Spark’s first ever climate coaching gathered 22 climate heroes from the Helsinki area to share inspiration and support each other in reaching personal climate targets. Some of them had already been making sustainable choices actively for a long period of time, whereas some had just gotten started. What connected them all was a wish to get to know like-minded people to discuss these things with, and a passion for protecting the environment.
For Tia von Flittner, the will to actively contribute to a better world took off ahead of the Finnish parliament elections this spring. She started thinking more about environmental issues, and wanted to figure out who to vote for. Another turning point was when she moved in with her current flatmate. The person who had lived there before Tia had been keen on recycling, and at first she and her flatmate were not so eager to continue with this habit. After a discussion about it, Tia suggested they would at least give it go – and so they did. Now they have recycled all their trash for over half a year, and Tia has also started implementing other sustainable habits, like using oat drink in her coffee.
– Changing my habits for the benefit of the environment feels amazing. It gives me the feeling of doing something good for the society which in turn makes me feel good.
Aija Laurila’s goal during the coaching was to reduce food waste. Her first step was to order a vegetarian food bag with all the ingredients needed to prep three meals. Since we had a collaboration with Anton&Anton during the coaching period to make trying out new climate-friendly recipes easy, Aija and all the other participants got a discount on Anton&Anton’s vegetarian food bag.
– Ordering the vegetarian food bag was a success, since there’s no room for waste thanks to well measured ingredients, Aija says. It also worked as a source of inspiration, as she has now adopted the idea for her own grocery shopping. By planning her grocery list according to predetermined recipes, she avoids buying excess food, and saves trips to the supermarket as an added bonus!
Going beyond personal emission reductions
Small tricks like well-prepared grocery lists can clearly help us reach our own climate targets. But the impact of our actions goes beyond personal emission reductions as they also influence others. Marika Parviainen, mother of three, has seen this happen firsthand.
– Our family has always tried to live as sustainably as possible and to consider the environment. With three teenagers, however, we have had to made compromises, and there has been a lot of discussions about responsible lifestyles, especially with my teenage son, Marika says. Those discussions have obviously had an impact: Marika herself has been a pescetarian for almost 30 years, and now her daughters are following her lead. One has stopped eating red meat, and the other has adopted a completely vegetarian diet. The two men in the family still like to eat meat, but are now eating less red meat and only from local producers.
How to encourage others to take climate action was a popular topic throughout the climate coaching. Leading by example seems to be an efficient solution. For many years, Kalle Tiensuu has celebrated midsummer with the same group of friends. As often happens when a larger group gets together to celebrate, there is too much food. So a few years back Kalle decided to take charge of the grocery shopping and cooking. Thanks to this, he was able to reduce food waste and increase the amount of plant-based food at the dinner table. Nowadays, Kalle can delegate the grocery shopping duties to anyone of his friends as they have all adopted his example.
Now that the coaching period is over, what do we take with us?
First of all, it is easier to take things one step at a time than trying to make huge changes all at once. We can get so much energy from celebrating the small victories, and that motivates us to continue our journey. We don’t have to be perfect all the time.
Secondly, every action matters. Our climate heroes are living proof that what we do inspires others to take action. At the same time, considering the climate in our everyday decisions makes them more meaningful and gives us more joy.
Finally, living more sustainably is both easier and more fun when you can share your experiences with others. We can get tips and inspiration, support others, and more importantly, we realize we are not alone on this mission. Together, even small actions make a big impact.