“My after all, no one takes milk! ” Nico Leokratis ejaculate.
A little joking and laughing, but partly also serious. When discussing climate action with 52-year-old Leokratis, he occasionally bursts into “vegan uplifting” or “rocky hipsters”.
However, he is enthusiastic about at least one climate theme.
A few years ago, Leokratis proposed replacing the yard lights in his condominium with LED lights and planned a light renovation. When the rental housing company was agreed, the company’s electricity bill was reduced by almost a third, he said. It indicates a reduction in electricity consumption.
“There is quite a bit of talk about such human-sized solutions. About things that an individual or family can really do. ”
Although yes, there has been talk of citizens’ climate actions – perhaps even to the extent that many are getting bored, says the development manager Ari Nissinen About the Finnish Environment Institute.
“Guidelines are given, and people may implement them for a short time, but whether they are systematically followed for many years,” he wonders.
While climate-saving choices are constantly being made easier, in the big picture, the changes should be significant and in a hurry. On Monday, the climate panel IPCC published its new sub-report, which further emphasized the urgency of climate action.
Read more: “We are in a very big hurry,” says a Finnish expert – Significant climate report: 1.5 degree target requires carbon neutrality by 2050
One bend in the journey is perhaps people’s desire for comfort and established habits. There is also no one-size-fits-all recipe for reducing your carbon footprint. According to a recent study by Sitra, the Finnish Independence Fund, the most influential actions for the average Finn are the use of public transport, a vegan diet and the purchase of an electric car. However, they are not the best or even possible means for everyone.
“Sustainable living doesn’t look the same for everyone,” says the leading expert Sari Laine From Sitra’s sustainable everyday team.
“One should look at actions appropriate to one’s starting situation, start small and continue to make more ambitious changes.”
The easiest choices are often those that your everyday life supports anyway.
Nico Leokratis, who lives in Porolahti, Helsinki, usually takes care of everyday matters on foot or by public transport. He borrows a car when, for example, he goes to an acquaintance’s cottage for forestry work.
47 years old Jani Marjamaan the family, in turn, began a food renovation a couple of years ago. The idea came from, among other things, an online magazine story where you were allowed to calculate your carbon footprint.
A family of five began to reduce red meat for both climatic and health reasons. Coffee milk changed to oat milk.
“It so happened that the red meat left off surprisingly quickly. No good substitute has been found, mainly for the sister sausage guide, ”says Marjamaa, who lives in Helsinki.
“Meat is no longer needed, and it doesn’t even taste good. I really surprised myself. ”
The eight-kilometer commute now also folds by bike. During cottage trips and grocery shopping, the family still uses the car, but usually refuels with biodiesel.
“These choices are easy to make when you get more out of them. Get exercise and eating has become healthier. With the exception of the price of biodiesel, I do not feel that we have made any compromises, ”says Marjamaa.
Renunciation indeed, people often feel awkward. Therefore, Sari Laine would rather talk about what can be brought to life more – for example, sustainable exercise, the share of vegetables on a plate or alternative energy sources.
“Flying is perhaps the only thing where giving up comes up,” he says.
Marjamaa also thinks that the most difficult thing would be to compromise on leisure flights and occasional pleasure rides on a motorcycle.
“Yes, flying is so overwhelmingly easy. Admittedly, we like to travel a little longer at a time, ”he says.
Leokratis has started eating more vegetables for health reasons, but he does not give up coffee milk or meat meals.
“The most annoying thing is blaming carnivores and demanding that meat should be given up altogether,” he says.
Leokratis thinks that even middle-aged men are more open to vegetarian food, for example, if counseling is not to blame but attracts experimentation.
“Many of my acquaintances are annoyed by the vegan rampage. Many feel that if the diet is interfered with, it penetrates too personal an area, ”he says.
“Many feel that if the diet is interfered with, it will penetrate too personal an area.”
Actually, climate goals don’t even require giving up meat altogether.
“According to our research, when it comes to diet, it would be enough for everyone to become 75% vegan. That would mean that you could eat quality meat and cheese on weekends, for example, ”says Laine.
