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 City of Helsinki's strategy for 2017-2021 includes the goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2035. An open tool has been devised to track progress towards this goal. The tool gives information about the subcategories of traffic, construction, the use of buildings, consumption, procurement, sharing and circular economy initiatives, and the set of so-called “smart & clean” actions.
On its way to achieving this ultimate goal, the city strategy has set an interim objective of cutting greenhouse emissions by 60 percent by the year 2030. Helsinki intends to reduce emissions by, for example, maintaining the functionality of public transportation and streamlining the mobility of pedestrians and cyclists in the city.
Furthermore, the new construction efforts include ecological thinking as a key component already in the design phase. The new Tripla compounds in the Pasila district will include 300 charging stations for electric cars, and a third of the roof area will become parking areas with green roofs. The reduction of emissions from motor vehicles is being pursued through, for instance, developing light traffic routes and rail connections.
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.