Aside from a deft way with street style and an aptitude for cinnamon-based bakes, the Scandis have another thing that they are really, really good at. Sustainability.
Fifty per cent of Copenhagen dwellers cycle commute every day, while the city has a carbon neutral by 2025 target. Swedes are the EU’s biggest buyers of organic food and Stockholm was the first city to win the European Green Capital Award. But aside from the government-led stuff, your average Nordic on the street has a sustainable attitude that’s driven by pragmatism, rather than a huge desire to be green.
With a career spun out of what it means to live la vida hygge, we asked for her insight.
“I’m 42 and I have never lived in a house without several bins. For Scandiavians, composting food, splitting up plastic and paper and taking it all seriously is second nature. It’s not something special, it’s just what you do.”
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“Our societies put a holistic idea of sustainability at their core. They’re mostly made up of a broad middle class, with few very poor people and few very rich people. Taxes are high and everyone gives money to the pot in the middle. A decent way of life is sustainable for everyone.”
“Climate change denial isn’t really a thing - it’s not something I’ve ever experienced in any Scandinavian country. Wind turbines and other renewable energy sources are incredibly popular. Samsø, a little island off the coast of Denmark, generates more green energy than it consumes and has drawn a lot of international attention for its dedication to going green.”
“When it comes to being more sustainable, we need to change our mindsets. In Scandi countries, there is an ingrained hate of waste. If you go to a restaurant, you won’t be served massive portions - we don’t take more than we need. Food is very expensive over there - I was visiting my parents recently and a load of rye bread cost the equivalent of £4 - which obviously plays a part.”
“Scandi sustainability is tied into the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’. All about having enough, not too little, not too much, it comes from the longer phrase laget om, which means ‘around the team.’ In Viking times, it was applied to the situation of having a cup of mead, which would be passed around everyone. We know that if we don’t protect the environment and protect nature then there won’t be enough resources for us all.”
“We love the outdoors. Even in winter we’re out hiking, cycling and being in nature. When you feel closely connected to the earth, you naturally want to protect it.”
‘Nørth: How To Live Scandinavian’ is out now, £19.99 (Aurum Press).