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The List: 7 Sustainable Ways To Get Cozy For The Holidays 5

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Everyone’s talking about Hygge, the lifestyle concept of cozy contentment. Here’s how to do it sustainably.

Have you heard the term Hygge? It’s a Scandinavian concept, roughly translated to creating a cozy and intimate environment in your home. Think soft blankets, a crackling fireplace, a mug of something warm, and a good book. I don’t know about you, but this time of year, when the temperature is dropping and all the holiday obligations are stressing us out, Hygge becomes more important than ever.

Living a hygge life and being environmentally responsible can go hand-in-hand. Just follow these suggestions about how to stay warm and cozy — and green — until Spring.

1. Turn the thermostat down

Hear me out on this one. If you turn the heat down a few degrees, you have all the more reason to slip into your coziest stuff: Soft sweaters, fleece slippers, a velour throw blanket. For the best energy savings, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your thermostat at 68˚F while you’re at home, and turning it down between 7 and 10 degrees when you’re not at home or while you’re sleeping. (Adding an extra blanket to the bed is another way to get cozy!) And research suggests a cool room is better for deep sleep anyway.

2. Make a cup of tea

A warm cup of tea or hot cocoa can really complete a hygge setting. To make an eco-friendlier brew, use an electric kettle rather than the stove to heat your water, and heat only the amount of water you need. Reduce packaging waste by buying loose-leaf tea in bulk and using a reusable infuser or tea ball. If you do prefer teabags, look for ones without metal staples, and compost the bags when you’re done.

3. Choose candles wisely

I love turning off unnecessary lamps and overhead fixtures and enjoying the soft light of flickering candles. But I recently read about a study that determined churches had levels of toxic chemicals similar to the air around a busy highway, all thanks to the cheap paraffin candles burning inside. If you love candles, seek out versions that are better for the environment as well as for your interior air quality. Beeswax and soy candles with organic cotton wicks are your best bets. And beware: If you have a stash of old candles that might date back to before 2003, they could potentially contain lead in the wicks. When you’re done with your candles, get creative with reusing their pretty vessels!

4. Add some natural decorations

One component of a hygge home is incorporating natural materials into your setting. Certain houseplants will not only add to the ambience but also improve your interior air quality. If you don’t have a green thumb, you can make arrangements with pretty fall leaves, pine cones or cut branches, or even create arrangements with smooth stones or seashells gathered from your last vacation.

5. Pick up a good book

To go along with the cozy blanket, warm tea, and comforting setting, a book seems just the thing. When it comes to the environment, the e-reader vs. paper debate puts paper books a hair ahead of their electronic counterparts. Borrowing books from friends or the library, buying used books (and passing on your own copies when you’re finished), and, if you’re an e-reader, using your device until it breaks, then recycling it with an e-cycler, will all further reduce your book-lover’s footprint.

6. Enjoy your fireplace (if you have one)

A crackling fire is the ultimate treat on a cold night. Fireplaces can be causes for energy waste and interior air-quality pollution so it’s important to make sure that yours is as environmentally responsible as possible. Wood-burning fireplaces can release soot and toxic chemicals, so consider getting a gas insert or an insert that uses cleaner wood pellets, which are made from lumberyard byproducts. While the fire is burning, turn your heat down or entirely off and enjoy cozying up to the flickering flames instead.

7. Knit a scarf

While enjoying that fire, give your hands something to do by taking up knitting or crocheting. Feeling the soft yarn between your hands is a pleasure in itself, and pulling on a handmade hat or scarf is so gratifying! There are plenty of sustainable options for your knitting gear. Choose yarn made from unusual but eco-friendly fibers, such as seaweed, corn, hemp, soy silk, or recycled sari silk. As for the needles, you can often find secondhand needles at thrift stores or estate sales. Other choices are needles made of renewable resources like bamboo or recycled plastic, or you could always make your own with a pair of chopsticks!

Armed with these sustainable tips, you’ll be able to enjoy making your home a little more hygge, just in time to escape from holiday stresses.


