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1.5-degree lifestyle case study: Lahti student who uses a wheelchair

– I know that I should shop less and find some other pastime. At the very least I could look after the things that I already have better so that they would last longer”, muses student Eveliina Hämeenoja. She would like to add more vegetarian meals to her diet and buy quality over quantity.
Eveliina Hämeenoja

Baseline in 2021

21-year-old Eveliina Hämeenoja lives in a 2010s block of flats in the Laune neighbourhood of Lahti. Hämeenoja uses a wheelchair. She studies in Helsinki and works in Lahti. In 2021, Hämeenoja’s carbon footprint is 4.5 tonnes. Approximately half of her carbon footprint is due to food and consumer goods.

It is great that there is so much more information available about sustainable options for everyday life these days. At school, for example, they always used to just tell us to walk more and use public transport. That is why it took me a long time to think of ways to reduce my carbon footprint. Well, at least I have not flown anywhere for four years. The coronavirus pandemic has made me realise that even Helsinki can be a brilliant, local holiday destination!

I have been in a wheelchair since I was a child, and I could not do what they told us at school, which was to walk more. Walking to the city centre is simply not an option for me. Thankfully I am happy to travel by train! I travel to school in Helsinki by train several times a week, but I also frequently use taxis, as it feels a lot safer than other forms of public transport. Improving accessibility would also make it easier for me to navigate the city. Dropped kerbs and better road maintenance in the winter are examples of ways to help wheelchair users.

Food is my life. I would describe myself as a foodie, a real food fan. I like to cook at home and I eat out with my friends a lot. I eat everything, but I would like to add more vegetarian meals to my diet due to health reasons and also purely out of curiosity! I try to eat high-quality foods and I am not prepared to scrimp on ingredients – I am happy to pay for quality. I cannot see myself giving up chicken, but I could eat locally sourced wild fish and game more often. I recently went through a phase of trying all possible types of tofu, MiFU and other meat substitutes for environmental reasons. MiFU is definitely staying on the menu!

Thankfully there is no need to compromise on flavour when you eat vegetarian food, as any food tastes great with the right seasoning. I recently ate a chickenless chicken pitta bread in a restaurant and I was amazed at how tasty it was. I can easily see myself eating only vegetarian food half of the time. Replacing all dairy products by plant-based alternatives would not be a problem either. I hope to see more variety in meat substitutes and tasty vegan foods in supermarkets and restaurants in the future.

I have always liked beautiful things and clothes and wanted to surround myself with them. I am not proud to admit it, but I really rather enjoy shopping. I actually find it therapeutic. Going clothes shopping with my friends is almost a hobby for me: it is a nice way to relax and take a break from my busy schedule. I know that I should shop less and find some other hobby or way to spend time with my friends. I am sure that I can come up with another way to relax and unwind. Giving it up feels difficult, however, as I am so used to shopping and always being able to buy new, beautiful things and clothes.

At the very least I could start to buy quality over quantity and look after the things that I already have better so that they would last longer. I definitely should cut down on my clothes and shoe shopping on the whole. It would certainly save me quite a bit of money, and I could use that money to invest in green businesses or projects once I graduate, instead of just on shopping. I should also know more about investing by then.

I would also like to start recycling clothes and other things. I have not yet found a suitable platform for this, as I am not on Facebook. There are also no good second-hand shops in Lahti where I could quickly and easily find nice, used clothes. I hope that second-hand supply improves in the future.

Emission cuts from 2021 to 2030

These are the most effective ways for Eveliina to reduce her carbon footprint:

  • Investing the money saved by living sustainably in green ventures -510 kg
  • Buying fewer clothes and shoes and prioritising quality over quantity in all purchases -410 kg
  • Eating vegetarian food more often -300 kg

Eveliina can reduce her carbon footprint by two tonnes by making changes to her lifestyle. This would make her carbon footprint 2.5 tonnes, which would be in line with the 1.5-degree climate target.