How to live a sustainable (and hygge) life
In a sustainable lifestyle, not only do you nurture yourself, but you nurture the environment, too.
This is a principle that goes hand-in-hand with the hygge ideal. Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-guh’) is a Danish word for enjoying life’s simple pleasures. The concept is built on a foundation of doing things for yourself and others, and doing them with mindfulness and an appreciation of the world around you.
Hygge is a state of mind, so you can find it anywhere, but there are ways you can embrace it through sustainable practices at home.
Get into the garden
Growing your own food is a connection to a simpler life, even amidst the chaos we all live in. For the O’Shea family, who live in a suburb of Melbourne, growing their own food provides a sense of satisfaction they don’t get from going to the shops.
There’s a kind of pride in seeing something you’ve planted grow into food you can eat,” says Jodie. “It’s good for the kids too: I send them out to pick some veggies for dinner, and they often eat half of them while they’re out there!”
How? Start small by growing a little patch of your family’s three favourite vegetables. Or place a potted berry plant on the front porch, or a herb garden in a hanging pot.
Light some candles
Candles are considered the simplest, most effective way to get that cosy, hygge feeling in your home. They also serve a purpose beyond giving your house a lovely atmosphere: they cut your energy usage. To increase the eco-friendliness of your candlelit, look for organic beeswax or soy candles.
How? Place a candle in your bathroom and indulge in a bath or shower by candlelight. Or keep a candle in the kitchen and light it just before you dish up dinner.
It’s tempting to collapse in front of the television in the evenings, but there are more hygge-friendly ways to chill out and increase your contentment levels at the same time. Craft has regained its popularity, and many people love an evening tucked into a cosy nook at home with some knitting or sewing. Others use their craftiness in a different way. Wendy Burton is a mum of four who has a passion for finding old, unloved furniture, and giving it new life in her family home. “People throw everything out that isn’t perfect,” she says, “but I love having some of those imperfections at home. I think a chair that’s been given new life adds a nice feeling to a home, and it has a good story too.” Cutting down on landfill: it doesn’t get more sustainable than that.How? If you’re keen to get into some crafty recycling, keep your eyes on your local op shops, social media swap pages, and hard rubbish collections in your area.
Volunteer your time
Sustainable communities are reliant on one thing: people power. There are lots of ways you can help your local area to thrive, including volunteering time or skills to a local service. As a bonus, volunteering is known to increase happiness in a very hygge way.
How? Start small – charities need your help, but so might your elderly neighbour or your local primary school. Prepare a meal to drop off or volunteer in the canteen to get back to the roots of your community.
Bake to your heart’s content
Preparing your own food is a sustainable way to feed the planet and Jodie O’Shea’s husband, Michael, is a big fan. Each year he smokes his own salami. “We make a big day of it with friends,” Jodie explains, “and it feels like, every time we eat some salami, we’re taken back to that fun day of making food with lots of laughs.”
How? This oh-so-hygge feeling can be achieved on a smaller scale, too. Have friends over to bake biscuits and reduce your reliance on packaged foods – a great move for sustainability.
Visit a farmers market
When it comes to choosing vegetables, being able to buy them directly from the farmer is definitely more sustainable than opting to visit a grocery story. Plus, it offers the hygge element of talking to catching up with locals and talking to your grower about your food.
How? Look online to find a farmer’s market in your area. Visit it when you can to stock up on fresh fruit and veg direct from the farm.
When it comes to living a sustainable life, many hygge practices go hand-in-hand. Adopt a few when you can and watch the happiness element of your life increase exponentially.