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.
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 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.
We believe that every service provider is ready for improvement – and this is why we wish to offer tools and a platform for each and every company to function even more sustainably. The criteria can be used as a set of tools to develop operations. They highlight ecological sustainability, and specifically address climate change, as well as social sustainability, yet also consider questions related to biodiversity.
By fulfilling the minimum requirements in their respective service category, an operator is invited to the Think Sustainably service and will be marked on the MyHelsinki.fi website with a green tab. Some criteria are more easily met than others, while others need more persistent, long-term efforts (for example carbon footprint calculations and compensations). The wider context and background for the criteria can be found throughout the Think Sustainably website.
As an example, passing the criteria listed for attractions requires meeting nine criteria out of 25, and in the accommodation category the requirement is 15 criteria out of 25. The purpose is to encourage different operators to find an impressive array of solutions that encourage customers and visitors to engage in more sustainable lifestyles.
The starting point for the criteria was to make them accessible to very different operators ranging from small cafés to large hotels as everyone needs to have the same opportunity to be part of a larger story of change.
We trust the service provider's own announcement of meeting the criteria. The operator is expected to also regularly brief their own employees on the company's values and visions of sustainability. If some glitches are experienced related to fulfilling the criteria, we will be in contact with them so they are able to further develop their functions on that specific topic.
Everyone is invited to take part in developing the Think Sustainably service by giving feedback – there is also a channel to send compliments to the service providers on well-maneuvered solutions. We believe that encouragement is of the utmost importance right now.
The service will be further developed in terms of participants, criteria and technical features. This development work is done together with think tank Demos Helsinki and local interest groups and sustainability experts.
The most central viewpoint in terms of restaurants is what is on the plate. The more vegetarian food we eat, the better this is for the climate. Another major topic is food waste.
An important point to consider in terms of attractions is the energy consumption of the building, along with how visitors arrive. The steps toward sustainability can be different for very different types of attractions.
Along with recycling, energy saving and offering food with a vegetarian focus, other ways of reducing the carbon footprint of events include arriving by public transport, or bicycle for instance.
In this arena, the carbon footprint is reduced by moving beyond fast fashion and throw-away culture. In addition, producers need to be ensured fair compensation and fair working conditions.
The field of accommodation services has been paying attention to energy and water consumption for years. Next steps include expanding the availability of vegan food as well as promoting public transportation.
Regarding events, the carbon footprint is greatly affected by the organising venue. Many event venues are large buildings and their energy consumption is considerable.