A new perspective in order to mitigate the climate crisis

Now we stand at the crossroads and the choice is ours.

Here in the Finnish team, we have been thinking a lot about how to get a new perspective on this climate issue for our meeting in Turku this month.

In many places, great work has been done to raise the climate issue to the forum. It has been done good regional cooperation. All in all, in 2019, climate issues have come to the arena, both in the media, in politicians’ speeches and in commercials.

Many people are fully aware of the need to conserve energy, reduce consumption and convert food to plant-based.

However, this is not enough. We know that, too, and it causes concern and anxiety.

We need to make our whole system change. At the Turku meeting, we will focus on how we, with our library partners, could develop and bring about activities that promote political decisions and rules, which  make society more environmentally friendly.

For this task we have designed creative exercises for our meeting, we will listen a well-known Finnish scientist and Turku environmental activists, and exchanging ideas on what kind of concrete events we will be organizing during this spring.

We Finnish My Green Identity -team has been trying to gather a network, and now we are cooperating regionally with the city of Turku and also with Turku climate activists.

Nationwide we are cooperating nationwide with SITRA. 

Sitra’s operations are funded by returns from an endowment originally granted by the Finnish Parliament. According to law, the funds must be invested securely and in a profitable manner.

It is by  SITRA connection, in particular,  we Turku team have become convinced, that it is important to focus on big measures that require political pressure, not just focusing on the things we as individuals can influence in our daily lives.

Mari Pantsar is the director of Sitra, the Finnish National Fund for Independence. Since 2014 she has been leading the Carbon Neutral Circular Economy theme at Sitra, which aims to accelerate Finland’s transition towards a more ecologically sustainable, competitive society and create new economic growth from the circular economy operating models. She speaks strongly about systemic change, and wants to send us a letter, which I think is very important to read carefully before our meeting.

A letter from Mari Pantsar
My Green Identity Meeting Program

Raija Ala-Lipasti, Turku Women’s Centre, Finland
Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

Happy Green Year!

With the year 2019 ending, let’s take a look at what the libraries accomplished just before the holiday season. The photos tell a colourful tale of ideas for sustainable Christmas decoration, as well as other great ways to meet the new decade with the wellbeing of the planet Earth on our minds.

Creative Christmas workshop  for families in Valmiera Library.

“In the Raisio Library we had a wonderful Green Friday on 28th November. It was a circulation day of electronics arranged with our partner EkOte (an ecological department store). Sakari and Susanne from EkOte also taught people how to make bio waste bags from old newspapers.” Eeva Kiviniemi, Raisio Library, Finland.

Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I. Simonaitytės biblioteka in Klaipėda, Lithuania arranged a real Christmas events‘ marathon.

“This year our library emphasizes eco-friendliness more than ever and invites everyone to participate in this wonderful attraction of well-being” Darina Detolli tells.

”Each year different local organizations participate in this event by bringing their unique decorated Christmas tree to library‘s patio. In addition, according to the rising concern about ecology, this year we recommend to use environmentally friendly decorations, or at least – reduce waste and consumerism.”

Edukacinė Erdvė in Klaipėda also organised two workshops for families and children: Forest animals’ Christmas workshop and Eco-Deco Christmas decorations’ workshop. Participants made decorations from natural forest materials (cones, chestnuts, bark etc.) and some colourful felt.

A Green Friday meeting in Turku, Finland was first postponed due to a strike and then held on the 15th of December in Turku City Library.

“In the meeting with representatives from the City of Turku, we talked about the circular economy and different ways to fulfil it in everyday life. New possibilities were also explored in developing international collaboration and also how various national actors could work together more effectively. And of course, we talked about how to spend a sustainable Christmas. A rental tree idea as a good idea and partners’ good work was presented.” Raija Ala-Lipasti, Turku Women’s Centre.

Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I. Simonaitytės biblioteka together with Edukacinė Erdvė continued their Christmas workshop marathon with a Ginger cookies workshop using cardboard as material.

”Sounds interesting but you should see this! The results remind us of real gingerbread cookies right from the oven. Therefore our advice is – use old cardboard to make cute Christmas decorations. We also had a workshop using old jar lids. This workshop gathered families to create jingling Christmas decorations” Darina Detolli tells.

Anete Bērziņa tells about the three green highlights in Valmiera Library (Latvia) in December:

“Creative Christmas workshop for Families – visitors to the library created decors from nature materials.

A wish tree / wall where everyone had a chance to write a wish for a better world or better self in next year!

