50 ways to tame holiday consumption, save the earth, and experience peace

christmas-ornaments-hand-made-120BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

If you’re like the majority of our readership, you try to limit your footprint on the earth. Maybe you drive a hybrid car, maybe you bike instead when you can. You try to shop locally, grow some of your own food, buy organic, not use plastic, all that. But maybe when the holidays come, you get caught up in the frenzy. Maybe you consume a lot more buying gifts than you would ever do on yourself, and maybe you drive a lot more and are generally more extravagant. Or maybe you already consider all your environmental and economic justice concerns as much if not more in your holiday celebrations, but you’re always open to new ideas. And maybe, you would just like to know about some alternative sources for local goods, recycled “stuff,” and gentle, earth-centered celebrations. For that purpose, we bring you 50 ways to tame holiday consumption, save the earth, and experience peace.

Gifts from local holiday fairs
• Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Holiday Boutique at 5025 Knox Ave. S. Features a “Dala House”: a $5 shop just for kids. Arts, crafts and a bistro lunch. Nov. 7, open at 9 a.m.
• Minneapolis Craft’za in the Grain Belt Atrium, at 1220 Marshall St. NE. Indoors: all handmade gifts. Outdoors: food trucks, of course. Nov. 14, starts at 10 a.m.
• Nokomis Square Coopera-tive Holiday Boutique and Bake Sale. Nov. 14 from 8:30 a.m. at 5105 34th Ave S.
Walker Church Holiday Art Fair, Sat., Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. and Sun., Nov. 22, at noon. Live music, two levels of arts and crafts; soup and baked goods served. At 3104 16th Ave. S.
• ArtBlok: Open studio sale with chocolate sale and glassblowing demos, at 2010 E. Hennepin on Nov. 20 – 22.
• Art at Ramsey (Ramsey Middle School in St. Paul) Simply art, run by artists,    Dec. 5.
• Midtown Global Market’s No-coast Craftorama. Over 75 select vendors, Dec. 5 and 6.
• Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute. Hand-crafted gifts and Swedish food and drink. Dec. 5 and 6.
• Women’s Art Festival at the Colin Powell Center, 2924 4th Ave S. See the ad for more details.
• Pop-up Holiday Boutique, a way to keep the community’s money in the community, using a vacant storefront at 1101 W. Broadway in North Minneapolis, Dec. 12 and 13.
• Gifts in the Gallery, at Artistry, formerly the Bloomington Theatre and Arts Center. Runs Dec. 9 – 23, in Bloomington. See the website www.artistrymn.org/gig for more details.

Shop local independents for up-cycled or environmentally low-impact gifts
• Cottage House: largest occasional market in Minneapolis, rare finds, themed sales. 4304 Chicago Ave. S.
• Flamingo’s Divine Finds: also occasional market with emphasis on retro chic, mid-century modern. 3404 Cedar Ave. S.
• Forage Modern Workshop: furniture and more from carefully chosen makers with an eye for craftsmanship. 4023 E. Lake St.
• The Roost: will open probably first week of November, at 4205 31st Ave. S. Quirky gifts, foody stuff, local artists’ work.
• Cadillac Pawn: a Lake Street pawnshop that specializes in jewelry. Bling. 1538 E. Lake St.
• Soderberg’s:  the oldest and arguably best all-round florist, in Minneapolis since 1925! 3305 E. Lake St.
• Ingebretsen’s: Lake Street stalwart with Scandinavian crafts and foods. 1601 E. Lake St.
• Cycles for Change: a nonprofit that sells upcycled bikes and bicycle maintenance classes while helping youth to thrive. 712 University Ave. W. in St.Paul
• Common Good Books: one of the best independent bookstores around, at 38 Snelling Ave. in St. Paul.
• The Book House in Dinkytown: possibly the best used bookstore in the country. 1316 4th St. SE.
• Boneshaker Books: a radical space; small used section benefits the Women’s Prison Book Project. Special orders delivered by bicycle. 2002 23rd Ave. S.
• Moon Palace Books: a neighborhood gem, with a curated mix of new and used books. 2820 E. 33rd St.
• Dreamer’s Vault: a St. Louis Park used game store that has expanded into the old Monster Den at 4701 Hiawatha Ave. S. Used board games, cards and RPGs.
• b. a consignment shop (aka B Resale): environmentally conscious (no bags), hip-hop centered, vintage fashions and local artisan’s jewelry. 2613 Nicollet Ave. S.
• B-Squad. Also on Nicollet, not only vintage clothing of the best quality, but also retro furniture and electronics and used vinyl. 3500 Nicollet Ave. S.
• Lula’s Vintage Wear: St. Paul’s celebrated vintage wear shop since 1992, also carries vintage fabrics and patterns and accessories. 1587 Selby.
• Bombshell, plus-size vintage wear in St. Paul, 794 Grand Ave.

