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5 Ways to Have a Thoughtful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and fellowship with family and friends. This holiday season think about wasting less, focusing on quality time with your loved ones, and connecting with your community.

Here are 5 ways to have a more thoughtful, greener holiday:


Food waste contributes 8% of global carbon emissions. Reducing waste is one of the top things you can do to help the environment.

  • First, plan your meal. Think about how you might use your leftovers AFTER thanksgiving. Extra pumpkin could be used for muffins. Your turkey carcass can make an amazing soup for the family. Those extra mashed potatoes can be great in a breakfast burrito.

  • Store your leftovers in glass containers, not plastic. Plastic can leach chemicals into your food - especially in the microwave.

  • If you have non-perishable goods left over, you can donate to your local foodbank. Feeding America has a great tool to find your local food bank.

  • Think about adding more plant-based side dishes to your Thanksgiving meal. Consider the turkey as more of a "side" as opposed to the main course. Reducing your meat intake - or going meatless one day a week -- is the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 350 miles each year.

  • Compost together! Compost what you can in your backyard or find a local community compost for your veggie, fruit & coffee scraps.


This one is hard. A lot of our food comes wrapped in plastic -even flower bouquets!

  • Ditch the disposable cups and plates and get fancy and use real plates and cloth napkins. If you have fancy china taking up space in your cabinets, show them off.

  • If not, use your everyday dishes and add a simple, homemade centerpiece for fun. Check out this pinterest page for some ideas for natural centerpieces using twigs, branches, leaves, stones & flowers.

  • If any of your dishes have stories with them -a fancy candy dish you inherited or a quirky gift you received for a birthday or a wedding -- use them as conversation starters.

  • Many of us avoid using real plates because of the dreaded after meal clean up. Create a kitchen duty plan. Make it an intergenerational clean up team so everyone does their part. Time like this is often prompts sharing of warm memories and stories.


Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, reflection, and sharing.


Leaning into the concept of "experiences, not things" is a great start to your holiday season to avoid overconsumption.

  • Instead of shopping after Thanksgiving for "Black Friday" deals, plan some time outdoors. Go for a hike, a walk in your local park, or a nearby nature center. Use the hashtag #optoutside and #onegreenthing.

  • Share stories of resilience. Ask the young people you love about climate action. Let them know they aren't alone.

  • Plan a day to volunteer at a local food bank, shelter, or nature center.

  • Get outside with a scavenger hunt, an impromptu dance party, or football game.


Author Ursula K . Le Guin famously wrote "all you have is what you are, and what you give." Think about how you will share your gratitude this holiday season with your community.

  • Share a meaningful moment when someone helped you with a challenge. Carry that spirit forward with a random act of kindness like buying a cup of a coffee for a stranger, giving someone an unexpected compliment, or shoveling a neighbor's walk.

  • Develop your holiday volunteering plan to support your community.

  • Make a donation on Giving Tuesday, November 29th, the largest day of online global giving, to your favorite charity.

Quick Ideas for a Thoughtful Thanksgiving Based on Service Superpower:

  • Adventurers: Instead of shopping the day after Thanksgiving or "Black Friday," plan a hike, walk, or visit to a local nature center. Post a picture in nature and use the hashtags #optoutside and #onegreenthing.

  • Beacons: Make a plan for a random act of kindness - like shoveling a neighbor's walk, buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or giving someone an unexpected compliment -- to keep gratitude front and center this holiday season.

  • Influencers: Share the OGT "Be an Awesome Ancestor" Pledge and talk to your friends about embracing "long-term" thinking. It's time for us to start thinking of ourselves as ancestors.

  • Philanthropists: Make your plan for Giving Tuesday (November 29th), the largest day of online global giving, to donate to your favorite green charity.

  • Sages: Take the OGT "Be an Awesome Ancestor" pledge and download the intergenerational discussion guide. Ask the young people in your life about climate action and let them know they are not alone.

  • Sparks: Watch one of the award-winning films from the National Museum of the American Indian Native Cinema Showcase 2022.

  • Wonks: Take inventory of how much plastic surrounds your celebration and decide what you could eliminate, reduce, or reuse next year.


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