6 Ways to have a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

zero waste thanksgiving

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6 Ways to Have a Zero Waste Thanksgiving | Having a Zero Waste Thanksgiving or at least low waste is a great way to introduce friends and family to the zero-waste world. I love Thanksgiving,  of course, I love any reason to get together with the ones I care about for a good meal.

We all dream of the bountiful smorgasbord of food all year long. I have so many wonderful memories of Thanksgiving, sitting around stuffing ourselves until we basically pass out, going for afternoon hikes with cousins, and playing board games (only approved games considering we had to ban some a few years back – cough, cough – Monopoly. Seriously, that game is brutal, right Adrian? I know you’re reading this.

After the meal and the dishes, the men would yell at the TV thinking the football referees could hear them while the women would sit out on the porch drinking coffee and eating dessert. It’s such a wonderful day.

As far as waste? Well, my family never really made a lot on Thanksgiving considering the real plates, glasses, and silverware ALWAYS came out. The only waste I ever recall is the paper napkins. However, I know all of our family gatherings are different so I have a few tips to help ensure the waste is at the absolute minimum whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or merely attending.

6 Ways to Have a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

Last Revised: October 30, 2020

6 Ways to Have a Zero Waste Thanksgiving


Bring your own “To-Go” containers


Even though Grandma always seems to save those plastic butter containers ( seriously, Grandmas are the OGs of Zero Waste Thanksgiving)  for this kind of occasion, we can avoid the plastic altogether by just bringing our own.
If you are hosting, you could even ask your guests in advance to bring one. Don’t bring just one, though – bring many. Seriously, you fill up your fridge with a week’s worth of Thanksgiving leftovers! Mmmm…
Related: 30 Useful Ideas for Plastic Storage Containers

Skip the foil and plastic wrap

Wax Wraps replace disposable cling film or plastic wrap

When transporting your side dishes, use reusable covers like beeswax wraps, silicone toppers, use a large towel to wrap up your dish furoshiki style, or just set a plate on top.

If you are hosting, use real plates, silverware, napkins, and glasses


Come on now, it’s a fancy occasion! Get out the real stuff! Don’t worry about the dishes, family always steps in to clean up. 

Encourage guests to compost their scraps


Related: How to Avoid Food Waste on Thanksgiving
Hide the trash can and instead, set out a bucket labeled “Compost”. Even write up a list of approved items that can be dumped. As for items with animal products, put that in a separate container. Since animal products shouldn’t go into your garden compost, bury them instead.

Opt for plant-based sides

Encourage guests to bring plant-based sides or prepare them yourself. Eliminating more items containing animal products will help reduce the waste that mass factory farming produces.

Think twice about the turkey

Again, meat consumption is a terrible contributor to waste and greenhouse emissions. Is turkey really necessary for your get-together? There are several other wonderful alternatives that would still elicit that Thanksgiving cheer. If the turkey is non-negotiable, consider supporting local, free-range, organic turkeys. There are at least a dozen local farms near me that sell them every year.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not, may you have a wonderful holiday and weekend! Stay thankful for those you care about, for your health, for your wit, and most importantly, for mother nature! How do you have a Zero Waste Thanksgiving?

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