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Welcome to the final seminar of the Circular Citizens project!


When: Thu 9.11.2023 at 14:00-16:45

                                 Registration and doors open at 13:40
Where: University of Helsinki Incubator Space (Vuorikatu 3, Helsinki)

  • Five presentations on different aspects of circular consumption (see below)

  • Comments by experienced scholars from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany

- Eva Heiskanen, professor, Centre for Consumer Society Research, University of Helsinki

- Taru Peltola, associate professor, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, University of Eastern Finland 

- Harald Throne-Holst, senior researcher at Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University

Elina Katariina Larsson, President of European Association for Home Economics, visiting research fellow at Stockholm University

- Mubarik Rabiu, doctoral researcher, Brandenburg University of Technology, Germany


  • Interactive discussion panel with scholars, politicians and circular practitioners:

- Eva Heiskanen, professor, Centre for Consumer Society Research, University of Helsinki

- Timo Huhtamäki, CEO of Emmy Clothing Company

- Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish Member of the European Parliament

Tuovi Kurttio, Senior Adviser, Strategy and Development at Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Center (Kierrätyskeskus)

- “Roskapäivä Eino” - eco-influencer

  • ​Informal networking (16:15 - 16:45)

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Climbing up the Circular Practices Pyramid - From Recycling Waste to Reducing It

Presentation by Noora Viholainen (University of Helsinki)

The circular practices of waste sorting and buying preowned are already a part of the daily lives of many Finnish citizens, while sufficiency related practices (e.g., refusing and reducing consumption) that have the higher priority on the waste management pyramid are often perceived as outlier activities. By interviewing 20 pioneering circular citizens, such as Zero Wasters, in Finland, we gained insight into the multitude of circular practices they have taken up. The insights from their daily lives illustrate how practices may interlink and sensitise citizens to sufficiency-oriented consumption. Diligent sorting and recycling may lead to frustration with the waste amounts, and motivate more mindful consumption, following the refuse and reduce principles. This presentation challenges the logic of reducing consumption for the sake of sustainability, and introduces the multitude of entry points to more circular lifestyles, without framing them as radical changes, but as a response to one’s own needs. 

Circularity and the willingness to update repair skills among Finnish consumers

Presentation by Piia Lundberg (U
niversity of Helsinki)


Various circular skills enable consumers to participate in the circular economy and serve as tools for a more sustainable everyday life. One means available to everyone to reduce consumption is to repair broken goods and thus reduce the need to produce new ones. However, the repair services sector has been experiencing a downward trend in many European countries. At the same time, the repair at home is often invisible, making it difficult to estimate the skills of the general population to prolong the life of broken goods. In the Circular Citizens project, we delved into this topic from the perspective of Finnish consumers by collecting a nationally representative survey (n=1000) in the spring 2022. First, we look at the circular skills at the general level and then more deeply at skills related to repair as an example. Although the findings indicate that Finns feel their repair skills are still quite poor, they showed willingness to further develop their own repair skills. This presentation examines the results for different product categories to identify the ones that have the highest potential for improving self-repair practices, and the ones that should be outsourced to professional service providers. 

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The reuse of goods: the challenges and potential of second-hand

Presentation by Piia Lundberg (U
niversity of Helsinki)

Although it may seem like purchasing second-hand is a widespread and societally accepted circular practice, it may vary a lot for different categories of goods. Therefore, gaining insight on consumers’ purchasing behaviour with regards to second-hand goods is highly informative for designing focused communication strategies that allow to target consumer doubts and misperceptions. Based on the nationally-representative survey (n=1000), clothes and home textiles are among the goods most often purchased second hand/recycled. At the same time, close to 50% of the respondents have reservations towards purchasing mobile phones, computers or entertainment electronics (including supplies), small or big household appliances as second-hand. This presentation highlights the underlying reasons for doubting second-hand purchases and discusses some of the related barriers for normalizing second-hand consumption patterns in the context of Finland.

Experimental circular economy education in high schools

Presentation by Heli Harjama (U
niversity of Helsinki)

In practice, the current general education aims to provide good preconditions for further studies or working life, whereas circular economy transformation as a response to the sustainability problems requires abilities to make changes in all spheres of collective living. The Circular Citizens project organises circular economy workshops for upper secondary students that entail repurpose experiment and utopia working, to experiment with education that aims to form required abilities to carry out circular economy transformation. Experiences so far indicate that 1. the youth and their lives are treated in school in such a narrow way that it prohibits the formation of the abilities needed, and that 2. compared to the national curricula, the youth possess relevant information that is unused in education.




Civic agency in developing circular economy: potentialities and risks

Presentation by Oleksandra Nenko
(University of Turku)

Becoming of the circular lifestyles in the city requires not only infrastructural conditions, but also interaction between different agencies - civic, institutional and business ones - whose activities reinforce and support each other. Institutional agency provides policies and urban infrastructure for the CE, business agency invests into it and makes it profitable, civic agency contributes into formation of community circular values and practices. This presentation will explore the cases where due to insufficient action on the side of institutions and businesses in the circular transition process, the civic agency spilled over into their domains to provide the products and services necessary for implementing more circular consumption. Although the spill over can lead to involvement and growth of the circular communities and social trust in CE, it is often coupled with risks of economic precarity of the initiatives (instability of ecological micro-entrepreneurship and grant-dependent activity of the NGOs), their temporary non-strategic character. The findings are based on two different geographical contexts: cities across Finland and the city of St.Petersburg, Russia*. 

*This data was collected during the year 2021, before the unlawful invasion of Ukraine. Communication of these scientific results complies with the official policy of Kone Foundation. 

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