Life, Lagom, and Living Greener

Trends / Sustainability
Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick
Mar 31, 2022
Candles. Fuzzy blankets. Oversized sweatshirts. Just an inappropriate quantity of couch pillows. That is my idea of hygge, the Danish concept surrounding the concept of homeliness, safety and contentment, and more popularly, comfort[1]. Complimentary to hygge, lagom is a “Swedish word used to describe the perfect state when something is neither too much, nor too little, it is just enough to make you satisfied”[2]. Scandinavian countries are known to be the happiest in the world, even amidst the COVID‑19 pandemic[3]. In my opinion, anywhere that’s deemed the happiest place in the world despite months of subzero temperatures is a country to take note of.

Why does this matter for businesses? Common sustainability practices such as recycling, using less water, and conserving electricity are also lagom[4]. Sure, that may be true, but a lot of popular visuals at Getty Images tend to rely on conventional tropes. Almost 60% of popular sustainability visuals revolve around recycling, which, while popular, is not the only way to be eco‑friendly. Many popular visuals are conceptual, and feature nature and plant life or alternative energy sources. But more than half of Americans only buy from brands that make an effort to be eco‑friendly, and those with a higher income are more likely to do so. Featuring images of lagom practices can not only present a different representation of sustainability outside of the norm but demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices as well.
While lagom has been admired for being the epitome of minimalist Scandinavian design (looking at you, Ikea[5]), a large part of lagom is its relationship with nature. Looking at the natural beauty of Sweden, it’s not hard to see why many of its inhabitants spend a good deal of time outdoors, even in the cold of winter (hello, Northern Lights). But as I learned, the relationship with lagom far extends enjoying some quality time outside. According to Iberdola, “Lagom promotes an intimate relationship with nature and encourages awareness of the human role in achieving a more sustainable planet”[6]. So, what does lagom and a sustainable lifestyle look like? It goes beyond minimalist aesthetic and clean lines. The environment impact of lagom [is positive]. Buying less, wasting less, and using what you have are excellent ways to live sustainably and live lagom[7].
Visual GPS reveals that after recycling, people believe reusing, repairing, or purchasing secondhand is the second‑best way to make a positive impact on the planet, which turns out to be a very lagom practice.
Even your diet can be sustainably lagom. According to Visual GPS, almost half of Americans already consciously eat and buy food that is good and sustainable for the planet. “When it comes to food, lagom means everything in moderation. […] Nordic cultures are known for a well‑rounded diet including whole grains, fish and vegetables. But they’re not opposed to their treats either including a mid‑day coffee and a sweet treat for Fika, a daily Swedish ritual”[7].

These ingredients can be purchased from local markets or stores, which not only supports the local community but contributes to lagom’s connection with nature. “It is easy to find and buy organic food, and [Swedish people] are dedicated to buying locally produced food to support small businesses. Food transportation from non‑local distributors can take time, and as a result, the food is not fresh once it reaches the store. Transportation also contributes to pollution which also encourage the Swedish to buy locally”[2].
There are other ways people can practice lagom and help reduce their carbon footprint, living sustainably. Remember when the pandemic forced us all to rethink our relationships with technology[8]? We all took up hobbies that prompted us away from our screens: baking, crafting, gardening[2]…guess what? Lagom.  Renovating your home instead of buying new construction, growing your own herbs, upcycling furniture, and going true your annual spring cleaning/Marie Kondo phase – both lagom and sustainable.
 As our Visual GPS[9] research tells us, recycling is the main way that people contribute to protecting the environment, and almost 3 in 5 people take steps every day to reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, 88% of people in the US would practice a sustainable lifestyle if it cost them the same or less than what they’re paying today, and people say that the main reason they are prevented from sustainable practices because they’re too expensive. Lagom shows us that maybe it’s not.
[1] The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (Meik Wiking)
[2] Living Lagom: A Swedish Guide to a Balanced Life (Maya Thoresen)
[3] The 20 Happiest Countries in the World (Forbes)
[4] The Scandinavian Guide to Happiness (Tim Bayborn)
[5] The Lagom Collection (Ikea)
[6] Lagom, The Swedish recipe for happiness (Iberdola)
[7] What is Lagom? (Modern Cabin Living)
[8] Our Life Offline (Creative Insights, Getty Images)
[9] Visual GPS (Getty Images)
Slow Travel in the USA