We interviewed Pia Vaquer about how she is implementing ecological values in her everyday life. Pia lives in Espoo with her family, works as a marketing consultant and is running for City Council in the 2021 election. In the interview we discussed what motivates Pia to make ecological choices and what kind of difficulties she has faced when changing her habits more ecological.
How did you first become interested in ecological lifestyle and circular economy?
I have learned from my childhood a mentality, according to which nothing should be wasted. I believe, I have inherited it from my mother and grandmother, who had to be frugal after the war. I think i'm also the kind of person, that I want things to have meaning and I don't like to be surrounded with unnecessary things. I became more interested in ecological lifestyle some years ago partly though my profession as I was studying service design. Through that, I also became interested in circular design. I want to put my ecological values into practice also in my profession and I seek to have an impact as a citizen, not only as a consumer. This is also the reason why i'm running for city council.
I want to have an impact as a citizen, not only as a consumer.
What kind of ecological and circular choices do you make in your everyday life?
I buy mostly used things and what I don't need anymore, I sell or give away. Sometimes if I need something, I buy things from ecological brands. I always try to come up with new reuse and recycling ideas. For example I have turned old calendars into cards and used envelopes as drawing paper for kids. Instead of buying, I try to rent. A while ago I for example rented a machine for washing the terrace. In my family we avoid single use products and use for example cloth bags in the grocery store. I have reduced the use of chemicals and we use lemon, vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. With our backyard, I try to support biodiversity and be mindful of the surrounding nature. We have there for example an insect hotel. I travel by bicycle and we have reduced car use. We also try to save energy whenever cooking or doing laundry.
What has been difficult?
I think sustainable consumption is still quite difficult and consumers need more information about the carbon footprints of products, in the form of certificates for instance, because it's very difficult to asses the consequences of ones choices. I wish there were more products with less packaging and plastic. Sometimes it has been difficult to find rental services that would suit my current situation and needs. Making ecological choices, I sometimes have to negotiate with my family members as both parents might not always have the same level of energy to go to the store by bicycle or sometimes the children aren't thrilled with vegetarian meals.
Doing my best to diminish the environmental load, I feel less stressed about the state of the world.
What motivates you to carry out sustainable practices?
Ecological values and a will to do the right thing motivate me to make sustainable choices. At least I feel, like I have to do something and doing my best to diminish the environmental load, I feel less stressed about the state of the world. Of course I must accept that I can't change the world alone but it's enough if everyone can make the world a little bit better. I'm also motivated by a professional interest in sustainability. As a mother I want to grant my children the best possible future. I believe that for many people their own children can make the future and future generation's rights more concrete.
How do you think we could move towards a more sustainable society?
Awareness should be raised more, and information should be provided in a simple and easy form, when people are searching for it or need it. Sustainable choices should be cheaper and easier than unsustainable ones. People have a responsibility to make sustainable choices as consumers, and they can have even bigger effect the more they communicate about their choices. By communicating for example in social media people can share information and they also imply that the issue is important to them, so other people might think that this should also be important to me.
Businesses have a big role as they should be able to communicate better about sustainable choices. Businesses should also benefit society and not only benefit shareholders. Also the city has a role and for example city bikes are a wonderful example of how the city could support people's health and also ecological commuting.