Sitra Lifestyle test: Change starts with all of us

12.5.2021WorkReading time 5 min

Tackling climate change requires system-level transformation and corporate responsibility. In addition, it requires actions from all of us consumers. In Finland, our client Sitra’s Lifestyle test has been the most significant tool driving change within the society. Published in December 2017, the test quickly became a viral phenomenon after its launch, and since then people have tested their lifestyles over a million times.

Sitra’s Sustainable everyday life theme page: “Up to 68 percent of Finland’s total greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to the choices we, ordinary people, make every day. How we choose to live and move around and what we eat and buy is the key to reducing the emissions we are responsible for. We are all part of the solution.”  

Finland is committed to the Paris agreement on climate change, which aims to limit the world’s average temperature rise up to 1,5 degrees. In order to stay within these limits, our average carbon footprint by 2030 should only be a fourth of what it is today. At the moment, an average Finn’s carbon footprint is approximately 10,300kg CO2e, and by 2030 it should be approximately 2500kg CO2e. 

Responding to climate change requires both small- and large-scale actions. In addition to system-level transformation and corporate responsibility, this calls for change in consumer behaviour, which again requires concrete information and examples. Above all, the change requires clear and easy means suitable for you to reduce your carbon footprint in your everyday life.  

Sitra’s Lifestyle test and 100 ways to be smart & sustainable was developed to answer this challenge as a tool to influence consumer behaviour. The test was designed in collaboration with Sitra’s Sustainable everyday life team and several service design professionals. Frantic was in charge of developing and implementing the test’s user interface.

Sitra’s Lifestyle test is one of its kind in the world

Before the Lifestyle test was published, consumers did not have a test that would also suggest customized actions to curb climate change based on your carbon footprint. The test was born, when Sitra saw that everyone should have the possibility to estimate one’s climate impact in an easy way. A similar way to estimate one’s carbon footprint had not been developed anywhere in the world and today, the Lifestyle test is still one of its kind. 

“The original brief included a question if it’s possible to find out a citizen’s carbon footprint via five questions. Five wasn’t quite enough. Eventually, there were 25 questions and since then, two more questions have been added to the test,” Sitra’s Sustainable everyday life team’s Project Director Markus Terho explains. 

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An easy 27-question test reveals your own and an average Finn’s carbon footprint and how it divides into different areas, such as housing, traffic and travel, food and other consumption. After testing your lifestyle and choices and getting your results, the test takes you to a list of “100 ways to be smart and sustainable” and offers you suitable and clear ways on how to decrease your carbon footprint.

A viral phenomenon in Finland with over one million tests done 

Published in December 2017, the Lifestyle test immediately became a viral phenomenon and over 140,000 Finns took the test within the first few weeks. The original objectives of the test have been since reached multiple times over. The hugely popular Lifestyle test’s over one million tests prove that Finns are a very conscious nation.

“The Finns' attitudes and the awareness of climate change have changed remarkably since the test was published,” Terho says. “In 2016 Sitra's national poll research results show that 29% of Finns have changed the way they live because of climate change, whereas by the end of 2019 the percentage had grown to 53%.”

Raising international interest

The easy-to-use test has reached different target groups extensively. As the test has been developed in open-source code, everyone can freely make use of the test as they wish. The test also benefits companies, as businesses can take advantage of the overall test or parts of it suitable for their business. The test and the ‘100 ways to be smart and sustainable’ contents have been utilised by e.g. Compensate and Ikea, and the test is in use on the Sitoumus2050.fi ran by the Prime Minister’s Office. The Lifestyle test is also a great influence tool for other countries and Sitra’s spokespeople have presented the test at international events.  

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“Even though the test hasn’t been actively promoted elsewhere other than at events, there has been international interest in utilising the test in e.g. the UK, Canada, Slovenia, Estonia, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Israel and Greece. The countries are in different phases in deploying the test,” Terho continues. “At the moment we are developing and scaling the test for international use and our aim is to make the deployment of the test as easy as possible. The test is part of a wider sustainable everyday life activation concept. To support deploying and developing the concept further we’ve started an international Shift 1,5 community, fostering sustainable everyday life.”

Company personnel in different organisations have also been utilising the test by individually doing the test and collectively deciding on various means to decrease greenhouse emissions. These means may be e.g. agreeing to bike to work or enjoying a weekly vegetarian lunch. 

According to Sitra’s “Impact on sustainable behaviour: Case COVID-19” report, over half of the Finnish citizens have stopped to think about their ways of life during the pandemic. The same phenomenon is seen globally in Google’s search trends, as “How to live a sustainable lifestyle” search has recently increased by 4550 per cent. 

The values and attitudes change first, then the behaviour. In Sitra’s national poll research 80% of Finns have noticed that the best way to tackle anxiety caused by climate change is to pursue a sustainable life.

Go and test your own carbon footprint: lifestyletest.sitra.fi

Images: Sitra & Frantic

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