Activist Granny Sisko believes frugality is the best sustainable practice

We interviewed 76 year old Sisko Pörsti from Helsinki who is part of activist grannies movement. Sisko also runs a second hand bookshop, where books are given a new life. Frugal mindset in everyday life comes from Sisko's own grandmother and it leads to environmentally friendly choices.


Photo: Sisko Pörsti

What is the Aktivistimummot "Activist Grannies" movement?


The movement was born of grandmothers’ concerns about climate change. As you have grandchildren, you can't help but wonder what we will leave behind in the world and what the living conditions of our grandchildren will be like. The movement was set up by a dozen grandmothers, and today more than 6,000 grandmothers have joined our Facebook page. My relative who started the movement invited me to the activities. The idea is to change people’s attitudes more positive towards climate projects with a soft, “grandma-like” attitude. Corona has influenced our activities so that physical gatherings have often not been possible, but ideas and information are exchanged online. Each year, we hand out the Pelargonia Recognition, highlighting pioneers who work to curb climate change and work for biodiversity. The first Pelargonia was given to the pension company Varma, and in 2021 it was given to the city of Kouvola. Of course, there are also grandfathers and future grandmothers involved in the movement.


As you have grandchildren, you can't help but wonder what we will leave behind in the world and what the living conditions of our grandchildren will be like.

How is circular economy visible in your life?


Certainly in my consumption habits and in being very frugal. I don’t get things that I don't need and I use everything as long as possible. For example, I don’t buy clothes to just hang in the closet, everything has to have a purpose, and I’m happy to look for items at flea markets. I belong to the generation whose childhood was dictated by frugality. After the war there was simply no choice but to make the most of what we had. I see my own grandmother as a good example of this frugal mindset. For example, she baked rye bread at home and turned dry bread scraps into soup, meaning that she cooked them in water with lingonberries and sugar for dessert. She would even scrape the leftover porridge for later use. There is a lot of talk about food waste these days, and I myself try to take advantage of the red-labeled, near to expiry products in the grocery store. I repair clothes and in the past I made rag rugs, which is a good example of traditional Finnish textile reuse. Of course I sort all the rubbish. After plastic collection started, I noticed how much of our home’s waste is plastic. I also have an antique book shop as a hobby through which I recycle books. Publication Apis functions as a shop amongst others in the website www.antikvaari.fi.



How did you start running a second hand bookshop?


I have pursued a career in the book industry in various roles, both as a writer, editor and as a publisher. I am horrified at how short the age of the book is today. Publishers are already maculating books after a couple of years if they don’t move fast enough. It’s an unfortunate waste of natural resources and it’s rewarding if you can pass the book forward for new people to read. I’ve always loved antique book shops, and when my daughter was a stay-at-home mom, we started a business together, and now that I’ve retired, I’ve taken care of it. Acquaintances usually contact me if they are getting rid of books, and I look for them at flea markets as well. Little by little, you learn to recognize what kind of books might be in demand. Classic and rarer books tend to move well. I really enjoy running the book shop and will continue to do so, for as long as it brings me joy.