There are a lot of preconceived ideas on how the holidays should look: multiple glamorously wrapped presents staged under a perfectly decked out tree, extravagant decorations and all the bells and whistles. The consumerism surrounding the holidays has almost come to the point of being out of control.

I made it my mission this Christmas to try and make it a little bit more eco-friendly. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, so I decided to start small. When I went to buy groceries at the store, instead of using my reusable bag I would grab a paper one instead. After a few weeks I was able to accumulate quite a few brown paper bags.

I remembered that my mom would use brown bags to wrap my books in school, so why couldn't I use them to wrap presents? So with the help of a cute leaf stamp, I was able to wrap almost all of my gifts without having to buy any type of plastic Christmas bag or wrapping paper, as well as not using any plastic grocery bags in the process.

With the help of some paper bags and a cute leaf stamp, I was able to wrap almost all of my gifts without having to buy any type of plastic Christmas bag or wrapping paper, as well as not using any plastic grocery bags in the process. (Hannah LaVigne / Bemidji Pioneer)
With the help of some paper bags and a cute leaf stamp, I was able to wrap almost all of my gifts without having to buy any type of plastic Christmas bag or wrapping paper, as well as not using any plastic grocery bags in the process. (Hannah LaVigne / Bemidji Pioneer)

When it came to decorations, I felt that it would be a bit tougher. When you walk into any store during the holidays there's a pretty good chance you will see all the newest and most glamorous of lights and decorations. It was nearly impossible for me not to grab some as they enticed me with their glamor. But, I stuck to my guns and I'm glad I did.

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My alternative was to hit up some of Bemidji’s thrift stores and they did not disappoint. I found cute decorations and Santa figurines that worked perfectly for my little apartment. I was able to get a previously owned Christmas tree and I used a Christmas blanket as my tree skirt.

Christmas is about more than just the gift giving and flashy lights, it's about spending time with loved ones and remembering that a new year is about to start, it is a time of joy and caring. Christmas will obviously be a little different this year than usual, and there are a lot of things out of our control right now. Sticking to my goal this year helped me feel a little bit better about things. And I encourage everyone to try to do the same.

Hannah LaVigne is a multimedia journalist for the Pioneer. She can be reached at hlavigne@bemidjipioneer.com