Lectures and workshops on environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyles. The non-formal adult education program “Balanced Life: Environment, Human, Society” (six classes altogether, once a month in 2019-2020) is organized by Valmiera Library in cooperation with Valmiera City Municipality and supported by Nordplus international project My Green Identity.”

A green discussion group took place in Hiiumaa Library in Estonia on the 11th of December.

“We discussions on how to buy food with your own packaging, how to consume more economically at Christmas time and how to reduce your ecological footprint. The discussion was managed by Kristi who is also our project member and representative of the NGO V.E.S.T.A. We had a very varied evening and hopefully we’ll meet again.” Kerli Varrik, Hiiumaa Library.

And finally, the last event from Klaipėda Christmas events‘ marathon, a pre-Christmas workshop. ”What a cute present for a family member – family miniature resting in bed. We used different old textiles, acorns (with their hats on) and some other materials” Darina Detolli tells.

”Green Library” event series in Tallinn

Tallinn Central Library organized a series of events to raise awareness on sustainability an to inspire members of the local community to reduce their ecological footprint. The series was called Roheline raamatukogu (in English ”Green Library”).

The first event of the series took place in Kadrioru branch library on the 16th of November and was called Children’s hour: what to do with old things? It was quite popular, having twelve participants, ten of whom were kids and two adults. People were very positive and thought that it was a great thing for a library to be active in this way and to oppose wasteful shopping culture. The librarians also enjoyed it very much.

Väike-Õismäe branch library organized a recycling workshop on the 23rd of November. Sixteen children and four adults participated in it.

An eco-packaging workshop took place in the Department of Literature in Foreign Languages of Tallinn Central Library on the 28th of November. The Russian-language event was led by Marina Datskovskaja, who is a talented handicraft specialist, a youth worker, and a teacher. A total of 26 teenagers and three adults participated in it.

The event started with a lecture about what is going on with our climate today and how each individual person is contributing to the rapid changes that have been taking place. It was followed by a discussion about the different ways our everyday decisions enlarge or reduce our personal or national ecological footprint. They also discussed how we must change our behavior as consumers and keep the Earth in mind when celebrating Christmas, birthdays, etc. Celebrations can be more mindful and less wasteful by utilizing what we already have and gifting self-made things instead of things that are newly bought.

The lecture was followed by a practical workshop. The materials used were, what many people have in their homes, unless they have already sent them to the landfills: toilet paper rolls, paper bags (from shops, takeaway places, etc.), strips of leftover Christmas wrapping paper from previous years, old fabric and yarn, reused printing paper, etc. A minimal amount of glue was used by only applying it to certain points on the paper and by using other techniques, like tying or folding, to keep the pieces in place. The end result was sweet-looking and personalized packaging that would make anyone happy to receive it.

29th of November was the Green Friday when most of the events took place.

A recycling workshop Let’s make Christmas lanterns! was organized at Laagna branch library. There were four adults and one baby participating. The group was rather small, because the workshop was held at noon when many people are at work or at school. However, those who came enjoyed the workshop very much and were further amused by the happy baby.  The young child also reminded them all, that our decisions today will have significant results for the next generations. The sooner we relearn everyday behaviour and make it less wasteful, the better chances our children and grandchildren will have.

There was music playing at the workshop and a lot of conversation, about climate change and other relevant issues, while their hands worked. One participant said: ”It wasn’t difficult to do this recycling arts and crafts project and the result is very beautiful.”

The photo was taken by the head librarian of the children’s and youth
service, Merle Tanilsoo.

In the Department of Literature in Estonian of Tallinn Central Library they organized the workshop the workshop Homes for bottles: making bottle collecting boxes for the library. There were seven children and one adult participating. The children liked the workshop so much that they didn’t want to leave when it was finished. They promised to continue with such projects at home and to tell their families about this possibility. All participants said, that they know how important it is to fight climate change and that this issue is close to their hearts.

Torupilli branch library organized a trash sorting/recycling game for kids. They had three kids participating, all of whom were active and eager participants in all activities. One of them was so excited that they stayed an hour longer, just to learn more. Hopefully, with such enthusiasm, these kids shall carry their newly acquired knowledge home, from where it will travel further into the community.

They talked about the concepts of reusing and sharing – a library is a perfect example here – and also the importance of sorting and recycling one’s waste. They learned how to live in a way that produces as little waste as possible and, if waste is produced, how to deal with it properly and in such a way, that it causes the least amount of damage to the environment. In order to learn these concepts, they played several games, where, based on previous clues, children had to find answers to various environment-related questions by looking into thematic library materials. The game worked kid of like a treasure hunt and knowledge is one heck of a treasure. They also played more active games by actually sorting trash at the library.

