The depths of winter don’t have to be all doom and gloom — for you or the environment. It’s true that with the holidays over, it can feel like there’s nothing to do but binge-watch Netflix until spring. Additionally, many of the winter sports people turn to — such as skiing and snowboarding — are nowhere near as eco-friendly as they appear. Consider how much energy these resorts consume — or the amount of carbon emissions visitors produce when traveling to these secluded destinations. (Never mind that these sports can disrupt local wildlife in their habitats.)
But the reality is, while January is a notoriously slow month, it’s also the perfect time to dive into new activities that are fun for you as well as gentle on the planet. So, make your great escape from the doldrums of the season with these 10 eco-friendly winter activities — and if you’re heading out for a weekend of play, remember to bring along our eco-friendly laundry strips, which pack light and pack plenty of cleaning power.
Get a new gym membership
If one of your New Year’s resolutions involves fitness, kickstart it with a membership at a green gym. These gyms find ways to reduce energy consumption and water usage while focusing on products safe for both human and planet health. If you don’t want to commit to a gym membership, thrift some second-hand workout materials — yoga mat, resistance bands and weights, to name a few — and pull up YouTube or workout apps for a budget-friendly alternative to green gyms.
Learn a new instrument
Embrace the winter blues by strumming the ole’ guitar strings. Or perhaps there’s an instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Head to a local shop (many cities sell second-hand instruments at trade stores) to pick up the instrument of your choice along with a beginner’s guide to get you started. From there, you can utilize free online resources, get a virtual music teacher, or find one in your area. Talent comes with practice, and the slow pace of winter makes it a wonderful time to get started.
This eco-friendly winter activity isn’t just for kids. It’s an activity perfect for the whole family — or a couple on a date. Plus, let’s not forget the cardio you get from running back up the hill for another go. Combine this with the adrenaline of sliding down the hillside, and this is a phenomenal stress reliever. Once you’re chilled to the core, head back for hot chocolate, warm cider, or baked treats. And just like that, you’ve embraced winter to the max.
Host a board game night
Gather your pals for a night of friendly competition! Watch the snowfall from your kitchen table as you play board games with good drinks and even better company. Stick to classics like Clue, Sorry, or Catan. Or let loose with newer games like Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, or What Do You Meme. Enliven the evening further by making homemade drinks and an eco-friendly charcuterie board — using local produce and sustainable products — while turning up your favorite dinner party Spotify playlist.
Enjoy a museum day
Winter is a fantastic time to visit museums. The weather outside is frightful, but the museums are so delightful. Instead of heading to the city for a crazed end-of-season-sale shopping spree, take in modern art, historic Renaissance sculptures, or wander through an immersive science exhibit. This is an easy, insightful, and often-cultural activity that is kind to the planet.
Indulge in a weekend away
Maybe you live somewhere that just isn’t quite the snowy winter wonderland you’re looking for or it’s just too cold. Whatever it may be, take a road trip (or train journey if it’s available to you!), and head someplace new with your partner, best friend, mother-in-law — whatever!
Just ensure you’re being conscious about your carbon emissions, choose a sustainable boutique hotel or accommodation, and enjoy eco-friendly activities along the way — from nature walks to snowshoeing in the mountains to sitting down for dinner at an eco-friendly local restaurant.
Kickstart your spring cleaning
Get ready for the change of season by cleaning out some clutter or putting unused items to good use. The goal here is not to throw anything in the trash. Instead, donate as much as you can, mend damaged items, and compost/recycle as a last resort. This is a wonderful eco-friendly activity in winter that helps you reorganize your life, release stress, and feel better at home. You may not realize how much unnecessary clutter can affect your mental health.
Pick up a book
When is the last time you read a book? A lot of make more time for Netflix or Hulu than the physical books many of those movies or series are based on. You’ve probably wanted to get into reading again — many of us have that pull toward something old and familiar — so why not head to your local bookshop (independent is better than chains!), and meander around until you find your ideal book?
You can also check out online blogs, Goodreads, or ask a bookshop employee if you need some inspiration. We recommend finding a comfy spot in the shop and reading a few pages to make sure it’s a good fit. This way it doesn’t just attract dust at home.
Get all ‘hygge’
If you’ve not heard of the Danish concept of coziness, now you have. “Hygge” is derived from the same word as the English “hug,” pronounced “hoo-guh,” and is essentially that cozy feeling that comes from life’s simple pleasures. Besides, the Danes are well-accustomed to long, dark, and frigid winters, yet many look forward to the season just for the ‘hygge’ of it all.
So, if you want to practice ‘hygge’ at home this winter season, it’s wonderfully eco-friendly! Put your phone or gadgets away and settle in. Read a book, play a card game, slow cook a warm stew, bake gingerbread cookies, and light scentless soy/beeswax taper candles.
You can get your ‘hygge’ on solo, with friends, with family, or with a special someone. You’ll quickly realize how much you can enjoy winter after all.
Moments of reflection are vital to our mental health, and the gloominess of winter may have you feeling down. While many of these activities offer a serotonin boost, there is something particularly cathartic about journaling.
Get a sustainable refillable pen, a good journal (a lot of thrift stores have second journals and notebooks that have never been used) and start writing about whatever springs to mind — whether it’s reflections on the day you just had, goals for the year, poems, or simply the things in life you’re grateful for. Remember, you don’t have to censor yourself — it’s for your eyes only anyway.