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Five Steps to a Greener Thanksgiving : How to Have an Eco-Friendly & Relaxing Holiday

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Families and friends across the country will gather to express their gratitude for each other. Whether you are traveling across the country or enjoying some quiet time at hope, we hope your holiday is filled with joy. We hope you enjoy our simple suggestions on how to have a greener holiday.

Here are a few suggestions to create a greener, more thoughtul holiday.


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

  • Skip the disposable cups and plates. 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.

  • Create a simple, homemade centerpiece for fun. Check out this pinterest page for some ideas for natural centerpieces using fall leaves, flowers, twigs & branches.

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

  • Create a kitchen duty plan. Make it an intergenerational clean up team so everyone does their part and so you don't have any stress about skipping the disposables. Down time washing dishes and cleaning up often prompts sharing of memories and stories.


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

  • 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.

  • Make a plan for your leftovers.Think about how you might use your leftovers AFTER thanksgiving. Those extra mashed potatoes can be great in a breakfast burrito. That leftover pumpkin could great in a pumpkin spice latte. Check out this recipe from the kitchn. Your turkey carcass can make an amazing soup for the family.

  • 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.

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


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


  • 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.

  • Lean into the concept of "experiences, not things." It's is a great start to your holiday season to avoid overconsumption.

  • Share stories of resilience and overcoming challenges. Let the young people you love know about you've witnessed social change and the work you've done to make life better for others.

  • 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.

  • Make a donation on Giving Tuesday, November 28th, the largest day of online global giving, to your favorite charity.

  • 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.

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 28th), 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 2023.

  • 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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