Gifts that keep giving – memberships, classes, season tickets
• Hennepin Theater Trust, half-season passes are available.
• The History Theater, season passes, at reduced prices now.
• A membership in the Phillips Community Center Gym: classes, cardio and weight training machines, only $10 a month!
• Abrapalabra, immersion-style conversational Spanish classes for adults, in Plaza Verde on Lake St.
• Cooking classes at Kitchen in the Market (in the Midtown Global Market): local mega-chefs teach you to cook. Book online at www.kitcheninthemarket.com.
• Spa packages from Riverstone Spa and Salon: there are 2-hour, 3-hour or 5-hour packages, including a massage and other pampering treatments.

Gifts – make them yourself or hire a craftsman
• Handy at sewing? Buy vintage fabric from Lula’s Vintage Wear and make a one-of-a-kind creation.
• Use empty tall jam jars; fill with bulk spices and affix home-computer-made labels for a customized spice rack.
• Build, or hire someone local who has the skills to build, a crazy bike from old parts. Maybe a tall bike for a reckless teenager, or a shopping tricycle for your wild and crazy grandma.

Celebrations – with tiny footprints
The diet with the minimum impact on water resources and carbon footprint is vegan. Have a vegan Thanksgiving, Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwanzaa.
Not quite ready for vegan? The lowest impact non-veg option is sustainably-sourced fish. Try Coastal Seafoods for prime ingredients. A whole roasted salmon on a bed of wild rice pilaf makes a stunning main dish.
Or you can have your meal or party catered by Tatanka Truck, for all local, native-sourced plants and game, prepared by the most esteemed Sioux chef in the world.
If you really, really need a bird for your holiday feast, consider one from the Seward Friendship store, or the original Seward Co-op if that’s closer.
Another food shopping option for maximum sustainability is a farmers market—and there are some in the winter! On Nov. 21, try the Northeast Farmers Winter Market.
Also, Mill City Farmers Market has an indoor version throughout the winter on alternate Saturdays.
If you’re having a cocktail party, consider a theme of only drinks made within 100 miles. It’s totally possible now, with all the new craft breweries and distilleries in the area.
Revive some old traditions, such as caroling. Serenade your neighborhood with an eclectic mix of homemade music, then retire to your home for hot drinks and treats.

Experience peace – zero impact (almost)
Meditate. If you don’t know how, there are meetup groups, faith-based groups, and books that can teach you how.
Speaking of books—don’t forget the library!  Don’t spend money on music you only listen to once a year; hit the library and check out a CD of your favorite holiday sounds, from Renaissance to hip-hop.
Try a staycation-retreat. I know a lady who takes her family to a posh downtown hotel for Christmas. Relax in the hot tub; later, order room service.
Take in your church’s Christmas pageant, or a kid’s school Holiday Show, or one of the many excellent holiday shows in your neighborhood.
For the winter solstice, take a complete day of rest. Send the family away, turn off your cell phone and computer. Put some soft music on the CD and pamper yourself, whatever recharges your batteries.


  1. Great compilation. I wished I had hooked into it sooner.

  2. Wow! You did a ton of research on this. Really impressive! I’m going to print this out and keep it in my kitchen. Thanks very much.

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