The small changes you make can have a big impact – that’s the philosophy behind IKEA’s Live Lagom community. A few months ago, I was invited to join a small group of others, all keen to make changes towards a more sustainable world, to be part of the Live Lagom team in the Nottingham IKEA store.
The Swedish phrase “Lagom är bast” means “the right amount is best” and this is the key to the programme and the journey towards sustainable living.
Use just the right amount of what you need – whether it’s food, energy or water – and leave the rest for the planet.
As a group, we meet on a regular basis, and take part in workshops and discussions surrounding different aspects of sustainable living. So far this year learned how to make our homes cosy, and save energy, as well as tips and ideas on an eco-friendly Christmas. Here’s a summarised list of some of the things we talked about, and a few of my own!
Alternative Gift Wrapping
I’ve talked about this in some detail in previous years (link) but there are lots of ways you can wrap gifts that don’t involve shiny, glitter, metallic Christmas wrap. It might be as simple as using brown paper, and decorating with string and foliage. Or you could learn the art of furoshiki – Japanese fabric wrapping. We have these delightful festive boxes which are re-used each year – they look beautiful under any tree.
Less Food Waste
Plan your Christmas dinner and snacks ahead, work out how many people you have to cater for, and carefully make a list. This will help to avoid over-cooking and over-buying, especially in the case of fruit and vegetables which have a short shelf life. Don’t be tempted by multi-buys and special offers unless you know you’ll use everything.
Make Your Own Decorations
We had a wonderful time at the Sustainable Christmas workshop, learning how to make our own crackers and fabric wreaths, using brown paper and scrap fabrics. It’s really easy to do, and so satisfying. Christmas Crackers come laden with plastic and un-recyclable parts, so you’re really helping the planet when you make your own.
You can see from my photograph that we didn’t have time to decorate the crackers, but you can easily paint them or add any kind of your own decoration and personalisation. You can even choose the cracker gift for each individual making them truly unique.
If you don’t want to make your own, perhaps consider investing in re-usable crackers. We have a set of metal ones which have been passed through my family and I absolutely adore them.
Try Plant Based
Research has revealed that a planted based vegan Christmas dinner has half the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than a traditional turkey Christmas dinner.
A traditional Christmas dinner for a family of six emits 23.5kg compared to a vegan Christmas dinner that only emits 9.5kg of C02 emissions. A vegan meal takes far less time to cook than a turkey too, so you’ll use far less energy having the oven on for a shorter time.
So why not give plant based meals a try? There are so many fabulous alternatives out there and wonderful recipes, there’s absolutely no missing out.
Think about the Christmas Tree
There is still an ongoing debate over whether it’s better to purchase an artificial tree which you keep for years, or a real tree each year.
According to the Carbon Trust, a two-metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg, more than ten times that of a real tree that’s burned after Christmas.
In other words, you’d need to re-use an artificial tree 10 times to negate its carbon footprint, so if you can do this, an artificial tree is still a good option, as there are other issues involved with real trees.
If not disposed of properly (and turned into wood chippings for parks and landscaping) it will still end up in landfill. There are also transport costs associated with delivering and collecting trees, and if you don’t have space to re-plant your tree, you need to make sure it gets to the right place for proper disposal.
There are many more ways you can make your Christmas more sustainable, and I hope this has given you something to think about. If you’d like to find out more about the IKEA Live Lagom programme you can visit their website.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.