When you become aware, you become responsible

Picture of Elina Aaltolainen-HarjuojaI was born into an ordinary working-class family in the late 70s. My father was a local priest. My mother was a nurse who stayed home to take care of our family of six. Nature was part of our values and daily lives: we learned both to care for it and to enjoy it.

We filled the frost with all the superfood the Finnish forest provided us. We ate mostly vegetarian, recycled waste, mom made our clothes, and everything was repaired if skills allowed. Showers were quick, we kept the apartment cold, and we traveled abroad only once in my childhood. We did so because it was the right thing to do, and because we did not have a lot of money.

In 40 years, the world changed a lot. More money came into my life. I bought clothes from the store instead of my mother making them. Prices and quality dropped, so it was easier to throw them away than to fix them. We bought exotic fruits flown from abroad instead of picking blueberries. We flew south several times a year.

The increase in wealth changed my behavior gradually. It was not because I did not care.

I did not understand the big picture

Now, as a middle-aged family mother, I see more and more of my own mother’s behaviors in myself. I remind my children of turning off the lights and taking long showers. I push more and more vegetarian food into our everyday food. We grow salads in our backyard. We buy used clothes and our toddlers get recycled toys. Trips are to the local lakes, instead of abroad.

The reason is of course an understanding of the environmental threats we are facing. I am concerned about the future.

And at the same time, I am very aware of being lucky enough to choose. I have been trying to drop my family’s carbon footprint. And I have been wondering how to make my company greener.

But how do I know it is worth it?

I have sometimes felt like my efforts are a drop in the ocean. The same things that made my own behavior worse for the environment are going to do the same to many people.

In the upcoming decades more than a billion people will have more wealth, enough to wear cheap clothes, buy toys for their children, and trips abroad. And rightfully so, we are all entitled to comfort for us and our children! We cannot (and should not) deprive anybody of the dream of a financially better future).

The baseline is: people are going to consume. The best way to save the planet is to make sure that their consumption has a lower environmental impact. To make sure all consumption has a lower environmental impact.

We must influence where the money is spent

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a former colleague. He told me about FairForce. After the pitch, I knew this was something I believed in. And something I could help with. He invited me to join as an Ambassador to help companies that want to be greener or become green. To ensure an increase in green choices. To give every consumer the opportunity to choose a sustainable, more environmentally friendly option.

In addition, Fairforce is, as its name implies, fair. It is fair to nature, fair to people, fair to green organizations, fair to investors and fair to professionals who help the company succeed.

I was brought up with one concept about responsibility: when you become aware of a problem you become responsible for doing something about it. You are responsible for taking the first step toward the better. And even for those of us who understand the big challenge we are facing with sustainability, the right choices are not always easy to make.

That is another reason why I am happy to be part of FairForce. It is a network of competent professional people from different fields, bringing their knowledge and passion to solve something no one could do by themselves: a sustainable future for our children, our children’s children.

What will remain the same? My passion to build companies towards a healthier corporate culture. From now on, healthier will also mean greener. Do you share my passion?