Sustainable Lifestyle Pilot in Päijät-Häme Region

Maarit Virtanen -

Päijät-Häme region is committed to ambitious goals on climate change mitigation and aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. This requires action at all levels from the citizens to regional and national decision making.

The Regional Council of Päijät Häme and the municipalities of Hartola, Hollola, Heinola, Lahti, Orimattila and Padasjoki have implemented a 1,5-degree lifestyle project with support from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. The project included a sustainable lifestyle pilot in families and the challenging of municipal councils to test their own footprints. The project aimed both at reducing the carbon footprint at families and gathering information on how municipalities can best support sustainable lifestyles.

The lifestyle pilot in families lasted for three months and included households from all participating municipalities. In addition, cooperation with the City of Lahti and Kiihdyttämö project raised the number of pilot families into almost 70. The participating households varied in size from single person to larger families living both in urban and rural areas. The pilot began with the calculation of each household’s carbon footprint and the mapping of activities to reduce it to a sustainable level. During the pilot period, families could take part in events on vegetarian food, renewable energy, textiles and waste recycling. The pilot families also had a joint meeting and a Facebook group to share ideas and discuss experiences with each other.

As a result of the pilot, families managed to reduce their carbon footprint with the average of 12 per cent. This is a good result, considering that many families had very low carbon footprints to start with. If the families keep up the good work, as they said they would, they will reach the sustainable target level by 2030. And if you calculated the emission reduction for a whole year, it would correspond to 54 tCO2 or driving a car for 270 000 km.

Pilot family experiences were positive, and they tested several new ideas related especially to food and overall consumption habits. There were also challenges related to, for example, the availability of public transportation and sustainable products. Furthermore, the households presented ideas for the municipalities and private sector on how to ease sustainable lifestyles. Municipal councillors involved did a digital carbon footprint test and some of them shared their results in social media. The project results will be further utilised in drafting a regional climate road map.

The 1,5-degree pilot raised a lot of interest in local and regional media and probably assisted in municipal decision making on climate goals. The Päijät-Häme region gained a Carbon Neutral Municipalities and Regions (Hinku) status at the end of 2019, which means a public commitment to joint climate goals. The 1,5-degree project continues by having its final event, a webinar, in May 2020.

Further information: Maarit Virtanen, Climate Specialist, maarit.virtanen(a)paijat-hame.fi