First day at Slush!

“Excuse me sir, that belongs in the organic waste bin!” – Me & the rest of the Sustainability team

That sentence sums up my day. I’m volunteering for the Slush Sustainability Team. So, I spent my day advising people how to recycle at the event! For those who are not sure what Slush is, it’s a big event for startups and investors that attracts visitors from all over the world. Innovators of tech and other start-ups come and show their latest inventions, in hope of raising funds. With over 20.000 visitors, recycling becomes an important tool to manage waste.

I had a great time at Slush. The other Sustainability Team members are so great, so nice to meet people who also think recycling is important! After my volunteering tasks, I heard interesting talks about things ranging from Virtual Reality to Sex Tech. The coolest thing was probably trying a VR headset for the first time. Oculus Rift blew my mind!

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Since I’ve explained this so many times today, I might as well do it once more! This is how we recycle at Slush:

Incinerable- that’s all things dry that can’t be easily recycled but can be burned to create energy (in other words: energy waste)

Organic – food waste and our awesome biodegreadable coffee cups

Cans and bottles- the only bin everyone very clearly understands

Paper – paper is that thin thing you write on. It is NOT plastic candy wrap. It is also NOT cardboard coffee cups. Repeat: paper is thin. Paper is thin. Keep going until you learn the difference between paper and cardboard.

Cardboard – a pizzabox is the perfect example. Any cardboard that is DRY and also isn’t biodegreadable (because then it goes into organic waste)

I’m really proud of Slush and the recycling possibilities in Finland. It’s not as good even in other industrialised countries! For example, New York seems to be in need of a recycling start up!

“Wow, you guys are so great at this! Do you know how we do in NYC? Just one bin bag!” – Slush visitor from New York

Don’t buy something unless it’s perfect

I found a bag so nice that one bag replaces about four bags I used to have before and will sell now. Quality over quantity. That’s, in my opinion, the answer to a lot of social and environmental problems that originate from the goods market. Buy one perfect thing in ten years, instead of something mediocre every year.

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It’s bought from an artisan in New York who has a small brand called Art + Jill. I found it online on etsy.com after searching stores and the web for a bag like this for over a year now. A year seems like a long time to look for something, but considering I’m going to use it for ten years it’s not so bad. Shipping to Finland would have cost a fortune but my cousin happened to be in New York so she brought it for me. I had the bag for a month already but I’m still happy every time I look at it! Hope this feeling lasts until I’m 31 😀

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Once you go backpack you never go back? Well you don’t have to decide that with this bag. It’s a backpack, a handbag, a tote-bag, a computer-bag at once. The same bag is appropriate for a hike in the woods and for the office.

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Before deciding to buy the bag I e-mailed with Jill and asked her about the bag and its quality. It’s much nicer to buy something that’s one of a kind, and to buy it directly from the person who makes it. She wrote me this super cute note and gave me a little purse!

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I didn’t have to wonder if it was made in a sweatshop (not like with the Ted Baker bag I decided not to buy after seeing the “made in China-tag” and not getting an answer to my e-mail about the company’s CSR). Jill and her partner Arthur makes the bags in New York themselves. The leather is dyed in New York and the leather is from Italy. I like knowing the whole production chain.

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If you haven’t seen Cowspiracy I suggest you do it. In the light of that documentary buying leather might seem questionable. And yes, the whole animal industry is linked to many problems. However, many of the leather substitutes are really low quality and I don’t think that’s sustainable either. I have chosen to use leather but I try to buy only really good quality leather products and use them for a long time. The leather shoes you see me wearing in the picture are six years old (from 2009) and they have been repaired twice.

Everyone might not agree with me but I think it’s okay to buy a few quality leather products if you take well care of them. There is also different kinds of leather. Leather processing is also usually really bad but for example vegetable tanned leather is much more eco-friendly. Check out brands like moimoi, Väska and Lovia.  Buying vintage leather products is a really good option too, because that does not put any more demand on the cattle industry. After all, the less leather we need the better.

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A bag from vegetable-tanned leather. Can be found here.

It’s easy to forget when you live in the city

DSC_2521[1]If I have to choose one favorite thing about Finland I would say our forests. Not because they provided the paper industry with raw materials and gave Finland economic growth. No, just because they are wonderful. I just spent my weekend in the forest, and I loved it.

It’s easy to forget how relaxing the forest is when you live in the middle of a city. The reason I have been wandering in the forest is that I participated in a biology course organised by the University of Helsinki. I have now gained a new skill: I can collect food for myself without that much of a risk of being poisoned! The course was namely about mushrooms/fungi. I also had the chance to pick some berries.

Finnish broadcasting company Yle just wrote that Finns should eat more mushrooms. They are really healthy, full of protein and it can’t get much environmental friendlier than to eat food that nature has produced. It took an organised course to drag me out in the forest. I really should start doing that on my own. So every city-inhabitant, there are plentyof buses that in less than an hour from the centre of Helsinki can bring you to a forest to pick your own mushrooms!

Did you know that several mushrooms need dead trees to grow? It's a myth that humans need to "take care of" the forest by removing trees, the mushrooms need the dead ones.

Did you know that several mushrooms need dead trees to grow? It’s a common misconception that humans need to “take care of” the forest by removing trees.

There are other benefits of the forest than providing us food. The world would probably be a better place if people visited the forest more often. University of California just discovered that the forest make people kinder and less selfish! In addition to this, there are several studies showing that being in the nature (i.e. where there are not many humans or human buildings) is good for our mental health.

So I am actually quite relaxed now, despite having a deadline for a major essay in a few hours 😀

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An easy way to save my morning

I often think that people, me included, should start paying more notice to others. We walk the streets busy and tired. We stare down on our smartphones and don’t even see each other.

I almost missed the tram this morning. I was running like crazy to catch it. It’s not the first time I almost miss the tram but usually people just stare at me with dull looks and the tram leaves without me. This time a woman pushed the button to keep the doors open for the few more seconds it took for me to reach the tram. I was on time this morning thanks to her!

My point is, it doesn’t have to be that hard to save someones day or morning. It can be helping someone carry a heavy bag or giving money to someone about to buy a train ticket, who forgot their wallet at home. It’s a cliché, but the little things matter. Just a little reminder both to myself and everyone out there 🙂