Resource saving campaign based on an online tool to calculate the amount of natural resources needed yearly to support citizen’s lifestyle.
This practice is both a tool and a campaign built around reducing the material footprint of Finnish people. The practice addresses the problem of over-exploitation of natural resources. The campaign’s purpose is to raise the citizens’ awareness of their material footprint and highlight the need to cut a Finn’s material footprint to 8 tons/year. The Finnish name of the practice, Tonni Lähti, can be translated to ‘one ton less’.
The test calculates citizen’s material footprint. The test gathers information of their lifestyle, e.g. housing, eating, transport and leisure. One can compare her/his results with a sustainable material consumption. Based on received practical tips, one can make a commitment to cut the footprint. The campaign’s webpage presents different actions to reduce the material footprint by 1 ton/year.
Since its launching, the test has been taken approximately 1400 times by citizens of Lahti region. Additional 450 tests were made during the Nordic World Ski Championship 2017 in Lahti.
The joint practice was initiated in the region of Päijät-Häme, Finland, by several actors who wanted to give the citizens a chance to address their material consumption: City of Lahti, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Lappeenranta University of Technology, D-mat Consulting Company, Ladec - Lahti Region Development Company and Päijät-Häme Waste Management. The material footprint test is based on a similar calculator developed by the Wuppertal Institute, Germany.
Ten working days were required to modify and translate the calculator to Finnish conditions. The calculator was built by Lahti University of Applied Sciences students, decreasing the need of finances. A technical implementation of such a calculator would take 3 months from a professional team.
Evidence of success
Even though the test hasn’t reached wider audience by the number of tests taken, the action can be considered to have a positive influence on citizens. During the launch, the campaign raised a lot of interest in the region and in the local media. Moreover, it can be assumed that the message of a sustainable level of material consumption has reached many more people. The information shared may later induce changes in people’s behaviour.
The practice is a joint effort of many organisations, and a single responsible organisation or individual has not been assigned for the managing the practice. Accordingly, there has been challenges to allocate resources for further development and promotion of the practice.
Potential for learning or transfer
The actors behind the practice see a great potential for the material footprint calculator to be used elsewhere. The test helps citizens understand the environmental impacts of their lifestyle and daily choices in a tangible way and this can possibly trigger changes in their behaviour to a more sustainable direction.
There are some preconditions for the success of the practice. The test should be adjusted to the local conditions. Adequate expertise is needed to plan the content of the test. Also, when pursuing a wide publicity and addressing many users, it is crucial to have an influential actor with strong networks behind the campaign. At the same time, it is important to pay attention to the usability of the test, which has to be simple enough for different users.
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