All improvements do not even require lifestyle changes. For example, the transfer of an electricity contract to renewable energy is a small but impressive act.
In the front house of Jani Marjamaa’s family, heat leaked to the magpies before the insulation was renewed. The family has wondered if heat or electricity could be obtained by more sustainable means.
“We have been considering building a ground source heat pump on the site. I would love to put solar panels on the roof, but there is a huge birch in the shade in front, ”says Marjamaa.
Nico Leokratis cannot make major renovations to his rental apartment. However, he has also replaced his own lamps with LED lights and a newer model of electric cancer washing machine, as well as adjusted the flow of the water tap to be more economical.
“I’ve been able to reduce my electricity bill by about 30 percent without changing my usage habits,” he says.
Sari Laine and Ari Nissinen estimate that, for example, the renewal of electrical equipment is a good start, but it would also be good to look at lifestyles.
“You also have to make lifestyle changes if you really want to do things one and a half degrees [ilmastotavoitteen] forward, ”Laine says.
How how much do the food or exercise choices of the average citizen really affect?
“Consumers alone will not solve this, but yes, consumer choices matter,” says Nissinen.
“No matter how much plant products or other low-emission products are produced, suddenly their supply runs out at the counter if they are not purchased. Citizens also play an important role in what kind of laws politicians dare to enact, ”he continues.
“Citizens play an important role in what kind of laws politicians dare to enact.”
Another general argument concerns the fact that Finland is an insignificant gambler in global arenas. However, Nissisen emphasizes that Finland, with its technological know-how and innovations, is a larger player in the world.
According to Laine, Finns can also set an example to the rest of the world that life can be both high-quality and ecologically sustainable.
“That people in developing countries would not make the same carbon footprint journey as we have done, but would jump directly into a sustainable lifestyle,” Laine ponders.
Also Leokratis and Marjamaa believe that even an ordinary person can make an impact.
“Yes, the impact of an individual citizen is small, but if most do something, then the impact is already significant. The message to decision makers is also a really important thing, ”says Marjamaa.
Leokratis, for example, has led his friends to switch to more energy-efficient lights or appliances. According to Sari Laine, everyday discussions in a good spirit are the most effective way to change attitudes, if political or organizational influence is not your own thing.
“It’s often said that only politicians or business leaders can really make an impact, but they are people too. I believe that systemic change can also start at the grassroots level, as long as enough people join. ”
This can be used to reduce the everyday carbon footprint, for example
1. Reduce driving and flying
If you live in an area of comprehensive public transportation, take advantage of it. Short trips can be made by bicycle or electric bike.
If you’re driving, take care of several things on the same trip and consider carpooling.
When buying a car, pay attention to emissions. If an electric, hybrid, or low-emission car feels too expensive, choosing a smaller car can reduce emissions.
If you are traveling, consider changing routes or destinations to reduce flights and mileage. The train in particular is an ecological option.
2. Check your home’s energy consumption
Transfer the electricity contract to electricity produced from renewable energy.
Keep the home temperature reasonably cool. Ventilate with cross draft rather than keeping the windows open for a long time.
Replace old bulbs with LED bulbs.
Find out how electricity consumption is distributed in your household. Are the devices on unnecessarily even when not in use? For example, underfloor heating in a bathroom is often an energy bunch.
If you live in a detached house, consider whether, for example, oil heating could be replaced by geothermal heat or another type of heat pump could be installed. In an apartment building, you can try to influence the heating solutions through the board of the housing association.
3. Look at the shopping bag – and especially the food basket
In the diet, meat and dairy products are the biggest climate burdens. One way to reduce them is to strive for vegetarian food on weekdays and choose a vegetarian option, for example, for lunch.
Try different vegetable recipes and products. Large retail chains have recipe services that allow you to add ingredients directly to your shopping list.
Prefer low-emission items and think about what you really need.
Avoid disposable items. For example, favor durable products in clothing and furniture that can be repaired and recycled.
If you invest in stocks or funds, support sustainable companies with clear climate goals.
The tips have been put together Finnish Environment Institute Development Manager Ari Nissinen and Sari Laine, Sitra’s leading expert comments and from Sitra’s 100 Smart Everyday Things website.