Less Waste Thanksgiving

Hard to believe but Thanksgiving is only a week away. If you haven’t considered what you might need to prepare for I have you covered. From shopping to cleaning up here are some tips to keep it less wasteful.

How to Prep

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Assigned Dishes – If you are hosting guests at your home, chat about what you plan to serve. If you want them to bring a dish, assign them a type of dish like a side or dessert so you won’t make more food than necessary.

When going to the grocery store consider the following items:

  • Packing your re-useable bags, produce and bulk bin bags
  • Check your store for online coupons
  • Create a food list with the number of people you have attending so you can purchase the correct amount.
  • If you know you will be having a comfortable morning at home the day after Thanksgiving, include any food or drink items on your list to pick up at the same time.
  • Keep an eye out for food packaged either naked, in tin or glass. Look to avoid plastic if possible.

Kitchen and Table Prep

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The worst is starting to make something and realize you don’t have the right pan or tool for it. To make sure you have everything you need the day of consider some of the items below.

  • How many place settings are you going to need?
  • Do you have all the kitchen tools you need? Serving dishes, utensils, pans, etc.
  • If serving drinks, do you have the correct glassware?
  • What will the table setup look like?

If you are missing anything consider borrowing from friends or asking them to bring something over. Since Thanksgiving only happens once a year you might not need to own it and borrowing can make the most sense. If you do feel the need to own the missing item, consider stopping at a secondhand store to see what they might have. You can find some pretty nice items at a very reasonable price.


If you don’t use reusable napkins, Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to start. Pick a design you will use more than once and if you want to fancy them up you can purchase napkin rings. I found some wood ones at Goodwill that are perfect for this kind of occasion.


If you use candles, consider where you might shop for candles. Candles can pollute the air with toxins and over a few hours that’s not good for your dinner or your health. Look to find candles that are paraffin free and if you can get something local even better.


It is very unlikely you will eat everything you cook on Thanksgiving, so plan to store leftovers or send food home with friends and family. Glass or silicone containers make for a perfect alternative to plastic containers or ziplock bags.

Ask your guests to bring their own containers or be prepared to let them borrow containers to take-away leftovers.


Whatever you plan to drink at Thanksgiving consider how it will be served.

When purchasing items like soda, lemonade, iced tea or other non-alcoholic drinks look for cans or glass options. These are better options than plastic. Or consider making it yourself, something like iced tea can be easy to make.

For alcoholic drinks, see what glassware you might own. For example if you are serving Margaritas see if you can find some Margarita glasses at a secondhand store if you don’t own some. Something like Goodwill has a whole aisle of glassware and some very unique looking items. If you do have the glasses but worry about tracking who has what glass look for drink charms. These can be placed on the steam of glasses or elsewhere with a color so guests know which glass is theirs. If not, something like ribbon in different colors can be an easy way to distinguish each glass.

To save water from extra dirty dishes, ask that your guests keep their glasses and offer to refill them as you go, no need to dirty a new glass.

Remember to drink responsibly, holidays are the worst for drunk drivers. We want everyone to have a fun and safe time with friends and family.

Clean up

Allowing dishes to soak in soap and water can help break up any food residue before looking to load in a dishwasher or to hand wash. This can save on water and time, so let dishes soak while enjoy a time with your close ones and come back to it later.

Volunteering or Donating

The holidays should be enjoyed by all, so if you are interested in volunteering or donating in Tucson check out The Gospel Rescue Mission’s Thanksgiving Street Banquet. They are expecting over 2,500 homeless people or nearly homeless people.

If you are not in Tucson, see what options might be in your area.

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My name is Kate and I'm a world traveler looking to make a positive impact by reducing my waste and single plastic use.