Finland’s capital city of Helsinki launched a sustainability app this summer that lets residents, tourists and business owners make smarter daily choices that contribute to the metropolis’ goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035. Think Sustainably launched in June 2019 and helps users decide on activities, transportation options and shops by toggling specific sustainability filters to find choices that best suit their preferences and meet environmental metrics.
“Individual choices matter,” said Kaisa-Reeta Koskinen, the director of the Carbon Neutral Helsinki Initiative. “If one person in each of the 2.6 million households existing in Finland would reduce their carbon footprint by 20 percent, we would reach 38 percent of the goals set for Finland in the Paris climate agreement for reducing emissions.”
Helsinki is already recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities. After New York City led the charge, Helsinki was the second urban metropolis to report directly to the United Nations about its progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a citywide survey from 2018, more than two-thirds of all Helsinki residents reported concern about climate change and the future of their city. In response, city officials teamed up with community groups and sustainability experts to develop an app that helps people make more eco-friendly decisions at the individual level.
The Think Sustainably app touches on every major aspect of sustainable living, including transportation, food options, waste practices, biodiversity, green jobs, energy and environmental justice. There is also a checklist of ways that business owners can become more sustainable, and the city certifies shops only if they complete a majority of the recommended measures.
The sustainable living app relies on self-reporting from businesses instead of a laborious auditing system, and the businesses are held accountable by customers’ reviews.
“Helsinki is the perfect test-bed for solutions that can later be scaled-up for the world’s megacities,” said Laura Aalto, CEO at Helsinki Marketing. “Operating like a city-scale laboratory, Helsinki is eager to experiment with policies and initiatives that would not be possible elsewhere … we hope that others can also learn from our experiments.”
Images via Think Sustainably