Celebrating Environmental Week in the Päijät-Häme Region, Finland
The 24th Regional Environmental Week (Ympäristöviikko) was organized on 14-20 September 2020, simultaneously in various municipalities and cities of the Päijät-Häme region, Finland: Hartola, Heinola, Hollola, Lahti and Sysmä. The key theme of this year was Clothing – Clothing is a choice, promoting sustainable fashion and textiles.
Lahti Environmental Village
The main event of the week, the Environmental Village (Ympäristökylä), was organised on Saturday 19.9.2020 at the Lahti marketplace, already for the ninth time. The program included speeches and presentations of the local environmental actors from different fields and offered activities for families visiting the event. One of the presenters was CECI – Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation, an Interreg Europe funded project, which is led by LAB University of Applied Sciences. As CECI aims to strengthen the role of every citizen in the circular economy, the project actively participated in the event. CECI together with the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme organised a webinar on Full circle – Sustainable Textiles earlier this year from the same focus area with the event.
Picture 1. Among other presenters, Marjut Villanen, the CECI project Manager and Carita Tanskanen, the ASKEL project Manager, were invited on the stage to introduce their projects, raise public awareness and motivate citizens to participate in circular and sharing economy. Source: Katerina Medkova 2020.
Environmental Awards 2020
During the event, Lahti environmental honorary award was given to Riikka-Liisa Aalto, the founder of the Clean Päijät-Häme Environmental Conservation Community (Puhdas Päijät-Häme luonnonsuojeluyhteisö) for her volunteer community garbage collection work. The Clean Päijät-Häme Community has been identified also as one of the CECI Good Practices. Furthermore, this practice has been published on the Policy Learning Platform, a freely available database of Good Practices from all over Europe.
Picture 2. The winner of the Lahti Environmental Award 2020 – Ekku Mäkinen from Eko-Ompelimo (the second from right) and Riikka-Liisa Aalto (in the middle), the founder of the Clean Päijät-Häme community, who received the honorary award. The awards were hand over by Elina Ojala (the second on the left), the Lahti Environmental Director and Milla Bruneau (the first on the left), the Executive Director Lahti – European Green Capital 2021. Source: Katerina Medkova 2020.
Discussions with Citizens
The main stage of the Lahti Environmental Village was surrounded by various booths providing visitors with a wide range of information, concrete examples and practical food for thoughts. One of the booths was shared by the CECI project, together with Telaketju and Askel projects. Telaketju 2 BF – Building business from circular economy of textiles project, that develops the collection, sorting out and refining processes of end-of-life textiles. The Askel – Co-developing services for sustainable living project develops circular and sharing economy services in neighbourhoods of Anttilanmäki and Jalkaranta in Lahti. As Askel project idea was born in the CECI project, naturally, a close cooperation and knowledge exchange has been developed.
Picture 3. The joint boot of the CECI, Telaketju and Askel projects at the Environmental Village event 2020. Source: Katerina Medkova 2020.
During the event, citizens stopped by in the joint booth to discuss the reuse and recycling of textiles in Lahti. Currently, clothes and home textiles, which are still in a good condition can be collected in dedicated charity containers, be given to recycling centres, e.g. PATINA, or sold in flea markets. If the garment or home textile is not suitable for reuse anymore, it is put into energy waste that is utilised as a fuel for producing heat and electricity in Lahti.
As separate collection for textile waste is becoming mandatory in the EU in 2025, a separate collection of textile waste for material recycling needs to be developed. Telaketju is working on this and one of the stakeholders has published instructions for national collection of end-of-life textiles in Finland.