Thanksgiving is a time for delicious food, togetherness in family and friends, and reflecting on the things that matter most in life! But for all the cheer and goodwill that Thanksgiving can bring, all our extra eating, traveling, and shopping can have a big impact on the environment.

Give thanks to the planet and while enjoying all the things we enjoy about Thanksgiving with our best tips to help reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season. Bonus Tip: Our tips can also save you time, stress, and money, too. Let’s get planning!

Tip One: Be Smart About Food

Thanksgiving celebrations may look a little more intimate this year, which means we will be preparing smaller amounts for our Thanksgiving feast. A good rule of thumb is to consider each person who is attending your Thanksgiving dinner and how much they usually eat on Thanksgiving. Not everyone ends up eating that third helping; smaller portions mean less waste while reducing your grocery bill!

Skip the Turkey this year! The meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, which is a major contributor to climate change. Another major environmental impact of a meat-eating diet is the depletion of natural resources. Even if you’re not vegetarian, try adding a little less meat to your plate and filling the rest of the plate with healthy sides, such as squash, green beans or kale. Check out the Serendipity Vegan Thanksgiving Menu, here.

Consider buying local. Foods grown locally require fewer greenhouse gases to get to you, and are usually grown on smaller farms using more sustainable practices. Buying locally also helps to keep jobs and money in your community’s economy. Plus, local food tends to be fresher and tastier. P.S. Make a list, check it twice so you can eliminate multiple trips to the store.

Tip Two: Consider Alternatives to Wasteful Practices

Use reusable dinnerware, glasses and napkins. Not only is it better for the environment, but who likes cutting turkey with a plastic knife and hoping the gravy won’t soak through the paper plate? Want to skip the extra step of running the dishes? There are compostable eco-ware options that will save you from doing some post Thanksgiving cleaning duties and water!

Sometimes we can’t use all parts of our ingredients, but there’s a way to dispose of them that’s kinder to our planet! If you’re food prepping and looking for a sustainable place to toss those vegetable peels, make a delicious vegetable stock that you can freeze and use at a later time. If you have organic waste that cannot be used, consider composting as a last resort.

So it may not be possible to cook exactly the right amount of food which is ok! Before tossing leftovers in the compost bin, there are a few options for try. Whip up another delicious meal with these leftover recipes, here, because who says Thanksgiving only has to last for one day?  If you’re not the kind of person who loves a good Thanksgiving turkey sandwich the day after, you can still make sure your leftovers don’t go to waste! A great way to do this is to look up your nearest homeless shelter and donate your food. The holidays can be especially lonely for some, so a good home-cooked meal donated to someone in need can really make a difference!

Tip Three: Decorate with a Green Mind

Candle lit dinners always make any dinner a little more intimate and warm! Think about using candles made with soy or vegetable wax (or make them yourself with a DIY craft guide to sustainable candle making). Soy wax is clean-burning, without soot or harmful emissions, and has a low melting point so it burns at a cooler temperature.

Leaves are Fallin’, Autumn is calling! Forget the petroleum-based plastic and synthetic decorations and adorn your table with natural and homemade festive decor. Fill clear vases with pinecones, acorns and colorful leaves. Popped open your organic wine bottles already? Carve a small slit in the corks, and slide in a piece of paper with a guest’s name to create unique, upcycled place settings. Get more eco-friendly ways to our make your home feel warm for the holidays without the extra unnessacary purchases with these sustainable upcycled ideas, here.

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude – and that extends to our gratitude for the planet! The choices we make this holiday season can make a difference, and can make the celebrations that much more meaningful!