Boosting circular economy with user-oriented experiments in Jyväskylä

News 2021-03-19 at 17:09
© Japa Ry

The teachings of environmentally friendly lifestyle were shared in a social media series produced by young people and the services boosting sustainability in the city were collected on one website. The ideas of residents are processed into real circular economy action in Jyväskylä.

The Circwaste sub-project of the City of Jyväskylä on user-oriented experiments has moved on to the period of boosting circular economy and sustainable lifestyles. A public idea contest was organised in the autumn of 2019, and local residents and companies shared their entries, of which six were picked for further processing into a test phase.

Testing as an engagement and learning method

During this test period, some ideas that are tested in Jyväskylä include facilitating sorting in housing companies, testing the use of shared cars in student housing, finding ways to recover and reuse a spa’s waters and sharing practical tips to residents to encourage them to make their life more sustainable.

These tests are an agile way of trying out new methods of operation and how well they work in practice. They can be used to challenge “business as usual” modus operandi that have become routines and shift thinking towards circular economy and a more sustainable way of life. In the Jyväskylä sub-project, the needs of residents and companies are in the focus immediately as they were involved in producing the ideas for testing in a contest and, later, by making these ideas true. In this test period, the users are tested but also learners: by getting involved, we can learn new things and spread awareness of models that promote circular economy and a sustainable way of life.

Everyday climate action in Jyväskylä was an experiment that collected tips for a sustainable lifestyle

© Japa Ry

A series published on social media, the Everyday climate action in Jyväskylä was an experiment that offered lcoals tips on how to live more sustainably in Jyväskylä. The series was divided into transport, housing, food and other consumption in line with the most important sources of household carbon footprints. Each theme was covered for one week with services available in Jyväskylä in the spotlight. The series was realised on JAPA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts on weekdays from 12 October to 6 November.

The posts of the series were mostly made by JAPA’s young summer workers. “We had four young people between ages 15 and 17 working with us for two weeks in August before the start of school. It was their task to plan and complete the contents of the posts on social media. Contents were added to the posts during the experiment with topics relevant to the theme,” says a Anna Sarkkinen, who is Executive director at JAPA (Jyväskylä Association on sustainable development).

The experiment was started with a social media survey asking people if they felt they needed more sustainable development in their life. The goal was to find out what kind of things associated to a sustainable lifestyle people felt they needed help or ideas with. These questions by local people were addressed in weekly postings or in a separate section of people from JAPA answering. To conclude the series of social media postings, a second survey was carried out, with the goal of finding out if sustainable development has gained foothold in people’s lives.

Based on the initial survey, people needed tips mostly with sustainable eating: vegetarian recipes and information about local produce. The social media postings offered plenty of information about local and seasonal products, food waste and allotment gardens. Vegan and vegetarian recipes were also shared.

Based on the final survey, food was thought to be the most interesting theme during the experiment, with sustainable housing and consumption bubbling under. Most people who took the survey thought that they would apply one or more of the tips in their daily lives.

Website for residents’ help

In addition to the social media posting series, a website on the themes of sustainable living in Jyväskylä was created. The website contains tips on how to live sustainably in Jyväskylä and it provides a great guide for anyone interested in the topic. More information is posted on the website according to need.

“We wanted to collect all service providers and other parties involved in the sustainable lifestyle in Jyväskylä into one guidebook. We also wanted to share the great number of opportunities that are available for making everyday climate decisions in Jyväskylä. You can let us know if you come up with something that you cannot yet find on the website,” Sarkkinen says.

The website features different types of fixing and alteration services from bicycles and electronic equipment to shoemakers and sewing services. A handicraft help station is a very useful service offered by the Jyväskylä Adult Education Centre: people can mend their damaged pieces of clothing themselves for a reasonable fee. Sewing machines, sergers and other equipment are available as is professional staff who are happy to give you hands-on help, if needed.

The website also includes local second-hand shops, local food producers, food waste rescue services, nearby natural places of interest and a bicycle rental, biogas filling stations and so on.

Authors: Environmental specialist Outi Manninen, City of Jyväskylä and Coordinator Paula Wilkman, Jyväskylän kestävä kehitys JAPA ry

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