Making Lapinkaari students residency more sustainable

By Juliette Caillé
10 March 2020 - Tags: Students , Housing
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The challenge consists of having a positive impact on the place I live during my journey in Finland, in Lapinkaari. Indeed, as a personal goal, I am determined to link my words to actions, by breaking this psychological border of fear preventing me to act and convincing me instead that there is no reason not to try to do something because I can do something.

Lapinkaari is an international student residence led by TOAS company. We are approximately 150 students living in small private rooms, and sharing common spaces, such as kitchens, sauna, gym and laundry. The residence is located in front of the harbour and behind the Rauhaniemi forest. This place is particular and intense in experiences; we are young people, coming from all around the globe, with different backgrounds, personalities and stories. In order words, Lapinkaari is offering a high-potentially favourable setting for a change. At least, that’s what I felt when I first moved to the place. Unluckily, throughout the first semester, we had to deal with some disrespectful behaviours, eventually creating tension among the students, and thus affecting the nice community-feeling.

Among this small community of 150 students, I know I am not the only one feeling deeply concerned about environmental issues and sustainability. In front of this high-potential context offered by the residence, I was forced to realize I had no reason not to act. So, I thought, why not creating a group, gathering like-minded people, and brainstorm about things we could do to make Lapinkaari more sustainable?

Besides, one of the main problems we must face nowadays is making people aware of the negative footprint and impact they leave on the environment. It isn’t an easy task. We all have different backgrounds or reasons leading us to a certain path, and for this case, making us aware -or not- about sustainability. Rising awareness asks for tolerance, to respect each other’s path and point of view. I had to work on this skill during the first half of my stay. For instance, quite often I had to explain the reasons why I was getting my food from the open market, why I was a vegetarian, why I was only going to second-hand shops or why I would spend so much energy cooking and baking everything by myself. This had to be done by explaining things, from my point of view, keeping in mind that what is normal or basic for me may not be normal for many other people.

The twin challenge consists of researching, learning and educating about ecology and sustainability, to create a long-term change in people’s mind, but also to link those intellectual dimensions to actions, to answer to the emergency of the climate crisis, in the present time. Linking words with act, align intentions to actions, appears to be the most efficient way to face the climate emergency, in order to, at least, try to save the minimum we can and survive.

The motivation for this challenge comes from a need to share the energy and knowledge I have towards other people, who can bring me, in turn, energy and knowledge as well -a great win-win situation. Moreover, there is an education target. I believe we are not taking or even having time enough any more to inform ourselves about health, nutrition or recycling. And when one starts exploring those questions, the feeling of being overwhelmed by new information can take away all the energy and lead one individual to give up. Then, my point is simple: if people around us are not interested in any environmental concern, it might be that they just don’t really grasp the point, or that they are too lazy, or they don’t link it with something else that interests them.

As a result, the goal is to give access to the clearest and easiest information about sustainable thinking and living to the tenants of Lapinkaari, by creating signs, tourist maps, workshops or group activities, with anyone interested in this.

After sending a message to the main group chat of the residence, 12 students had decided to join me, and we already met on the 20 th of January. I was delighted to see everyone interested and already involved in the project, sharing and bringing clever ideas about how to make Lapinkaari sustainable. We have sent an email to TOAS, to know if we could have their support and to discuss about the limits of our action. We are still planning to start to act, in parallel, with things we can do on our own. As I would like this group to be equal for everyone and based on consensus, every idea is able to change and to be discussed. We already have few plans, but we will go into further details on next meetings.

Juliette Caillé (Feb. 2020)
- Making Lapinkaari students residency sustainable (2/2)