Climate change is one of the central drivers of change affecting quality of life globally. The city of Helsinki has set an aim to reduce emissions by 60 percent by the year 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2035. This shift requires both major structural changes and everyday actions. Individual choices matter – in order to stop further climate warming, every Finn should reduce their carbon footprint from 10.3 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes by the year 2030.
The Think Sustainably service helps to choose more sustainable ways of living in Helsinki and enjoying the city. It filters content from the MyHelsinki.fi website to suggest sustainable services, such as restaurants, shops, sights, events and accommodation.
The version launched in June 2019 is a pilot service and it involves a limited number of operators. It will be further developed to include sustainable choices from restaurants to mobility.
The Think Sustainably Criteria as the Base for the Service
The base of the service is in tailor-made criteria for the city of Helsinki that have been developed together with the independent think tank Demos Helsinki, along with local interest groups and sustainability experts. The criteria highlight ecological sustainability and specifically address climate change while also considering social sustainability. The purpose of the criteria is to filter out service providers working in a sustainable manner and to encourage operators to develop their function further.
Service providers are responsible for evaluating their own services in terms of meeting the criteria in their respective service category. If a service provider meets the minimum requirements in their category, it can then be classified as a sustainable choice on the MyHelsinki portal.
The service providers who have met the required criteria are marked with a green tab and website visitors can examine more in-depth which criteria were fulfilled and which not. The purpose is not to pinpoint who are the straight-A students, but rather to encourage different operators to find an impressive array of solutions that encourage customers and visitors to engage in more sustainable lifestyles.
The process of developing the service included researching the most significant factors of ecological sustainability related to different service categories. These dealt mostly with greenhouse emissions caused by energy production and the impacts of mobility and food. In addition, waste management, factors related to circular economy, protecting biodiversity, accessibility, employment and preventing discrimination were considered. The criteria, though only in its pilot phase, has already encouraged several service providers to make changes such as switching energy and heating contracts to environmentally friendlier ones.
The aim of the criteria was also to be accessible to many different types of service providers because everyone should have the opportunity to be part of a bigger wave of change. True impact is brought about when a large and diverse group participates in it each through their own actions.
Customers and visitors can give feedback on the success of the provider through the same website.