of staying green.

Head to your local Farmer’s Market and give thanks to the families bringing you such wholesome foods each week. Be proud that you know the faces of the folks who grew and produced the food for your Thanksgiving meal !

2) Bake Pies and Dishes in Reusable Pans

There are so many beautiful pie and casserole dishes out there to choose from, so why not bake your pies this year in handmade pottery or ceramic ones? Even if you’re heading over to a family member’s house, present your pumpkin pie in a beautiful dish. You’ll save money on buying those disposable aluminum ones, and feel better about not adding to the landfill.

3) Cook Multiple Things in Your Oven at the Same Time

Take a look at the lineup of dishes you’re cooking. Do any of them cook at the same temperature? If so, put your dishes into the oven at the same time, and save on energy this way. Even if one is cooking longer than the other, set your timer and figure out how much longer the second dish needs to cook.

4) Put Food Scraps Onto the Compost Pile

With all the potato and sweet potato peels likely to be left over from your meal preparation, don’t throw these easily compostable scraps in the trash can. Things like turkey bones cannot be composted, but egg shells, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps certainly can.

5) Put Out a Recycling Bin

7 Strong Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal
It’s important to separate your recyclable material into the correct piles.

People who don’t recycle a lot aren’t in the habit of separating landfill trash from recycled trash. Put out your recycling bin (create one with a wastebasket) and clearly label it for recycling. Encourage your family and friends to toss glass, plastic, and paper into this bin as opposed to the regular trash can.

6) Share Your Leftovers

7 Strong Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Meal
Yes – this sandwich looks tasty, but do you REALLY want it eat it for three-plus days AFTER Thanksgiving?

There’s nothing more wasteful than throwing away good, edible food. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our bellies, but if you’re a family of two, are you really going to eat that entire turkey for leftovers? By about day three, we bet you’ll be a bit burned-out on turkey sandwiches and the like.

Be generous this year. Share your leftovers with the folks coming to your home for Thanksgiving. Be even more eco-conscious and ask them to bring their own Tupperware containers to put the leftovers in. This saves using extra plastic baggies, aluminum foil, and extra plastic wrap. If your visitors aren’t interested in taking home leftovers, consider contacting your local food bank to donate your excess there.

7) Turn Your Turkey Carcass into Stock

Bone broths are loaded with minerals and nutrition. Rather than tossing out the turkey carcass, place it into a large pot with a gallon of water, one chopped onion, a few carrots and some celery. Slow simmer for 5-6 hours, and you’ll have delicious, gelatin rich broth! Broth can be frozen in freezer bags for up to 6 months and used to make sauces, gravies, and soup.

On the day we give thanks for all that we have and are grateful for, be sure and step outside into the great outdoors and give Mother Nature a big thank you, too!

What ideas do you have for an eco-friendly Thanksgiving meal? Share with us in the comments!


Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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