Published October 12, 2019

Finnish people consider sustainable lifestyle choices to be important – young people are climate action pioneers

According to a survey commissioned by Sitra, the majority of Finnish people consider it important to live sustainably and believe that consumption choices have an impact on mitigating climate change. Young people are more active in encouraging others to make environmentally friendly choices.
Writer
 
Sanna Autere

According to Sitra’s recent Resource-wise citizen 2019 survey, a total of 69% of Finns believe that consumption-related choices have an impact on mitigating climate change.

“It is important that Finnish people are aware of the significance of consumption choices, as nearly 70% of all greenhouse emissions result from household consumption,” explains Markus Terho, Director of Sitra’s Sustainable everyday life project.

Practising a sustainable way of life is important to 78% of Finnish people. Over 2,000 Finns aged between 18 and 79 responded to the survey, which explored the attitudes and actions of Finns with regard to sustainable consumption and everyday choices. The data was gathered in May 2019 by Kantar TNS. A similar survey was previously carried out in April 2017.

“In the space of two years, our everyday life has shifted one step forward towards sustainability in choices relating to living, transport, food and other areas of consumption. It’s great that Finns value sustainable lifestyle choices. Our consumption behaviour is changing, although at a slow pace,” Terho explains.

Over half of Finns (53%) have consciously reduced their consumption for environmental reasons and try to make responsible consumption choices. This figure has slightly increased since 2017. Around one in three people use environmentally friendly products and services even if they cost more.

Sustainable lifestyle choices are also strongly connected with how meaningful respondents feel their life is and how satisfied they are with their life.

“The connection between life satisfaction and responsible choices seems to run in both directions: people who are satisfied with their life make sustainable choices, and sustainable choices increase people’s satisfaction and the sense that their life is meaningful,” Terho adds.

Young people at the forefront of sustainable living

Young people stand out in their encouragement of others to make sustainable choices. While 37% of respondents overall say that they are active in encouraging those around them to make environmentally friendly choices, the figure for those aged under 30 is 44%. Around one in four Finns overall are active in promoting sustainable solutions at their workplace or study environment, but the figure for under 30s is 34%.

Young people are also pioneers in the use of new transport and travel services that are based on the sharing economy. For example, 37% of under 30s use carpooling, and this figure has risen by nine percentage points in the last two years. Young people are also more active users of shared-use cars and home accommodation services such as Airbnb.

The mitigation of climate change motivates young people in particular to change their everyday choices. While 35% of respondents overall say that they have changed some of their transport or eating habits or housing solutions in order to help mitigate climate change, the figure for under 30s is nearly 50%.

There is demand for new, ecologically more sustainable products and services. Slightly less than half of Finns feel that there is a sufficient variety of reasonably priced options available for enabling an environmentally friendly lifestyle for all.

“It is not enough for a product or service to simply be environmentally friendly, it also needs to be easy to use and attractive, so that people will actually change their choices and behaviour”, Terho explains.

People travelling more sustainably

For an ever-increasing number of Finnish people, it is important to consider the environmental effects also when planning one’s free time. A total of 59% of respondents reported that they spend their holidays in Finland whenever possible. An increasing number also avoid flying when travelling in their free time and travel by train during holidays.

“The popularity of travelling by land is growing. According to the railway company VR, sale of interrail passes increased at the start of the year by 20%,” Terho points out.

Just under half of Finns have flown at some point during the past year. Around one in five say that they have offset the carbon emissions for their flights.

For 63% of respondents, owning a car is considered unavoidable for everyday life to run smoothly. However, 44% report that they seek to minimise the environmental impacts of moving around, and almost as large a number say that they minimise the use of their car. A slightly smaller proportion, 42%, intend to buy a lower-emission car when they purchase a new one.

RESOURCE-WISE CITIZEN 2019 AND 2017

This is how the survey was carried out

  • The Resource-wise Citizen survey explored the attitudes and actions of Finnish people with regard to sustainable consumption and everyday choices and how these have changed since the previous survey was carried out two years ago. The survey was carried out in May 2019 through the Kantar TNS Gallup Forum internet panel.
  • The survey was taken by 2007 people. The data represents people in Finland aged between 18 and 79. The margin of error is 2.2 percentage points at the most in either direction.
  • A similar survey was carried out in April 2017.

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