Christmas, the most wasteful.. ehh wonderful time of the year

Christmas is THE time of the year to get together, drink a lot, eat a lot, and spend a lot. We can probably all relate to the situation of dragging our slightly too-full-selves from one julefrokost to the next during December, wishing for it all to end, while at the same time looking forward to another round of sild, frikadeller and sylte. Yuuuum. 

Let's be honest: isn't it nice to be indulgent? After all, it's just one little month of the year, and the year has 11 other months where self-control, healthy eating and restrictions rule. So fuck it, right? Someone might eventually give you that gym membership or juice detox you actually need. 

Press rewind for a sec and just think what the “spirit of Christmas” was originally intended to be: we're encouraged to be joyful, charitable, generous, kind, reflecting and forgiving - which are all behaviors that run counter to our inclined responses to the stresses caused by holiday festivities, preparations and shopping. Think: do you really need to buy new Christmas tree decorations every year? Do you really need to make flæskesteg on Christmas eve when you are already invited to the exact same thing at your Dad's, Aunts or friend’s house the coming days?

But Christmas has become exactly that: an perverted opportunity for us all to not give a fuck and simply overdo it. To be ok with bad behaviour, to stop thinking about the future for a second and just living in the moment. Because, hey, a bad conscience is for January, right? 

But not so fast. Let's try to not end the year like hypocrites for once and instead act like the humans we eventually want to become in the New Year, also during the Christmas season. It actually doesn't take too much change, but if you switch up your habits here and there just a little bit, it can actually make a change.

So here they come: our GRIM tips to a less wasteful Christmas. Are you ready?

1. Get an ugly Christmas tree

An "ugly" Christmas tree in a home

Every year, plenty of Christmas trees don’t get the chance to shine in someone’s living room. Can you imagine how bad these trees must feel? They look forward to get decorated in someone’s hyggeligt living room, and what happens? They land directly on the garbage. In Denmark, 12 million trees are produced annually, more than 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 GRIM veggies… 

  • Change this and buy one of these imperfect trees, your saved tree will be so happy that it will shine even brighter! 

  • 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 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 :)

2. Tree decoration 

Decorate your GRIM tree with natural materials. For example, pine cones, branches with berries, chillies and 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!

Close-up of a dried orange slice

3. Have an ugly Christmas dinner with less meat & more seasonal GRIM veggies 

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.

Tips for a Danish Christmas dinner and Julefrokost, the GRIM way

Two different GRIM veggie boxes with the produce spread out across the floor

  • Potatoes are an indispensable ingredient in Danish cuisine, but you can also combine them by preparing a full baking tray with various vegetables. Fill the tray with potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, Brussels sprouts,.... add some salt, pepper, rosemary and olive oil - done! 

  • Risotto or Spätze with beetroot are also great as a side dish with your fried pork or duck! If you like it in a vegetarian way, you can easily serve it as a main course. 

  • Top your risengrød with baked plums, the best thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the plums up to two weeks in advance.

  • Maybe it’s time for another Christmas dessert, for example a pear tart with mascarpone-vanilla cream, yummy!! 

A pear tart served on a table next to fresh pears

3. Store your leftovers right

We all know how tricky it is to cook for many guests - How much do we need to buy? Yes, there are recipes to follow, but to be sure that it’s enough (and impressive-looking), we tend to overbuy and overcook, which ends up with lots of food waste. So, store your leftovers right! Try to make some space in your freezer and your fridge before Christmas to store leftovers in the following days. Or how about doggy bags for guests? Restaurants already started introducing this sustainable dinner practice, why not you? Portion the leftovers into containers for your guests to take home. If everyone has just a little box it can easily be eaten during the coming days. 

And, don’t worry about getting bored eating the same dish for 3 days in a row… thanks to plantjammer! The app lets you type in leftover ingredients and by machine learning, spits out creative and delicious recipe ideas - so easypeasy!

4. Give sustainable Christmas gifts

Think about the presents you give and don’t just waste your money with useless gifts. 

Self-made gifts 

Self-made gifts are a little old school, we admit that, but great to impress your family! Homemade food gifts are a great (and cheap) alternative. There are many dishes that can be prepare far ahead of time - when it actually suits your schedule -  so you don’t have to stress during the last days before Christmas. For example, granola, orange sirup or pickled onions? These recipes are so easy and quick to make and taste fantastic.

An image of apple sirup next to an image of pickled red onions

Gift a GRIM box subscription and give a useful present - for once!

Christmas time is also a stressful time for many of us, before the holidays are coming we have to finish all our tasks at work, we “must” go to several Julefrokosts, or we need to bake cookies for our children’s school-Christmas market. If you don’t have time left for self-made gifts, there are more possibilities for sustainable Christmas gifts. 

Did you know that you can also give our GRIM box as a gift to someone? Hell yes! By giving a GRIM box to your family and friends, you can be sure to buy groceries with minimal and reusable packaging, support farmers directly rather than rich retailers, eat healthy food (everything is organic and seasonal) and you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or inspiration for what to cook with your ugly veggies (we give you recipe ideas). 

In short, gifting a GRIM box subscription makes it easy for people to start ACTING sustainably without having to put extra effort into researching different options - we all know how hard it can be to get started in changing behaviour. So what are you waiting for? Check out the different gift options here :)

5. Sustainable packaging

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. You can use old grocery bags, recycled paper, newspaper, or your favourite pair of old ripped jeans. Another tip: Save your gift bags and papers of this year to use them again next year. Here are some more packaging ideas. :) 

Another advantage of your self-made gifts? You don’t have a lot of plastic packaging. Just use some old glasses, you can decorate them with some natural material like pine cones, rosemary or cinnamon sticks. 

Examples of sustainable gift packaging, using pine cones and other parts of nature


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 some F*** Christmas standards!

For sure, the uglier your Christmas dinner is, the better you will feel - and it will taste great! 

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 a GRIM Christmas. Make this an event for the whole family: task your kids to find the ugliest Christmas tree when out shopping for one, save interesting newspaper articles for gift wrapping and come up with creative ideas on how to repurpose your leftovers for julepynte. And don’t forget to send us pictures of your ugly Christmas tree. ;)