Sustainability issues arise wherever there is a risk of difficult or irreversible loss of the things or qualities of the environment that people value. And whenever there are such risks there is a degree of urgency to take action.
Some environmental issues are largely of local significance while others have regional
or even global relevance. At the personal or household level, there are a host of actions that people can take to contribute to environmental sustainability at home, when travelling or accessing services or goods, at work, or when acting as a community member or citizen or as an investor of personal funds.
Due to the Finland report in out project Attitudes towards sustainable food have improved and there is an increasing demand for safe, healthy and environmentally friendly food. The society supports sustainability eg by making it possible to return plastic bottles in turn for a refund as well as plastic packaging to be used again. The number of plastic bags used is bigger than in other countries, but luckily shops have options for normal plastic bags and the bags are reused at home. Schools play an important role in educating a new generation of
consumers. There are lots of different campaigns that aim to make sustainability a daily goal for everyone, such as the “Buy nothing day”. Food wastage is a major issue, which is being tackled eg. by restaurants specializing on leftover food.
Finland is a wealthy, industrial country with largely mechanized agriculture and one of the top countries in the use of technology. The most used energy sources are nuclear power, hydropower and biomass. The burning of waste for energy and heat production is encouraged by law. Though the price of solar panels has plunged, the number of solar panels used is still relatively low. Organic farming offers sustainable farming methods and there are over 700 organic livestock farms in Finland with the number still growing.
According to UN the key to solving the food problem is small scale organic farming.Aside from people having their own small gardens or greenhouses, roof farming, vertical farming and hydroponic farming help reach this goal. Only about 7,3% of Finland’s area is cultivated and the distances to nearest farms can be quite long in metropolitan areas like Helsinki. Because of the cold winters and temperate summers as well as the unpredictable weather, Finland is not as ideal an agricultural country as Turkey, for example. Since local production in the winter requires lamps and heating, local food is not always the most sustainable option.
Around a third of the environmental impact caused by Finnish consumption is caused by food consumption. The most serious effect is the eutrophication of water systems. Availability of clean tap water supports sustainable and healthy food production. The bad economic situation results in people buying less sustainable food, as it often is more expensive. The interest rates are low, which may encourage investors to invests in sustainable companies. The income level in Finland is high but so are the living 30 costs. The growing popularity of sustainable goods can be seen in the rising popularity of fair trade goods. Consumers want more with less, which challenges companies to change the way they operate. The recovery of the economy and consumers regaining their trust for the economic situation will no doubt prove to have positive effects on sustainability in the food sector.
Finland is the least corrupt country in the world with open discussion in politics. The popularity of the Greens, a party with ecological values, has increased and also most of the other major parties have some degree of green values. An environmental tax is collected from the production and consumption of energy and materials.
As a member state of the EU about 75% of Finnish legislation comes from the EU. Both the EU and the national legislation try to increase sustainable food production and the awareness of consumers as well as the transparency of producers and companies. Products containing GMOs have to be clearly labelled, organic production is strictly regulated and monitored, and laws concerning the treatment of animals are detailed.
Hygiene is guaranteed by requiring all employees of food processing sites to have a hygiene pass and by registering all food production facilities. Legally starting a business is easy and there is a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. A negativelegal factor is that using insects in commercial food production is not allowed. Companies producing plastic packaging are responsible for collecting and repurposing said packages. Every man’s rights guarantee an easy source of raw materials for small scale food production, in other words picking mushrooms or berries from the forest. Finns have a good work ethic and their interest in sustainability is growing. The popularity of fair trade is increasing especially among wealthier Finns. The origin of food is important to Finns but many cannot afford to buy organic food because it is so expensive. Though laws on animal treatment are detailed and on paper their living conditions are good, not everyone follows the laws and thus increased monitoring is needed. The amount of waste in Finland has increased, but so has recycling. It is uncommon not to recycle anything but many households don’t recycle very much.