The librarian also told participants about her personal experience of learning to become an environmentally conscious person by, over time, taking bigger and bigger steps towards proper waste management in her own home. For example, she showed them locations in the city where it is possible to recycle most types of trash that people produce every day.

All around Tallinn there are collection points where people can bring every type of waste you can possibly imagine, which then gets recycled. Kuhu Viia (in English: Where to Take) is supported by the Ministry of the Environment. They recently published a web-map that people can use in order to find these locations. The map also includes instructions on what goes where and how to process it previously (plastic food containers must be rinsed clean etc). The map can beviewed here: kuhuviia.ee.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know that this is how proper recycling works or they cannot be bothered to do it. Usually, people only sort bio waste and paper waste (these containers are normally present in the yards of most homes) and put the rest in the general trash bin, which is a direct route to landfills and waterways (and from there to the sea and into the world oceans). We should all do our utmost to recycle the absolute maximum amount of waste we produce. If that means that we need to take a few extra steps by washing some of our waste and then taking it to acollection point, which can be a few hundred meters away from our house, then that is what we have to start seeing as the new, responsible normal. It should not be considered normal to dump ou dirty, mixed waste into one huge bin and then forgetting about it, as if it is not our problem anymore. One’s waste is one’s own responsibility.

A sewing workshop took place at Sõle branch library. Even though they didn’t have many people participating, it was very fruitful and interesting for those who came. Their instructor, the library volunteer Astrid, showed participants how to turn a second-hand sweater into a ruffled dress and how to make new sleeves for an old sweatshirt by using parts from an old and broken sweater. They also learned how to renew old jeans and how to patch up other broken clothing items. One of the participants had brought along a scarf that they had made out of old yarn leftovers. In the end, the participants felt very inspired to continue mending their old clothing instead of buying new things. And that is something we should all start doing. Our behavioral principle for the future should be to reduce, reuse, and repair. And once those avenues have been exhausted, we should finally recycle properly and to our maximum ability. We owe it to ourselves now, to the future generations tomorrow and to our home – the only planet we know of that is still, despite the damage we’ve already done, able to support life – mother Earth.

Text: Kristel Palk, Tallinn Central Library

Events for Children at Vilnius County Public Library

In 2015 all United Nations Member States have confirmed the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, for ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. A lot of attention in these goals is paid to a variety of actions and measures that contribute to the protection of our planet. Here at Vilnius County Adomas Mickevičius Public Library, we were thinking about ways of informing our communities about sustainability and sustainable lifestyles.

We agreed that first of all we want to pay our attention to the responsible consumption, which is also the number 12 goal at the list of Sustainable Development Goals. As it is said on the website of United Nations Development Programme, “encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030”.

We believe that sustainable lifestyle and responsible consumption could be developed through establishing new habits and exploring new ways of consuming. That is why we have cooperated with the sustainable project, called “Kita forma”, and organized events for children where they had to use secondary materials to make new objects, tools and products. In this way, people of a very young age were informed about how it is possible to give a new life to already used and/or seemingly unnecessary things. All of these events were organized in late November, as a response to the increasing consumption due to the upcoming Black Friday and Christmas.

On the 18th- 30th of November we had an exhibition of the works made from secondary materials, created by children of different ages. These included artworks and different board games. The children have created their works from a variety of materials, such as paper, carton, wood, textile, steel from cutlery and jewellery and so on. The use of plastic, however, was not encouraged. The aim of this exhibition was to show that eco-design, recycling or using recycled materials can become an integral part of our daily lives and can have a much more attractive form than many of us would think. All of the children’s works can be seen here

On the 26th-27th of November there were workshops organized at our library for the pupils of Vilnius schools. All together there were 5 workshops, each lasted around 2 hours and the children were invited to create Christmas decorations from secondary materials. The purpose of these workshops was to introduce the members of young generations to the opportunities of secondary use and the principles of sustainable lifestyle, as well as to encourage them to use these principles in their everyday environments: at home, at school, at their library. The workshops were complimented by the excursion around our library. 

On the 30th of November the project “Kita Forma” has organized a one-day festival at our library. The festival has started with a few creative workshops during which the participants (children of different age and their families) could make Christmas gifts and Advent calendars from secondary materials and renew their cotton shirts or bags by applying prints of different designs on them. During the festival the children also had an opportunity to play board games made from secondary materials and engage in a variety of different gaming activities. The festival has ended with an unformal award ceremony, where the best works of the exhibition were awarded. Four prizes were given for best eco-objects, four prizes for the best board games and one prize was given for the audience pick of the favorite children’s creation, all of the above made from secondary materials. The pictures of the festival’s activities can be found here.