What are some of the sustainable ways you stay cozy in the wintertime? Share your ideas in the comments.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • tommy b. 6 days ago
  • Terry M. 7 days ago
    Well I learned something new today, thanks to Celia R.!!! Looked up hygge! Great word!!!
  • vik r. 13 days ago
    we wear thick socks to keep feet warm, two layers tops, several blankets to keep us warm. we keep our heater temperature @ 62 to 65 depending how cold outside. also, a portable heater for one room to sleep with all doors closed. another portable heater for garage where laundry room is due to pipes. hardly use candles even it is soy or bee made candles cuz of smokes from cotton wicks to gray my walls/ceilings.
  • Celia R. 13 days ago
    When I grew up in a poor neighborhood, most families spent the winters gathered together in the kitchen. The cooking helped heat the room, as did their (own) warm bodies. I'll bet they had a lot more hygge than that poor woman sitting alone trying to keep her bare feet warm with most of the heat from the fireplace going up the chimney.
  • Randy F. 13 days ago
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    * WARNING! *

    DON'T TURN YOUR THERMOSTAT DOWN TO 58'f or lower if it is ZerO Degrees outside!

    Or at least investigate your own household needs before going that low.

    While you save some pennies per hour, your wallboards and paint will crack, peel, and possibly fall over time with such major shifts in temperature and humidity. Plus, there is no tempering of sorts when you suddenly kick the heat up 10-20 degrees at one time when the rooms are so cold [with outside temps 20 or lower]
    Materials require gradual adjusting. Now Plumbing, if you have basement with pipes, especially unheated, you risk a pipe break and severe water damage AND power loss if the water temps go below 30. Burst Pipes are NOT worth being THAT green!!! If you are going to risk it, please consider opening cupboard doors with pipes inside, let the faucet very slowly drip, and / or roll heating tape that plugs in around unheated pipes. If you can, check print or internet sources for safety and accuracy,

    I think this author should have been MORE RESPONSIBLE in reporting the warnings!

    So many article FORGET to warn of the pitfalls! )-:

    Like Fake News, don't just leap to believe & do everything your told to!!!
    Regardless of the source. (YES, THAT INCLUDES checking my CLAIMS TOO!).


    Please Be Careful.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    • Angela B. 12 days ago
      I appreciate you taking the time to remind others of looking at the whole picture of their situation, before implementing a suggestion that may bring an unwanted result. Thanks to you and the author for trying to help people protect both their homes and the environment. :-)
    • Randy F. 9 days ago
      Thank You for taking time to reply.

      As for my message intensity, I am currently a victim of not fact-checking this topic and have thousands of dollars worth of wall/ ceiling damages not including the peeling segments of walls that I can repair myself. So this topic is quite personal to me and I may have come across a tad too strong. Thank you for your diplomacy, kindness, and grace.
    • Randy F. 9 days ago
      ~ To All That Read These Comments:

      My intensity may have come off a little too passionately and a little less kind than I would have liked.
      I was speaking from personal experience and currently have thousands of dollars worth of wall / ceiling damage that I am untrained to repair nor afford to hire out/ replace. The damage took several years to notice but the peeling paint was the eye opener. My issues developed from
      A.) Turning the heat down . . . turning it up too rapidly.
      B.) Keeping the heat shut off / doors shut to unused rooms,
      C.) Buying an ultra efficient furnace that sucks all the moisture out of the air & drains it away .
      D.) Not knowing the importance of the costly "April Air" installation to replace the lost moisture.
      E). Having an older house with original, less forgiving, wallboard & paint.

      Luckily, I learned early on about freezing pipes and have had good luck thus far preventing them. Some of my loved ones have not been so lucky.

      So, if you care to, help save the environment; save some money; but also use good judgement to save your home from damage and the fear & stress that it causes.
    • Jessica H. 6 days ago
      You make good points! I got the information directly from the U.S. Department of Energy, and after doing a little research I couldn't find any information about the consequences you mentioned. But it definitely makes sense to be mindful of pipes freezing during very cold days. Thanks for the reminder!
    • Randy F. 5 days ago
      I'm sure there is a literary quote somewhere in history about learning things through Self Discovery/ Friends & Family Versus what Books, News Media, Directions, or the Government might tell you (-:
      These unexpected pitfalls can happen to all kinds of people, like new home owners that had parents taking care of all these things, or people used to living in apartments that had "super's" keeping guard . . .

      Neighbors, here in the east, that were on winter vacation hadn't planned for -20* degree windchill temps (or set the thermostat accordingly) when they left home and their finished basement was destroyed by burst pipes. Carpets, Paintings, Electronics and all.

      ~ Sometimes it's the littlest differences/ changes that can wreak havoc ~
      (in MANY Aspects Of Life)

      While it is nice to learn on our own, learning through others' headaches as a preventative can be a great thing sometimes.
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