Many people are trading their celebrations of excess for a greener holiday party this Thanksgiving. From buying organic and shopping locally to earth conscious decorations and recycled dinnerware, there are several things you can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle during the holidays. These top 5 unique and creative ways to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving Day will make your time with family and friends even more memorable.

#5 - Skip Black Friday

There are more people on the road on the day after Thanksgiving than the actual holiday itself. Make Thanksgiving Day more eco-friendly by avoiding the temptation of Black Friday deals. Stay home and enjoy more time with your family instead. Taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals could drastically reduce the carbon emissions that are produced by shopping at traditional retail stores on Black Friday.   

#4 - Donate Leftovers

To reduce waste, try not to cook more food than what you and your guests will eat. If there are leftovers, don’t let them go to waste. Contact a local shelter that may be able to use the extras or donate them to a nearby soup kitchen. You can also minimize waste by sending your friends and family home with a plate to go, or by taking Thanksgiving dinner to a shut-in neighbor. Be sure to compost any scraps.

#3 - Minimize Travel

Many people travel great distances to visit their families on Thanksgiving Day. Make plans to visit with out-of-town family members at Christmas or in the summer rather than making 2 trips less than a month apart. Instead, invite your neighbors and nearby friends to celebrate a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving day with you. A Thanksgiving potluck can make the holiday even more enjoyable for everyone. 

#2 - Dine by Candlelight

Reducing power consumption is a great way to make your Thanksgiving more eco-friendly. Turn off the lights and enjoy the shimmer of a few candles. Candlelight creates an intimate mood that is perfect for a gathering with close loved ones. Soy candles are an earth-friendly option and make beautiful decorations as well. Consider floating votives to give a soft glow and decorative pillar candles to light the tables.

#1 - Trade the Turkey

Turkeys travel many miles to reach tables for Thanksgiving and many are kept in dirty, cramped cages their entire life. Try an alternative like Tofurky this year, or consider something completely different. One nature conservation scientist served venison as the main course of his Thanksgiving feast because deer were native and plentiful in his area. If a traditional turkey is a must, find a local farm that raises pastured turkeys for your meal.

These top 5 creative and unique ways to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving Day are just a few things you can do to make your holiday greener. Make sure to recycle whatever you can and search for the least amount of packaging when you shop. Also remember to turn down the thermostat; the added body heat from your guests will warm the house more than usual.