Encouraging sustainable lifestyles with 14 Finnish municipalities

The acceleration of sustainable lifestyles continues, and accelerates, in Finland. In autumn and winter 2019-2020, in total about 250 households in 14 municipalities around Southern and Central Finland enrolled to plan and try out sustainable lifestyle choices for reducing their carbon and material footprints.

D-mat organized ten roadmapping workshops together with the municipalities involved. In the workshops, we got together with households to play the 1.5-Degree Lifestyle Puzzle to find lifestyle changes and plan a roadmap for each household in its unique situation. The atmosphere in the workshops was positive and encouraging: the participants selected an impressive amount of new actions for making their life more sustainable. The participants found the lifestyle puzzle highly motivating. In several municipalities local companies pitched their products or services that enable more sustainable lifestyles and the participants had the opportunity to make use of them during their experiments. Several households also presented their ideas and motivations in news articles in local and national media.

After the roadmapping workshop, households tested actions they had chosen. The results of these experiments were presented in ”future workshops” where the participants reflected and discussed what they learned where they faced challenges. The participants also had the possibility to address suggestions and wishes to their own municipality as well as to private companies about new services and other support that would help them make their lifestyles more sustainable.

The results show that households can, in short term, drop their carbon footprints by 10–20 % on average. The level of carbon footprint mitigation of households was also influenced by the ability to engage in experiments in the midst of everyday life with all its events and coincidences. Also the extent of creating an atmosphere of community in the project and encouraging each other were crucial for the participants.

The experimentation of decreasing carbon and material footprints will continue with municipalities and broader audiences in Finland. The Covid-19 situation affects traditional workshops, but the upcoming Susla app – SLA’s tool for footprinting and experimenting sustainable lifestyle actions – will enable online engagement also during the times of physical distancing. The interest in sustainable lifestyles is constantly growing.

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* Photo: D-mat