Tag archives for christmas

5 tips for a wasteless Christmas


Just too good to waste. Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se.

As I wrote last week, awareness about the climate and environmental impact of Christmas food has grown quite a lot. But there’s one more thing to this: It doesn’t matter how organic and locally produced the food is if we end up throwing it away.

Every year Swedes let about 900.000 tons of edible food go in to the waste bins. Leftovers from a overdimensioned dinner, those incredibly cheap vegetables that we couldn’t resist buying, meat that would have been delicious but was forgotten when a friend called and wanted to eat out… These things happen to all of us, but a bit of planning can easily reduce waste a lot.
Read more » >>

Sweden’s Christmas food feast goes greener

Pickled herring varieties at Gunnebo, just outside Gothenburg. This is just one of many restaurants offering an organic and mainly homegrown Julbord. Other examples are Ängavallen in the South of Sweden and Bistro le Garage in Umeå in the North, which also offers a vegan Julbord. Photo: The cook (!) Martin Österbrand, Gunnebo.

Something you definitely shouldn’t miss if you are in Sweden during December, is the Julbord. This is kind of a Christmas Smorgasbord, with dozens of different dishes, ranging from the Christmas ham and meatballs to countless varieties of pickled herring, cakes and sweets.

Although meat can of course be pointed out as quite a heavy carbon-emitter, Swedish Christmas food is in many ways relatively climate smart. It’s not based on ingredients that have to be transported across the globe and being traditional dishes, and invented at a time when people didn’t have any freezer, it’s also food belonging to the season. Read more » >>

Christmas gift of the year: Time?

One of Gothenburg’s largest shopping centres getting ready for Christmas rush. Photo: Håkan Dahlström  (CC BY)

This weekend is the first Advent Sunday before Christmas. This also means the offical start of Christmas shopping. Every year, the Swedish retail industry research company HUI Research predicts what will be the new “Christmas gift of the year”. During the years, we have seen things like the wok frying pan or the spiked yoga mat being appointed the gift of the year and filling Swedish homes (and then frequently found in flea markets a few years later …).

This year the thing to give away is, according to HUI, a grocery bag subscription. Lately, subscribing to ready-planned dinner schemes, complete with recipes and ingredients, delivered directly to your door, have become popular for busy families. Some of these services have started to come with organic and locally produced food.
“It is new, it sells well and it reflects the times in which we live,” said Emma Hernell at HUI in an article in The Local. Read more » >>

Making Christmas more sustainable – and relaxed


Candy can work as a nice Christmas gift. Photo: Ann Lindberg/Imagebank Sweden.

Christmas preparations are in full swing in Sweden. Since Christmas often means doing what we usually do, only ten times bigger (buying more, eating more, travelling more), there’s no reason not to look like it from a sustainability point of view too.

The municipality of Botkyrka (autotranslated homepage) in the south of Stockholm, has made a campaign about how to celebrate more climate friendly. One way is cutting down on the meat, since the traditional Swedish Christmas buffet is quite loaded with that. Another thing is not to make too much food only to throw away a lot of it in the end. Why not ask the neighbours if they want some?

Then there are of course hundreds of different ways to turn resource-consuming and stress-creating Christmas gift shopping into something better.
Recently I was interviewed by a Swedish radio show about this, and told them what became my personal eye-opener: When I was about 14 years old we used to spend Christmas with my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins, alltogether around 15 persons.


Like these - but green. Not every 16 year old's favourite...

As the years went by, the gift-buying, wrapping and opening took more and more of the days we spent together. Until one year, when I and my mother, gathering the gifts to put them under the Christmas tree, suddenly realized we had missed one gift, for my two year older cousin David. Panick-stricken, we took what we had – a box of green marmelade jellies – and wrapped it. I can assure you that green marmelade jellies wasn’t the dream gift for a 16 year old boy, not even in the beginning of the 1990:s…

After this we realized it was time for a change. In the end all we wanted was spending time together. So we decided to concentrate on that and cut the gift business drastically. This year I’m just giving away a few gifts, most of them edible. But no green marmelade jellies…

Here are Botkyrka’s gift suggestions:

  • A punch ticket at the local swimming pool
  • Give away a theatre ticket, or why not two and come along yourself?
  • Give something that makes people in other parts of the world happy too, like a goat to a poor family or financial help for a safe childbirth. Check out what different organisations do.
  • Who would say no to 30 hours of garden work?
  • A massage.
  • Your own kitchen is as good as any shop. Cookies, buns or Christmas sweets are perfect gifts. (recipes for Swedish ginger snaps and saffron buns can be found here)

Last but not least: A great and very exclusive gift can actually be time. The other day I heard of a lady who asks her grown-up daughters and sons to give her their undivided attention as a Christmas gift. One day when they spend time with her, without beeping mobiles or checking their e-mails. Just her and them. That’s a gift money can’t buy.

Philosophy of a sustainable Christmas

Photo: Erik Forsberg/Flickr.

One day before the big Christmas celebrations here in Sweden and every city centre is crowded with shoppers. Sales are predicted to break the record this year too. But I feel very inspired when I read the ideas from the project “The Climate Pilots” in Askersund and Laxå. In this project a number of families in each city are invited to learn and get coaching to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Philosophical questions

What I particularly like with this project is that it hasn’t focused only on the technical sides of the problem, but goes beyond changing light bulbs and driving less. A lot of the challenges they give to these families during the 12 months that they will be climate pilots consist of questions that are more philosophical.
During December they have had the mission to reflect upon what a perfect Christmas is. Is efficiency and consumption what makes a good holiday, or could it actually give more if we just calmed down and just got together?

250 books or a homemade dinner?

They also look at the CO2 footprint of different aspects of Christmas. Given that a globally sustainable level of per capita emissions would be one ton of CO2, how many could you buy before having spent your whole quota? Well, giving away a “bed of nails” (which has been claimed to be the “Christmas gift of the year”), you could buy up to 67, whereas there would be room for 250 books.
Now nobody suggests that anyone should buy 67 beds of nails and then spend the rest of the year without heating her house or traveling, but it gives a bit of a perspective.

Zero carbon Christmas gifts

To be generous without emitting, the project has some ideas on how to give away your time as a gift:
* Make a gift voucher of X hours of baby sitting.
* Or a gift voucher of a homemade dinner for the whole family.
* If you possess a specific knowledge or a profession: offer a lesson, a haircut or whatever you’re good at.

Now it’s time for me to get out in the snow before the making of tomorrow’s food begins. A Merry Christmas to everyone!