Rethinking Christmas traditions during a global pandemic
In the middle of a climate crisis and a global pandemic, the challenge is real: we must hold on to the things that matter to us, while at the same time being open to the necessary changes.
Many of us have to rethink how we celebrate Christmas together: Should we split up? Should we celebrate virtually? Should we not dance around the Christmas tree? Traditions will have to change, our gatherings will be smaller and the ‘hygge’ will be different.
Covid has also influenced how our staff at Eat Grim is celebrating this year. Since we’re an international team, some of us are forced to celebrate without our families due to the travel restrictions. Others have to split up their family gatherings but will have a call during the night in order to connect. So this year, we’re not only thinking about how to protect the environment during Christmas, the most wasteful time of the year, but also everyone's health.
Being in a health- and climate crisis we’ve gained a new perspective on things! That’s why we here at Eat Grim have collected our top picks on how to celebrate a sustainable and thoughtful Christmas in 2021. Enjoy!
1. EAT MORE VEG AT THE CHRISTMAS DINNER
According to Unilever, in the UK alone 4.2 million Christmas dinners are wasted, which mean 273,000 turkeys and over 17 million wonderful brussel sprouts are thrown out!
For most people meat is the main ingredient of their Christmas dinner. Especially older generations tend to have the view that only a dinner including meat is good enough for this special evening. To give a little context: after the pains of war and hunger, serving meat was a sign of wealth. Even further back, in the Middle Ages, the consumption of meat was a symbol of strength and masculinity, since only the nobles were allowed to hunt. Can you see? This view on MUST having meat is so outdated! We have to rethink this custom (as well as the values that support it), which also means we need to try to get our parents and grandparents to rethink their habits.
Here at Eat Grim we’re disrupting traditions, offering mouthwatering alternatives and bringing smaller families together around a green gourmet Christmas meal with the associated ‘hygge’ and something good for the palate. Therefore, we’ve teamed up with Michelin chef Søren Westh from .506 and curated a green Christmas Feast for your family and friends this year to show you that the food during Christmas doesn’t have to be meat, meat and more meat. Instead it’ll be a sustainable and plant-based Christmas menu for the climate friendly Christmas kitchen.
Søren Westh is one of the chefs that put Denmark on the international food map. As one of the driving forces behind Noma, he was a part of making the restaurant into what we know it as today - one of the best in the world. The experienced Michelin chef investigates and challenges the modern kitchen as creative director for .506 and brings sustainability, taste and not least joy back on our plates. The Christmas menu from Søren Westh and Eat Grim is not just climate friendly, it’s also a grand culinary experience.
See the full Christmas menu here
2. GIVE SUSTAINABLE GIFTS TO YOUR LOVED ONES
Getting a present for your loved ones can be often stressful and is very demanding on the environment because of the transportation needed, the production of the item and lastly the wrapping. That’s why we have a couple of suggestions to where you can buy your gifts this year, that are both personal, delicious and better for the environment.
Tinygardens is a socioeconomic company that produces sustainable microgreens while supporting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goal. They dream of giving everybody the opportunity to grow their own foods and bring joy by connecting you to the food you eat.
Microgreens are vegetable greens harvested just after their leaves have developed and are therefore densely packed with nutrients and flavour. Baby greens! You sow seeds on a hamp mat, water it a bit and 7 days later you can harvest your greens. Perfect for anybody who's in love with being part of the whole process of cooking their food.
At a time when we are forced to think in new and different ways, we want to think about our eating habits. Eating more organic vegetables is a good way to reduce one's negative climate footprint, and to reduce food waste is considered by the UN to be one of the most effective strategies for a more sustainable and climate-friendly world. Let's round off the year with openness to new things and traditions, so that 2021 can be the year of change - welcome! Therefore we propose surprising people at the Christmas table with plant-based alternatives to what’s typically eaten during “Julefrokost”. Try breaded celery a la fish fillet, beetroot tartare, carrot a la smoked salmon or the traditional potato dish with homemade roasted onions.
