Planning Your Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Weekend

Are you guys ready for Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season? Yeah, me either. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, and while the 2017 holidays will be very bittersweet for me, I'm choosing to focus my efforts into the things I love. I'm so ready to put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving!

I've got some fun content planned out for the holiday season - be sure to come back the week after Thanksgiving to check out some new holiday shopping gift guides! I'm so excited to share some eco-friendly and fair trade gift ideas for anyone on your list.

But first, let's talk about how to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving.


If you're hosting a Thanksgiving gathering, whether large or small, start by planning out everything you'll need. As you make your shopping lists, remember the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Think about how every item on your list can fulfill one of those criteria.

As you pick up your groceries, choose a local grocery store or neighborhood farmers market. Choose items that are as minimally packaged as you can find. For example, buy loose sweet potatoes instead of ones on a Styrofoam tray and wrapped in shrink wrap. Use fabric produce bags at the grocery store, and of course, use cloth shopping bags.

Skip the stacks of disposable plates, bowls, cups, cutlery and napkins. If you're having a smaller gathering, simply use your regular dinner and drinkware and utensils. If you're having a larger gathering, stock up in advance on nonbreakable reusable dinnerware. You can find lightweight reusable plates at many stores, and then keep them in storage when you don't need them.

In-laws using reusable plates, glasses and silverware for Thanksgiving 2016.

If you don't have many cloth napkins on hand, look for fabric around your home that you can repurpose. If you're casual, consider cutting squares out of old T-shirts to make napkins. Visit a thrift shop to see what napkins they may have, then give them a good wash before your guests arrive.

This might be one of the weirdest sentences I've ever written on this blog, but make your own ice (instead of buying bags from the grocery store). Keep a spare bucket in your freezer (bonus points if you have a deep freezer) and fill it up in the few days before your gathering, so you have a larger supply.


If you ask guests to bring a dish, ask them to bring it in a reusable container, instead of disposable foil trays or anything covered in plastic wrap. And use reusable serving dishes yourself!

Provide pitchers of water next to reusable cups, or use a drink dispenser to hold ice water for guests. This will save you money on buying a case of plastic bottled water, and you'll have a lot less waste at the end of the day.

Offer drinks that come in recyclable containers. If your city doesn't accept glass in recycling, choose drinks in cans instead. Pick up liters of soft drinks instead of individual bottles.

Skip the plastic straws, or keep them only for guests who specifically request or need a straw.

Have a clearly marked recycling bin available for guests to use. It's always helpful to list what items should go in the bin, so guests don't have to wonder if something is okay to throw or not.

Run the dishwasher once it's full to help maximize its efficiency.

When it comes time for leftovers, use glass containers instead of disposable plastic ones. If you plan to send guests home with leftovers, repurpose plastic containers that you won't need back. Don't purchase brand new disposable containers!

Now, onto Shoppingpalooza...


Ah, Black Friday. The day many people throw what they're thankful for out the window and hunt down the best deals. Black Friday has become synonymous with the shopping frenzy and excess of the holiday season, but you can still be mindful and eco-conscious while shopping.

I love this post I wrote in 2015 showing the different levels of how eco-conscious you can be for Black Friday.

Plan your stops to make your trip as efficient as possible.

Be mindful of your shopping. It's awesome to find great deals, but it's not a great deal if you wouldn't have bought it otherwise. Purchase what you need (for yourself or those on your holiday shopping list), but don't go overboard with things you don't really need. You'll just spend 2018 getting rid of it.

Bring all of your cloth shopping bags so you can skip the plastic.

Choose emailed receipts instead of paper if you're given the option.

I wrote about this in my Times of Acadiana column last week, but it's becoming more popular to skip shopping altogether and use Black Friday as a time to get out and enjoy nature, weather permitting. In Lafayette, there have been paddle events along Bayou Vermilion and Bayou Teche. Get out to a park with friends, family or pets and appreciate the time off of work if you have it.


I love helping spread the word about Small Business Saturday. Supporting small businesses really makes a difference, whether it's a locally owned shop or an online retailer. Shopping at locally owned retailers, restaurants, or service-based businesses benefits your community tremendously.

And supporting a small online business helps an individual entrepreneur, a family-owned company, a team of 10, or even fair-trade artisans in another country.
Small Business Saturday is now in its seventh year, and many local businesses participate and offer special deals to celebrate.

Whether you shop in town or online, make Small Business Saturday part of your holiday shopping plans - and choose small businesses for most of your seasonal shopping!

Check here for participating small businesses near you.


Sign up for your favorite brands' email lists so you can be informed of special Cyber Monday deals, and consider fair-trade-minded businesses when you're ready to do some online shopping.

I'll go into a lot more detail in my gift guide posts here on the blog...after Cyber Monday, ha. Check out my Resources page for a quick list of eco-friendly brands I like.


The holidays are so much a time of thinking about material goods and finding the perfect gift. But it's an important time to think about giving to charities and deserving nonprofit organizations. Make it a special holiday for someone in need by participating in Giving Tuesday.
One of the easiest ways to give back all year round is by using A portion of your purchase goes to a charity that you choose.

You can participate in your own way - volunteer with a nonprofit, donate food to the hungry or donate money to your nonprofit of choice. However you give, it will make a difference this holiday season.

Find a volunteer opportunity near you.

Donate to environmental charities - Lord knows they could use a little extra support as they fight the good fight. In my Giving Tuesday post from 2014, I list a few of the bigger environmental nonprofits.

Give some of your time to a local nonprofit - volunteering is so fulfilling!

Giving back helps remind us of the true reason for the season. Let's all come together just a little bit more this season. We are one planet, and one large community. Put aside the differences and let's give more love this holiday season.

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