By Anna, Finland
The past years have been overshadowed by worsening environmental problems and climate change. As these problems have become more evident and severe, a lot of people are now overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. While it is true that solving the climate crisis requires determined and radical action from governments and policy makers around the world, it is equally true that over 70% of carbon emission originates from everyday household activities. Keeping in mind that we, Europeans, have one of the highest carbon footprints per capita, what and how much we consume in our everyday lives is not negligible. A lot of this consumption is unnecessary and useless. Even the most conservative calculations show that people could save around € 3,000 per household every year by cutting back on goods such as alcohol, cigarettes and junk food, and by making environmentally-friendly choices such as reducing private car mobility and air travel.
Hence, my fellow researchers and I wanted to tackle the commonly held misconceptions that citizen-consumers’ choices do not have any impact and role in stopping climate change, and that climate action is expensive and requires very advanced technology. In fact, stopping climate change would only cost € 3 per person per day, if we were to start investing immediately. This amount is based on the Stern report of how much needs to be invested in climate change mitigation measures, such as renewable energy, to stop climate change at 2°C. The €3 is calculated according to GDP, accounting for Europeans’ share in the effort. Nevertheless, making environmentally conscious decisions at all times may sometimes feel exhausting and discouraging.
Doing something for the environment should be just as easy, fast, fun and convenient, as shopping is today. Therefore we came up with the idea of Useless, which aims to encourage and empower citizens for anti-consumption through a mobile application. Save your money, and save the environment! Furthermore, when the saved money is invested in sustainable projects, such as renewable energy or regenerative food production, citizens can make a double impact on the climate: by avoiding CO2 emission from deterred consumption, and by decreasing CO2 emission through making sustainable investments. Thus, Useless combines micro-saving with impact-investing. While waiting for the application to come on the market, don’t be useless, just use less! 🙂