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  • Jenny Hill

Tips for Treading Lightly Through the Holidays

The holiday season is here! For some, it can feel like the season of overwhelm. After Thanksgiving, does time actually accelerate towards the end of the year? It may seem so. And it’s a time when traditions may be the go-to.

But some traditions may be more eco-friendly than others. Will the holidays tread more lightly on us if we tread more lightly on the earth during our holiday activities? It’s worth a try!

Tableware and Beyond

One of my personal holiday traditions is a very small (think three) collection of holiday plates I own. I am amazed at how a little Rudolph (or simply red and green) goes a long way each year when I mix these plates in with my regular ones.

Which leads to one of my favorite tips: “Use sustainable dishware.” I’m a big fan of vintage kitchenware and if you are a thrift shopper, you can find some amazing holiday-themed…well, you name it: tablecloths, placemats, napkins, serving dishes, drink glasses, dessert plates. I’d also encourage you to network with friends and family. Would Great Aunt Marty be thrilled to have the holly-covered gravy boat see the light of day? She might well be.

But let’s move beyond tableware. Over the last several years, the Happy Dancing Turtle blog has explored multiple ways to make holidays more sustainable. So read through some of the tips and see how they might work for you: Who knows? You might even be inspired to create new traditions!

This 2021 HDT infographic summed up simple sustainable steps, especially focused on gifts and decorating.

A Greener Black Friday

This tip is from HDT staffer Nora’s 2018 blog post on Conscious Consumerism – Giving Differently:

First of all, don’t give in to Black Friday. Join the #OptOutside campaign and pledge to spend some quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors the day after Thanksgiving. Your mental health will thank you for skipping the stress that is Black Friday! Minnesota hosts #FreeParkFriday, meaning everyone gets FREE access to MN State Parks on Black Friday (feel free to jump the border from Wisconsin)! Once you’ve had time to clear your mind, think about being a conscious consumer this holiday season.

A conscious consumer can look like a lot of different things. It might mean avoiding material purchases this season in favor of non-material gifts: tickets, experiences, services/favors, consumables, classes, etc. It might mean sourcing things used or second-hand, reducing the demand for new. Perhaps it means supporting local businesses, small businesses, or artisans instead of large corporations.

More Ideas

You might not be surprised to know sustainable dishware ranked in our Top 5 Ways to Be Sustainable This Holiday Season. Decreasing food waste, reducing wrapping and holiday cards (or repurposing them) also ranked right up there.

In 2019, Nora made sound arguments on why to give homemade gifts as well as walked those of shy about our own creations through the process in Holiday Gifts – Made from the Heart

If homemade gift-making is not for you, there is also shopping second-hand. In the Brainerd Lakes area, we are fortunate to have many second hand stores. The Driftless region also has a good share. A Google search for “Thrift stores near me” or “Thrift stores Minnesota” will bring up many options.

Which is not to say you can’t shop second-hand from the comfort of your home/online. Last year’s blog post, Reuse: Buying (or Selling) Used Items Online, explored shopping online for clothes and books.

Whatever the season, it always pays to consider the sustainable options–after all, Earth is our best and only home!


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