It was two or three years ago when I first heard the term hygge, though I probably read it rather than heard it, and in my head pronounced it “higgy” (actually pronounced “hoo-gah”). For those who are not yet familiar, hygge is the Danish term for that cozy feeling of contentment that comes from the enjoyment of life’s simplest pleasures. The Danes are experts at it, and I’ve come to regard hygge as my key to surviving the sometimes bleak, seemingly interminable British winter.
There are many ways to experience hygge - I recommend picking up a copy of The Little Book of Hygge, a comprehensive guide to the concept and its many manifestations. Below is a list of my favourite elements of hygge, and a few tips for adapting them to suite a zero waste lifestyle.
Dim lights and the soft glow of candles are a quintessential element of hygge. Turn off the overhead LEDs, switch on some soft lamps, and light some pillar candles.
Zero Waste Tip: Opt for natural soy or beeswax candles, and go fragrance free.
You can’t hygge with cold feet. Pull on some fluffy warm socks before curling up in your candlelit nook.
Zero Waste Tip: Opt for natural fibres to avoid contaminating the air and your water supply with synthetic microfibres. And if you wear your socks so much you wear a hole in the toe, darn them rather than throwing them out!
Warm beverages are essential to creating that cozy hygge vibe. The Danes live on coffee, but every Brit knows tea does the job as well!
Zero Waste Tip: Opt for zero waste methods of coffee brewing, like French press and bialetti, and choose loose leaf tea in an infuser pot or tea strainer. Don’t forget to compost your coffee grounds and tea leaves!
What’s a warm drink without a sweet treat to go with it? Enjoyment of food triggers those happy hormones that provide a sense of well-being.
Zero Waste Tip: Keep your carbon footprint to a minimum by choosing plant-based desserts! If you’re up for making your own, give this one a go!
Board games are an entirely underrated pastime in my view, and the Danes agree. The best part about board games is that they require you to round up a few friends to join in the fun, and spending quality time with others is a key element of hygge.
Zero Waste Tip: Check your local charity shop for second hand board games.
All of the above are best enjoyed in the absence of technology, so shut down the laptop, turn off the phone, and enjoy these simple pleasures for a few hours, in the company of people you love!