With Christmas being the number one holiday across the world, all regions on the planet see incredible amounts of consumption. “Think about the amount of food that’s thrown away every Christmas – wrapping paper alone is a huge waste,” says Jenny Day, one of the founders of Greenglasses, a company that has been mapping sustainable and environmentally friendly companies and businesses in Prague for the past two years. Add to that the millions of evergreens cut down for Christmas trees, holiday lights using vast amounts of electricity, and the mass exercise in conspicuous consumption, and you’ve got a pretty serious impact on the environment.

There is, however, a way to celebrate Christmas more responsibly. “It’s a perfect time to think about how to choose more wisely while shopping,” says Day. Greenglasses offered that opportunity at Sustainability Day–Xmas Edition, an event held on Dec. 6 to educate visitors on various ways to celebrate Christmas sustainably. Local fashion brands, organic cosmetics, reusable packaging, eco cleaning products and vegan foods were just a few of the items that were sold at the location.

Organic cosmetics and perfumes sold at the Sustainability - Xmas Edition event
Organic cosmetics and perfumes sold at the Sustainability – Xmas Edition event

Over the next couple weeks, Prague offers some other attractive alternatives to mass consumer shopping. The events below will give you a creative and responsible way to celebrate Christmas without missing out on any of the gift-giving traditions.

The first is the MINT: Weekend Market, an alternative and a more environmentally friendly way to shop. It will be open for the two Saturdays leading up to Christmas, giving customers enough time to pick out presents for the whole family. Despite being held in a fairly small space, MINT offers more than 40 different brands and companies selling everything from fashion, jewelry, cosmetics and perfume to books and food. All brands are independent, giving customers an opportunity to purchase something truly different, such as a watch or bowtie made of wood. The products here are nothing like what one sees at a regular shopping mall, and will surely leave the receiver of the gift pleasantly surprised.

“The items were very unique and had their own style, I really liked the pendant made of colored pencils,” says Yuseon Jung, a customer at the market.

Various jewelry items offered at the MINT Market

Aside from shopping, MINT is a great place to hang out and explore, as a DJ at the location envelops the venue in a very relaxed atmosphere. Multiple stands serve food ranging from Vietnamese cuisine to American-style hot dogs. The brands and companies rotate every weekend, so every Saturday offers a chance to find something new. Overall, it’s a great place to purchase more sustainable gifts, while at the same time supporting small independent businesses trying to do something for the quality of the environment.

A similar event offering an alternative to mundane shopping at the mall is the upcoming IWAP Christmas Market that is scheduled to take place on Dec. 10 at the InterContinental Hotel. This is yet another great opportunity to help others while doing Christmas shopping, as the proceeds from this market will go to SKP HOPO, a family shelter focused on providing shelter, socialization and parenting skills for at-risk families. The organizer, the International Women’s Association of Prague, is an independent non-profit organization whose members are primarily from the expat community in Prague, representing over 35 different countries.

The market will feature more than 40 vendors offering unique Christmas gifts and used books, as well as baked goods and raffle prizes.

Vegan foods and treats at Sustainability day event
Vegan foods and treats at Sustainability day event

Both of these events are tourist-friendly and most of the vendors speak English, with quite a few of them being from abroad themselves. The community striving for sustainability is an international one and welcomes everyone interested in making a difference.

When asked about ways to be less harmful to the environment during this time of year, Day responds, “Try to think a little bit about where the product is coming from and what kind of impact it has, and opt for more ecological options.” It doesn’t take much effort to be more mindful. But if many make a small difference, the overall result will be significant.

MINT: Weekend Market
Pražská tržnice, Bubenské nábřeží 306/13
Sat 10.12 09:00-18:00
Sat 17.12 09:00-18:00

IWAP Christmas Market
InterContinental Prague
Pařížská 30, Prague 1
Sat 10.12 10:00-16:00

Photo courtesy of Anna Kindyakova