We interviewed sustainability influencer Susanna Luukinen about circular economy as part of her everyday life and what sustainable lifestyle means for her. Susanna lives in Helsinki and works in the field of climate politics. She also shares on her Instagram @ekoeleganssi ideas about sustainable living, smart management of finances, conscious consumption and minimalism.
How did you become interested in sustainable way of life?
I have favoured vegetarian food and flea markets since my teens, but in the summer of 2017, I came across the Zero Waste phenomenon online. Seeing that it is possible to fit a whole years trash in one glass jar, revolutionised my understanding of how far ecological acts can be taken. Through the Zero Waste idea, I also became acquainted with the world of more holistic circular economy thinking; I began to change my own way of life and became excited about improving my own life. I was also involved in founding the Zero Waste Finland association in 2018.
How did you start transforming your everyday life?
Initially, I started paying attention to waste reduction. I began to avoid waste that is difficult to recycle as well as disposable products. For example, I began to carry a bottle of water more faithfully with me, switched from paper napkins to linen, and figured out what cosmetics and cleaning products can be bought in recyclable or refillable packaging. I started to favour second hand options. I built a small functional wardrobe and started paying attention to energy consumption. Certainly the biggest ecological choice was moving with my spouse to a smaller apartment. I have also modified my diet to more plant based. In general, my attitudes toward goods, property, and consumption have changed; I strive to take greater responsibility for my own procurement and also to dispose things as responsibly as possible when it they are no longer needed.
Have you learned something relevant to sustainable lifestyle from your childhood home?
Probably prudent housekeeping and mindful consumption. Indeed, I have found that frugality often leads to sustainable choices. I have inherited a frugal attitude towards life from home, and at home the goods were always maintained and repaired. A good example of this is that when I moved on my own, shoe care equipment was among my first purchases. Doing the housework properly, maintaining the goods and cleaning them often enough and with the right tools will extend the life of the goods a lot. This I have learned from home: for example, the sheets remain white when washed properly. Wasteless cooking and creative use of ingredients are also partly learned from home and developed to the highest efficiency in my own home.
Living with less is very ecological and ecological choices often simplify life. I feel like this combination has really improved my wellbeing.
How has your lifestyle influenced your wellbeing?
Partly detached from sustainability, I am also interested in minimalism and have been striving to simplify my life for several years. Living with less is very ecological, and ecological choices often simplify life. I feel like this combination has really improved my well-being. I wasn’t a crazy shopper before, but I could tour the shops as a pastime and buy things without thinking about it too much. After questioning these habits, my life has become calmer. Also money is saved when life does not revolve around consumption. I’ve learned to focus with consumption on the things that really bring me joy, and investing in ecological and ethical goods with good quality. It seems that the world revolves largely around consumption, and at least for my part, letting go of that has opened up the opportunity to live life the way I want. Doing eco deeds also reduces climate anxiety: I could certainly feel worse if I did a great deal of damage to the environment through my own actions.
It's often difficult to know, what is the most sustainable solution. What do you think about this?
A few years ago, I realised the fact that the social media Zero Waste catalog is perhaps not really the most sustainable lifestyle. When I started working on climate politics, I learned a lot about what are really the most effective ways to reduce emissions. I have decided to focus primarily on the big picture, and things effect of which I can test with, for example, a carbon footprint counter. Compact living, walking and using public transport, as well as a plant-based diet are the most important deeds for me. Of course, it’s also significant to be able to inspire and influence many other people through my Instagram account. I work full time in climate politics, so I know I do a lot for the environment. There is no need to strive for perfection, but everyone can do as much as they can. This is how much I can handle.