Helsinki is a model city of sustainable development

Women biking past the trash bins in Kalasatama
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Ecological thinking is strongly present in everyday life in Helsinki, and the city places great emphasis on encouraging environmentally-friendly lifestyles. An atmosphere that motivates less consumption, construction efforts that consider sustainable development, and ambitious climate aims make Helsinki a model city of sustainable development.

Nature is strongly felt in everyday life in Helsinki. The residential areas surrounded by parks, forests and the sea remind visitors and residents of their everyday choices as contributors to environmentally friendly development. The development of public transportation, waste recycling and decreasing unnecessary consumption are all key components for making Helsinki into a city of smart and sustainable living. 

Decreasing emissions and aiming for a carbon-neutral Helsinki

Households and private individuals are encouraged to make ecological everyday choices, but climate-related actions are also being taken by the city on a larger scale. Helsinki's current climate goals are significantly more ambitious than the rest of Finland or the EU region. 

The goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2035 was introduced already in The City of Helsinki's strategy for 2017-2021. Since then the strategy has been adjusted and today Helsinki’s goal is to be carbon neutral in 2030, to zero emissions by 2040 and to be carbon negative after that. 

To make the change possible, the city has updated the Carbon neutral Helsinki emission reduction program (pdf) in the fall of 2022. In the updated program, special attention has been paid to the effectiveness of the measures. The measures will be updated annually in the future. You can follow the implementation of the program’s measures and emission reductions on this page.

The city's influence doesn't cover all the emissions generated in Helsinki. Most of both direct and indirect emissions are caused by the living, transport and consumption of Helsinki residents. The city encourages reducing emissions by, for example, keeping public transport working and making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to travel in the city. The reduction of emissions from motor vehicles is being pursued through, for instance, developing light traffic routes and rail connections.

Man charging his electric car
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Recycling in Helsinki is easy and fun   

Helsinki and its residents are also aiming to reduce lavish over-consumption. A number of citizen initiative are tackling this problem. Facebook has many citizen-run neighbourhood and category-specific recycling groups where old belongings easily find a new owner with the click of a mouse.  

Not everything needs to be bought new, and not everything needs to be owned: the city libraries offer facilities for example for 3D printing. They also lend out many kinds of tools and accessories, from drills to pétanque sets to take to the park. Check out the incredible offering at the new central library Oodi.  

Several flea markets and recycling centres in the Helsinki region are downright treasure chests. One can make high-quality finds such as designer clothing and furniture even at low prices. In addition to the joy of finding something special, you can be happy in the knowledge that many recycling shops direct their profits to national or international charity work. 

The flea markets fill up in spring and summer especially and anyone can recycle their old things and make some pocket money while doing so. 

It's a sunny day and people are browsing through a variety of items at a Hietalahti Flea Market stall. Hietalahti Market Hall cann be seen in the background.
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Ecological thinking is strongly present in everyday life in Helsinki, and the city places great emphasis on encouraging environmentally-friendly lifestyles.