A Year Without New Clothes

“The world is drowning in stuff and all the closets are full of unused clothes. Sewers are slaving away sweatshops and landfills are full of textile waste.

Let’s help the environment together: let’s not buy any new clothes for a year! Let’s use old things, buy second hand and borrow from friends. In cases of emergency we’ll allow three exceptions (the tough guys will obviously make it without any cheats). And by the way: shoes are also counted as clothes! But with socks and underwear you are allowed to make an exception.”

A year without new clothes is a social media campaign I organised in Facebook, with the aim to make people pay more attention to the problems of the consumption culture and to change the world more environmentally friendly direction. The campaign, arranged every year since 2014, has achieved great success, received a lot of media attention and got many people to change their consumption habits into something more ecological and ethical.


Cleaning Day

Cleaning Day is the best day of the year for the people interested in flea markets and recycling.  The coolest festival of the year turns cities and neighbourhoods into big flea markets. Anyone can sell their stuff on the streets, yards or homes and make the best finds of the day. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the streets, all around Finland and also abroad.

The idea of Cleaning Day is to make recycling easy and to create a lively and responsible urban culture. The Cleaning Day doesn’t have an official organiser, but everyone participating is responsible for their own event. Everyone is also responsible for cleaning up after themselves. The participants can announce their place of sales in the map found in the event’s website.

The first Cleaning Day was organised in May 2012. The idea that originated was Pauliina Seppälä’s Facebook post about the need for this kind of event. It was obvious that there was need for such a day and so a group of people who were enthusiastic about the idea started to work on it.

The original idea was to follow the example of some cities abroad and allow people to leave their furniture on the streets, where they could be picked up by anyone and in the end garbage trucks would clear the streets. From that we developed it to a more lighter and more citizen-oriented event: the sellers take care that the streets and parks are tidy after the event, but we organised some recycling spots around Helsinki, where people could bring their stuff for free. The city organisation had no part in the event, but after the first time it gave the blessing for the event and new way of organising a flea market festival.

Nowadays Cleaning Day is organised two times a year, on Saturday of the week 21, and in the end of August. At the beginning there was no real organisation behind the Cleaning Day, only after the first event we founded Common Ground that took the event under its name.



Park(ing) Day

Imagine – if there were fewer cars, how much more space could we have? What kind of things could you do in a space as big as a parking space? The idea of Park(ing) Day is to inspire people to imagine, how many different things you do with the space that’s now reserved for cars and their parking. Like in its international version, during the Park(ing) Day, parking spaces are taken over for one day with different kinds of installations, performances, music, art and other fun ways. The programme is mostly organised by the people participating in the event. We arranged the Park(ing) day in the years 2012 and 2013 together with Yhteismaa and Ilmastoinfo.


No Plastic Bag for Frozen Food, Please

“Would you like the frozen food to be put in a bag?” is a question often asked at  the cash register in the grocery stores that many people find annoying. Why on earth should they be put in a plastic bag? Many people do put them, since the cashier asks. The amount of plastic waste produced worldwide is too large anyway, and so in the spring of 2014, I created the Facebook page “No plastic bag for the frozen food, please.” The page was aimed at ending the unnecessary over-use of plastic bags, but also to inform people about the problems of plastic waste and raise awareness of the environmental issues related to the consumption culture in general. This turned out to be successful: the page quickly got more than 10 000 likes and the issue itself received a lot of media attention. And look! Many shops stopped asking the question – and some even started campaigning to reduce the amount of plastic waste themselves.

Better Prints

The world is full of clothes and bags that no one wants to use. They are, however, already there, so how could you make better use out of them? By creating a better print on them, of course.

The idea of tuning used clothes into something new had been on my mind for some time. As we travelled the Nordic countries during the SIC! on Rails-trip, it made sense to do something useful while we were there and put words into action. At the workshops called Better Prints Without Borders, which were organized on the streets, anyone could print themselves a t-shirt or a bag with the text “Without Borders” or “No Borders” in English or in the local language. These free workshops have so far been organized in Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen.

Better Prints was also a part of a project called Valtaajat (Intruders, in English), which was organized by Yhteismaa and an organization called Tatsi ry. This project organized a two-week course aimed for unemployed young people, who during the course learned about different printing methods, designed their own prints and printed them.