Responsible consumption, why and how?

Why should responsible consumption be enhanced, how am I contributing and how did I participate citizens to think about their own actions?

Picture by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Something all the Nordic countries have in common are the major challenges that remain for enhancing sustainable consumption and production, SDG 12 and climate action, SDG 13. This was reported in the summer, when the UN followed up the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Sachs et al., 2020).

Figure: Nordic Co-operation on Twitter 25.9.2020. Reference: Sachs et al., 2020.

Finland implements the global Agenda 2030 through the national strategy for sustainable development, the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development. Anyone can make their own concrete active commitments to contribute to the implementation of the objectives. The eight objectives of the Commitment include all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030. SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production, is mainly enhanced through the seventh objective, lifestyles respectful of the carrying capacity of nature (Prime Minister’s Office, 2020).

In September, I attended a webinar, where professor Lassi Linnanen talked about how cash flows could be channeled from increasing environmental pressures to combating climate change. His team has looked into how much Finnish households could save. The main saving potentials are in transport, food and beverages. Their team has also digged into which actions have the best reduction potential for C02-emission and in euros for the consumer (Claudelin et al., 2018 and 2020). The carbon footprint of the average Finn is 10,300 kg per person per year (Sitra 2018). The team found that changing from district heating to ground heating in a detached house could save you up to 3500 kg C02 and 500 euros per year. By changing from a petrol car to a biogas car you can save up to 3000 kg C02 and 100 euros per year. The action of moving to a 20 m2 smaller detached house, you can save up to 2000 euros and a 20 m2 smaller blockhouse apartment can save you up to 3000 euros and 600 kg C02, per year.

A great example of a city that has succeeded in the climate combat was reported by BBC news in April 2019, the city of Ii. The city is located in northern Finland and aims at being the world’s first zero-waste community. The city stopped using fossil fuels and invested heavily in geothermal, solar and wind energy projects. These actions now generate a profit of half a million euros a year. The citizens are confident that the key to effective climate action is environmental education. The children are straining the climate work as they take its message to their homes.

I try to consume responsibly, something I have been raised to. My family lives in a small house of 100 m2. For heating and electricity we consume about 15,000 KwH electricity per year, which is 5,000 KwH per family member that still lives here. I calculated that that corresponds to 705 kg C02. This is about a third of the carbon footprint of the average Finn´s housing, which is 2,100 kg per person per year. I live and work in Turku, for the third year in a row, where I try to ride my bike to work and meetings. Concerning food, I try to consume as local groceries as I can. Close to our home is a “Reko”, local food group, which brings producers and consumers together. Every second Wednesday the producers come at a specific time, where I shop vegetables, berries, flowers, honey, eggs and meat. The major savings I could do is travelling less by plane on holidays. We have travelled a lot with our children, because we wanted them to experience new places, cultures and things in safe company. Last year we flew twice and this year once, due to the Corona pandemic, but flying less is something I would like to strive for. We have also travelled yearly to northern Norway and Sweden, for fishing and hiking. These places we can reach by train and car and are regions I plan to visit more in the future.

On Saturday I was invited to Haukipudas, to Haukipudas Days, to talk about sustainable development and responsible consumption. Haukipudas is a town located in the province of Oulu, with a population of 19.000. The Haukipudas Days were celebrated for the 40th time, from November 5th to 8th, 2020.

I applied three participating tasks during the lecture. The first was that I asked the participants what they think about when they hear “sustainable development”, the results presented as a word cloud. The second was that I had made a questionnaire of all goals that are mentioned for the seventh objective for the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development, lifestyles respectful of the carrying capacity of nature, that the participants answered. I asked how they are enhancing the goals at their work and at their leisure time. The ones participating live discussed the questions with each other. The third task was that I asked the participants how they will promote responsible consumption. Also these were presented as a word cloud. I applied Mentimeter for the word clouds and Google Forms for the questionnaire.

How the participants, of the lecture about sustainable development and sustainable consumtion, at Haukipudas Days 7.11.2020, will enhance sustainable consumtion.
Most will ride their bike more.

My lecture was part of the Folkverkstan project, which aims to raise awareness of sustainable consumption and to create meeting places where people can share information and learn about small-scale repair and refurbishment work. The project is presented here, in Finnish:

Tove Holm, 9.11.2020


BBS News, 2019. Finland’s new generation of climate heroes. 27 April 2019

Claudelin, A.; Järvelä, S.; Uusitalo, V.; Leino, M.; Linnanen, L., 2018. The Economic Potential to Support Sustainability through Household Consumption Choices. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3961.

Claudelin, A., Uusitalo, V., Hintukainen, I., Kuokkanen, A., Tertsunen, P., Leino, M., Linnanen, L., 2020. Increasing positive climate impact by combining anti‐consumption and consumption changes with impact investing. Sustainable Development.

Prime Minister’s Office, 2020. Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development.

Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G., Woelm, F. 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals and COVID-19. Sustainable Development Report 2020. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sitra, 2018. Keskivertosuomalaisen hiilijalanjälki. SITRA, 15.2.2018.

Published by toveholmconsulting

Founder of Tove Holm Consulting. I am a transdisciplinar facilitator for sustainable development. Passions: change leadership, education, Agenda2030, networking & the Baltic Sea. I am a public speaker & PhD.

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