Who doesn’t love to get chocolate as a gift? Tony’s Chocoloney offers delicious chocolates that is 100% slave free. If you didn’t know, yes, the cocoa industry STILL has a slave problem. Their mission is to make child labour and modern slavery stop. And OF COURSE we want to help and perhaps you GRIMlings also want to give someone Christmas treats, where you know the product is good all the way through the supply chain.
In this cold and boring winter weather, being warm is important. So, why not give a t-shirt, a wool sweater, gloves, a hat or anything basic, where you’re assured that there’s a little footprint. Organic Basics make sustainable basic wear focusing on underwear. They measure the impact of your clothing while being transparent about how their clothes impact the environment. This a perfect gift for any of your loved ones, because who doesn’t love good-looking and comfy underwear!
3. BUY AN UGLY CHRISTMAS THREE
Every year, plenty of Christmas trees don’t get the chance to shine in someone’s living room.? Instead, they all too often land directly in the garbage. In Denmark, 12 million trees are produced annually, which is twice the population! And why do many of them end up in the trash? Because they are not perfect, because they have a crooked top or too few branches. Sounds quite similar to the story of our ugly veggies…
To change this, buy one of these imperfect trees. Buy your Christmas tree from local farms to reduce transport. Many Danish Christmas trees get exported to Germany. Look for organic farms who plant their trees without pesticides, for example in Denmark the farm Jul til døren.
Natural Christmas trees are more sustainable than plastic trees as they are often cultivated on land that isn’t good enough for anything else. Moreover it takes 7 years to grow a 2-meter tree, during this time it’s acting as a carbon sink and trapping CO2.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a plastic tree, which can be reused, is more sustainable! For production far more energy is needed and they are mostly made from non-renewable petroleum based products and plastic.
If you have a garden or a huge balcony, the best option is to buy a potted tree that you can keep growing :)
4. TREE DECORATION
Decorate your perfectly ugly tree with natural materials. For example, pine cones, branches with berries, chillies and dried oranges actually look great on the tree! You can easily dry your leftover oranges to decorate your tree. Slice them into 1-2 cm slices, pat them dry and put them into a low oven (120 degrees) for about three hours. Turn them every half hour and put them on a metal cooling rack over a baking tray that they don’t burn or stick. That’s it!
5. SUSTAINABLE WRAPPING
Six trees are cut to make a ton of paper. This means that about 50,000 trees are used to make the 8,250 tonnes of paper consumed at Christmas. 50,000 trees! DEFRA also estimated that only in the UK, 83 square km of wrapping paper ended up in rubbish bins.
SO, do us all a favour and get more creative when wrapping those gifts. Perhaps you can use one of these easy tips:
Use old grocery bags, recycled paper, or your favourite pair of old ripped jeans
Use newspaper. Let’s say you have a stack of newspapers lying around at home. Why not get creative with them, before they end up in the trash. It’s both an easy wrapping solution and it's very sustainable.
Use towels or leftovers from your latest sewing session for wrapping: You might be surprised how beautiful fabrics can look as wrapping. You can also get inspired by the traditional Japanese Furoshiki wrapping method, that use fabrics for wrapping, carrying or transporting things.
Turn old toilet paper rolls into small pillow boxes. Surprisingly enough, you can use toilet paper rolls for a lot of things. For instance, make a little pot for your microgreens or bird feed or as wrapping! All you have to do is press each side of the roll towards the middle. This should create a small box, that looks like a pillow. Decorate your box with a ribbon, your favourite herb or dried Eat Grim fruits.
273,000 wasted turkeys, thousands of discarded ugly Christmas trees and hundreds of square km of wrapping paper - these numbers are horrible and they show that everyone has to change their Christmas standards.
Surprise people at Christmas with a sustainable gift rather than buy some material thing that they won’t use anyways. Buy a Christmas Gift Box and make the Christmas decor yourself. But most importantly of all this Christmas is to be together with your closest friends or family, remembering all the things that are important to you. Think about how your habits influence something bigger than yourself but environmentally and health-wise.
By following some of the given tips we can all contribute to more sustainability during the Christmas season - and beyond. If everyone starts to break one or more of our wasteful traditions we all can make a difference. And we are sure, your family and friends will love you even more by daring to have an ugly Christmas. And don’t forget to send us pictures of your ugly Christmas tree. ;)
MERRY UGLY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
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