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Ami Värtö: Sustainable lifestyle can be normalised with examples

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Ami Värtö is one of the most followed sustainability influencers in Finland. Ami lives in Helsinki with her family and shares ideas and thoughts on sustainable lifestyle and encourages people to act for climate on Instagram and in her blog pallon kokoinen elämä.

How did you become interested in a sustainable way of life?

The release of the 2018 IPCC Climate Report was a turning point that served as a clear wake-up call for me on climate and environmental issues. I remember watching the news and was told how we should hurry with the climate action and what the consequences could be if nothing is done. It somehow really hit me and the next day I set up the Instagram account. The idea was to implement a little activism in daily life and try to influence my close circles. Of course, I had no idea at the time that the account would become so popular.

How did you start to transform your life to a more sustainable direction?

Reusable kitchen paper made from old t-shirts

I started changing my habits right after the IPCC report in 2018. First I did a couple of carbon footprint calculators and started to think what kind of things I could change. First things I did was to quit air travel. I have been changing my diet gradually to more plant based. I started to consider consumption in a new way, only buying what I truly need and preferring second hand options. I have repaired some things myself but I have also used repairing services. We have a really nice community with my neighbours and we borrow things from each other. With time, I have learned more about which are significant choices regarding sustainability. Before I found myself wondering about quite small things, and now I try to focus on the big picture.

What kind of skills are needed in everyday circularity?

Finding everything second hand takes a bit more time. It can be a bit of a hunt trying to find some seasonal equipment for kids for example. I think you need to know also how to use social media, so you can look for things you need. Also knowing where to look for certain things is a skill in a way. I would like to learn more craft skills so I could repair textiles and repurpose materials.

I believe more examples of sustainable life are needed and the mainstream media could show sustainable way of life as the "normal", so that examples wouldn’t only be visible in social media.

What kind of role sociability has in sustainable lifestyle for you?

I try to follow all sustainability themed accounts that I come across on Instagram. I have made friends with other sustainability influencers and we have collaborated to launch small campaigns. I think sociability has a big role and peer support has been important. A lot of peer support has come through the Instagram account, and it has also eased my own climate anxiety. It’s important to be in contact with similarly minded people and to see that there are others who are also worried about these things. This also motivates to keep going.

In what ways, do you think individuals can make a difference?

I think individuals can make a difference in many ways: they can influence their families and friends, at workplaces or hobby places. In the current discussions influencing as a consumer is perhaps a bit overemphasised. It might be that the most important thing individuals can do is to normalise sustainable way of life. It’s important that everyone would have examples of sustainable lifestyle; people who show that it’s not really about letting go of things but you can live just as fulfilling and meaningful life as before.

Celebrating in a rental dress

How sustainable lifestyle could be made easier for people?

I think in many ways. Renting and lending services could be better attainable and it should be clear that they save you money. For example renting a shared car is not so easy with small children as you need to carry the child seat and store it in your house with limited storage. I believe more examples of sustainable life are needed and the mainstream media could show sustainable way of life as the "normal", so that examples wouldn’t only be visible in social media. Superfluous consumption and habits related to it shouldn’t be portrayed as admirable in the media. Continuous and large-scale advertising and marketing don’t support at all living with less: on the contrary, as we are constantly encouraged to acquire everything supposedly necessary, it can be difficult to live sustainably in a constant flood of advertising and marketing.

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