Tips for a More Sustainable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and a whole lot of food. As you are planning your Thanksgiving feast this year, join us in giving thanks to our planet and making Thanksgiving 2022 a little more environmentally friendly. Let’s start some new holiday traditions this year. Here are some tips to do your part in helping to save the planet and have a more sustainable Thanksgiving! Remember, every little bit counts.

1. Buy Local 

Hit up your local farmer’s market, neighborhood farm or community store. When you buy local, you are helping to lower carbon emissions by minimizing the distance that your food has to travel. This means fewer trucks on the road, less air pollution, and a lower need for fossil fuel. In addition, typically, locally grown foods are grown on smaller farms using more sustainable practices. By supporting your local farm, you are protecting local land and wildlife. Not only do you get fresher, tastier food, but you’re helping your local economy, workforce and the environment as well. 

 2. Reduce Food Waste 

Before you go shopping for your Thanksgiving meal, do a quick inventory of what you have, create a meal plan, do a headcount and make a list to only buy what you need. According to the EPA, “In the U.S., 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce it and creating many environmental impacts.” Food waste puts pressure on limited resources, accounts for greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change. While at the store, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – buy “ugly” fruits and vegetables that may get looked over. Be sure to compost anything extra to help extend the life of our landfills and save resources. And don’t shy away from leftovers! Invest in reusable glass containers with well-fitting lids and utilize both your fridge and your freezer. Nothing says the day after Thanksgiving like a sandwich of turkey and cranberry sauce! 

3. Travel Smart 

It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year. While we know it’s important to be together with friends and family, there are many ways to travel more sustainably. Consider traveling during off-peak hours to minimize time spent in traffic and lower carbon emissions. Reduce yearly travel and make a plan to visit Aunt Tilly every other year to offset your carbon footprint. If you must make that trip, rethink how you get there, consider carpooling, taking a bus or a train or more energy-efficient mode of transportation. If flying is your only option, fly direct instead of multiple flights and try to check in lighter baggage – every pound counts. 

4. Use Nature as Your Canvas 

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving meal, look outside your front door for some eco-friendly inspiration to make your home and table festive. Whether its pumpkins, pinecones, wood, branches or leaves – nature is the perfect way to decorate in a sustainable and biodegradable way. Forgo the gold-painted plastic pumpkins, honeycomb turkeys and silk leaves. Thanksgiving is the ideal time to bring nature indoors to appreciate the beauty of what’s around you. 

5. Eat Less Meat 

We know, we know. What’s Thanksgiving without a turkey? Did you know that eating less meat is one of the most impactful ways you can make a difference in the environment? The amount of land, water, feed and animal waste generated to bring meat to your table takes quite the toll on the environment. If you simply cannot go “cold turkey” this Thanksgiving, that’s ok. It’s not for everyone. Consider sourcing a locally reared, pasture-raised turkey instead of buying blind from a supermarket chain. Buy a smaller turkey and go heavy on the plant-based sides, you could even make turkey a side dish and rethink the main course! Don’t forget that those bones make for a delicious soup base for another meal and get creative with the leftovers. You may even make a promise to the planet to only eat meat once a week to do your part. 

6. Setting the Table 

There’s a great debate over which is more eco-friendly, using real dishes or disposable plates. While we don’t claim to have the answer, we can help either option become more sustainability friendly. If you opt for real dishes, save water, and don’t do the dishes. Loading your dishwasher to capacity is a more energy and water-efficient way to deal with the post-Thanksgiving feast mess than washing by hand. You may even consider foregoing the dry cycle for air drying. If you are hosting a large gathering and decide disposable is the route for you, consider steering clear of plastic and choosing compostable plates to help reduce waste in landfills. 

The road to a more sustainable future starts with each one of us. There is no time like the present to start doing your part in helping to create a cleaner and healthier planet. Remember, it’s not all or nothing. Every little bit counts in making a difference in our environment. Capaccio’s mission, “Helping Industry and the Environment Prosper,” is something we live by every day.  Join us this Thanksgiving by giving back to our planet in whatever way you can. 


  1. United States 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal | US EPA