Gahner Lykkeberg Holm

We asked some young people in Copenhagen to share their thoughts on life, creativity and sustainability.



Article | 05:00 min read

Portrait of

Gahner Lykkeberg Holm


Copenhagen, Denmark

Still photography by

Frederik Kjeldgaard

“We don’t want to live on Mars. We just want to be here.”

My name is Gahner. I’m 20 years old and I’m studying sustainable fashion technology.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in a small town 30 kilometers outside of Copenhagen in a collective with 30 families living together. We had dinner together every night. It was pretty wholesome for the first couple years, and then my parents got divorced.

Lots of problems came up in my world. Yeah, I’ve had some difficult years.

The area has become more urbanized now, but when we moved there I remember there were fields with pigs and cows and tractors in the backyard and there were chickens coming into our garden. We lived right next to an ecological farming collective called Munksøgård.

I think the most amazing part about it was that I could just go outside and just say, “Bye, I’m leaving now”, and my mom would trust me to go anywhere I wanted to. I had friends my own age everywhere I went. There was a field of sheep and lambs, which was very wholesome. There were so many possibilities for a small child. It was very secure. The same things happened every day, so as I got older it became more and more boring.

Do you have any special memories that shaped you?

There’s a lot of things that have shaped me, and the most common thing would always be to say, Oh, my parents got divorced and it was very difficult, and there were a lot of years where I had to go on by myself and take care of myself.

But I think what’s most important is that all these difficulties throughout my life, have really taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned to read myself and read my own thoughts and feelings.

What is important to you?

I had a lot of years where I didn’t have control over my own life or my own thoughts, and nobody understood what was going on. I did a lot of damage to myself, both physically and mentally.

I’ve been talking with people and doctors for around five years now and I just had my last consultation last week. It’s the first time I’m actually on my own, and it’s really incredible.

Right now, it’s important for me just to be happy. To not have to do something only because I’m supposed to do it, but because I want to do it. I’ve not always been able to do that throughout my life, but I’ve come to a place now where I really feel like I can be happy.

What makes you happy?

I think structure makes me happy in some way. It also makes me happy to be around people who feel good about themselves, or people I have an impact on and they have an impact on me. I like togetherness. Being around people is a big part of my happiness.

And being able to love myself and see myself in a good light.

Do you have a memory of a moment that made you realize something about yourself?

I became a person that wasn’t always the nicest to my friends or my surroundings. I was very occupied with myself because I couldn’t handle other people’s thoughts and feelings. I hurt a lot of people.

I try not to set too many goals because I’m so scared of not completing them. I’m scared of not being good enough and not being able to live up to the expectations that I’ve had throughout my life. Setting goals has to be done in very small steps.

You have a lot of plants in your apartments?

It’s giving life. It’s something I can take care of in some way. I think I’ve made 10 plants from the mother plant and have given them to friends as gifts. It’s giving new life. It looks different every time. There’s a lot of emotion, it’s like little living creatures and I’m the reason that it’s living and blooming and growing. I’m able to give it new life.

What is nature to you? 

It’s what keeps us alive. It’s moving and changing and it should be growing, but it’s not. It’s decreasing because we’re using it.

What is sustainability to you?

I think that’s a very hard question. I think for me, it’s to look at how we can make the best world both for people who are living right now and for those in the future.

It’s important to make sure that the things we buy, the things we have, come from a good place. Not that focusing on the environmental impacts is not important, but sometimes I feel that we are focusing in the wrong places. It seems like something is getting forgotten. 

Everyone should have a decent life under their circumstances. And what’s a decent life? That’s a hard question, and there’s no one solution. I think that we can push some things that give a purpose of work, a purpose of earning your own money in a way that is thoughtful and in a way that is good for people, that isn’t damaging.

It’s a solution that we have to come up with. New products have to be more appealing than non-sustainable ones. And I don’t think that code has been cracked yet. As you can see, it’s all falling apart. We need better, sustainable production solutions in this world of buying, buying, buying.

I try to do what I can do by myself because I think that is the first step. People have to start with themselves by eating sustainably or by buying used clothes or old furniture.

Living sustainably makes me happy, and I just wonder when it’s going to make more people happy to live more sustainably. I think that’s at the core – it has to give you happiness to live sustainably.

I want to show you a picture. It’s not manipulated in any way. It´s Earth and it´s taken from the International Space Station. What do you feel when you look at this photo?

It’s interesting because I want to laugh, but I also get incredibly sad. It’s like a downward facing Moon in some way. If we were to give it a face it would look sad, but it’s from space, you know, so it’s glowing. It seems like something that has life on it, and it’s worth preserving.

So you say it makes you happy to live sustainably. How?

I think that I take a stand with my opinions, and I decided that this is what I’m going to do. I’m not going to eat meat because it’s not good for nature, especially in the way we’re doing it now. And that’s the decision I made. I choose to do certain things in my life, and I’m certain those choices make me happy.

What is unique about this planet?

I think what’s unique is what humans have brought to this planet, what we created, and what horrible mistakes we’ve made.

I haven’t see that or heard of that before. And I think that it’s incredible that we can form a planet. We can form our future if we wanted to.

What are your hopes for the coming generations?

I hope they will learn that taking care of the planet is not giving up on anything else, it’s just giving for yourself and for the way you live.

For some people it’s uncool to be sustainable. I don’t think it’s uncool, but I think that some people just don’t understand it and think that it’s stupid. I think it’s because they think it means they should compromise the way they live, and that’s a very mistaken thought.

Why can’t we see it as, OK, I’m going to choose these things because it may give me an even longer, healthier life, and it also gives something back to the Earth and future generations. We don’t want to live on Mars. We just want to be here.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I hope for a world where people and nature can unify in some way. Cities and urbanized countries need to live with and in nature and nature needs to be brought back to cities and houses. It needs to be respected.

Nature is so beautiful, it’s what created us.