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5 Ideas for a Sustainable, Environmentally-Friendly Holiday Season

Thanksgiving, and the holidays that follow, are fast approaching. While planning, consider these 5 ideas for a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly holiday season. Use them to avoid disposable plastic options and help the planet!

Don’t save it for a special event.

A table setting example from Shannon Carter.

Dig out the good stuff from the basement, upper cabinet, or closet. Whether its wedding china, hand me downs, or gifts you’ve never opened, unearth them and start using them. If the holidays can’t inspire you, maybe you don’t need them after all? Consider donating, selling, or giving them away to someone who can. Using those plates, platters and serving dishes can connect you to the givers and happy memories. Plus they will keep you from buying other single-use options. It’s a sad fact that 64 billion paper and 73 billion Styrofoam and plastic cups and plates are thrown away in a year in the US. Skip the disposables and celebrate in style.


Yes, disposable roasting pans are convenient. But they’re also pretty bad for the environment. In fact, if everyone in the US used a disposable roasting pan to cook their Thanksgiving meal, there would be 46 million tinfoil pans being thrown out every year. Invest in a good quality ceramic or glass one instead. It will last a lifetime and, if you pass it along to the next generation, it might ensure hundreds of sustainable, environmentally-friendly holidays seasons.

Plaine Products co founder Ali Webster with designer Eddie Ross.


Looking for new items to enlarge your hosting capacity, or ready for some new table ware? Consider second hand stores. Designer extraordinaire Eddie Ross recently spoke at a Cincinnati Association of Volunteers’ event about his love of finding hidden gems. He gleefully searches amongst the rabble at flea markets, second hand stores and yard sales for finds. Recognized for his inventive, out-of-the-box approach to high-style decorating and entertaining on a budget, Eddie consistently re-imagines the possibilities in secondhand finds. Check out his website for inspiration. Second hand does not have to mean second class!

sustainable, environmentally-friendly holiday season

Repurposed silver spoons by Shannon Carter.


There’s so much that can be done with things you already own. We saw this idea of repurposing silver forks as an appetizer dish at a luncheon featuring Shannon Carter. She explained that repurposing allows the objects to maintain their sentimental value while being relevant in our 21st century lives. Other ideas: serving bread sticks in bud vases and mixing and matching heirlooms with contemporary pieces when decorating.

Less can be more.

Every year 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted — more than 100 pounds per person. That number goes up during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, non-food waste increases by over 20% – an extra 5 million tons – according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Reduce your waste and have a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly holiday season by planning ahead for the meal and practicing portion control. Use Less Stuff (their website is no longer in service) created a handy list of approximate per person food and drink portions:

  • Turkey: 1 pound
  • Stuffing: ¼ pound
  • Sweet potato casserole: ¼ pound
  • Green beans: ¼ pound
  • Cranberry relish: 3 tablespoons
  • Pumpkin pie: 1/8 of a 9-inch pie

By keeping track each year of how much people eat you can make a more efficient, less wasteful Thanksgiving meal in the future.

Be Thankful.

Finally, don’t forget to be thankful. We all are so lucky in the lives we live. Progress, not perfection is our mantra. If you even take one of these steps the planet will be thankful.


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