During these events, Vilnius County Adomas Mickevičius Public Library has received many interesting, creative and smart works, but most importantly, we have been amazed by the motivation and dedication of the children, their teachers and families to involve themselves into the eco-friendly thinking. Many people not only from Vilnius, but also from Vilnius regions have joined and therefore we believe that our messages about recycling, using materials for several times and reduction of waste has been spread widely.

Text: Ieva Pranckūnaitė, Vilnius County Adomas Mickevičius Public Library
Photos: Tatjana Grigorčenkienė and Paulius Olšauskas

Green thumbs-up to Finnish media

One of the leading principles in project My Green Identity is looking at the flip side of carbon footprint and seeing all the numerous possibilities of sustainability. We like to call it “green fingerprint”. It consists of all the positive action – individual or organized – towards a more sustainable planet. We have decided to give “green thumbs-up” to various examples of constructive behaviour or action.

Media is a game-changer in all action against climate change, it has enormous power. That is why in Turku we decided to take a deeper look at how the Finnish media covers the issue. 

Workshop “Vihreä peukku viestinnälle” (green thumbs-up to media) was the first public event organized as a part of My Green Identity project in Finland. One Saturday afternoon in October we gathered together at Turku City Library, where Raija Ala-Lipasti from Turku Women’s Centre held a concise but very informative speech on the 2019 IPCC Report and its main concern, Earth’s hydrosphere.  

Ville Ala-Lipasti had looked trough some Finnish newspapers and periodicals for recent articles on climate change. They varied from editorials to interviews with experts and covered many different angles of climate change. We worked in pairs, reading a couple of articles each. We specifically looked for good points and fine pieces of climate change journalism, not for flaws – although there were a couple of articles we decided to set aside as not worthy of appraisal.

We discussed all the articles briefly and then started the main task of the workshop: writing thank you notes to the journalists and editorial staffs in question. In our letters, we told them about the My Green Identity project and thanked them for a job well done. We signed the letters with our own names and sent them off.

Afternote: Several receivers thanked for the positive feedback, being used to reverse reception to articles on climate change. 

Nina Huurrevaara, Turku, Finland
Photography: Ville Ala-Lipasti

Exhibition on the 2019 IPCC report

We decided to do a 3 panel exhibition in the youth corner of our Department of Literature in Foreign Languages. Each panel has 3 rows of posters – left side is information in Estonian, centre is for photos and the right side is the same information in English. You can see the panels here.

Each of the panels has the same logic: the left row has informative posters in Estonian, the centre row has photos (with references to photographers and/or websites/news outlets where the photo was taken from) and the right row has the same informative posters in English.

The 1st (green) panel has a quote from Ko Barrett (Vice Chair of the IPCC) on the first two informative posters. The third informative poster asks the viewer to take a look at the IPCC report. They can use the QR-code to access the report or (if their phone camera doesn’t work or they are not that good with using QR-codes) by entering the web address into their browser. The photos in the middle show the sitiation with the melting ice caps. The third photo is the controversial starving polar bear photo that stirred up quite an uproar because people assumed that the photographer’s (Cristina Mittermeier) aim was to show how current climate change was starving polar bears, without actual proof that this particular polar bear was starving because of this reason. The photographer clarified the situation later and explained that their aim was to ”take a photo that foretold the future.” In order to avoid controversy here too, we added that quote to this photo.

The 2nd (blue) panel has a quote about wildfires from the IPCC report on the first informative poster. The second informative poster asks the viewer to watch Annalise Davis’ video ”Help” – also available via a QR-code or a web aadress. The third poster explains that this dissemination is done as part of the ”My Green Identity” project and that it’s done by different organisations in Nordic and Baltic countries and that the funding is by Nordplus (big logo in the bottom). The photos in the middle show three scenes of wildfires – in California (USA), Obidos (Portugal) and Vikipalu (Estonia).

The 3rd (red) panel has another quote by Ko Barrett on it’s first two informative posters – about the way communities in coastal regions and faraway Arctic areas have to fundamentally change their ways of life due to the changes in the ocean and the frozen parts of our planet. The third poster asks the viewer to fill out a questionnaire (Estonian version is here, English version is here) about their feelings about the report and what they (or their local government) can or should do about it. The questionnaires can be filled out by anyone who has read the report – they don’t have to see our exhibition first. So I encourage you guys to answer the survey too and feel free to disseminate it among your customers and colleagues. We are planning to do a Facebook post about this on our library’s Facebook page and there we will also share the survey links. 

Kristel Palk, Tallinn Central Library