ANTTILANMÄKI: COMMUNAL CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Anttilanmäki is a village within a city where people live sustainably and make environmentally friendly choices together.
Anttilanmäki is the oldest part of Lahti city centre. Its astonishing old wooden houses are protected by a conservation plan. About 400 households live in Anttilanmäki, and the village has an active resident’s association that pushes forward sustainable solutions. For example, there is a rental scheme for people to borrow furniture, tools and items free of charge.
“You don’t have to own everything. The resident’s rental scheme helps you out if you happen to need more chairs for your garden party or if you want to borrow a lawn mower”, says Vice President of the resident’s association Maria Hyvönen.
“Many of us also lend and borrow from our neighbours. People get quite creative – I heard some neighbours had exchanged a power drill for some help with sewing”, Maria continues.
Improving circular economy within the village
The resident’s association used to rent items through Facebook and WhatsApp, but has since received expert help to refine the scheme. The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has helped them create a plan for the coming years on how to take the rental scheme to a new level. Whenever its volunteers have spare time offer, the association puts this plan into action.
Innovations have also been created together with the LAB University of Applied Sciences. LAB performed a survey to find out what circular economy improvements locals were interested in. The rental scheme, vegetarian food and energy efficiency stood out from the survey’s results.
“Many people around here would like to gain new culinary skills on how to cook vegetarian food, and with LAB’s experts we have been innovating a new system. With a local business we could make ready-packed grocery bags complete with recipes. The bags could then be delivered straight to our residents”, says President of the resident’s association Silja Kostia.
Many things have already changed for better thanks to the village’s residents. About a year ago the locals got fed up with how inefficient the waste recycling of the area was. Bin wagons were seen driving around almost daily, so the resident’s association stepped in and changed things around.
“Previously we had four different firms handling waste management. Bin lorries would drive around here almost every day. Now we have just one firm emptying our municipal waste. Neighbours can also get shared recycling bins, which is great for circular economy”, says Silja.
Village parties and plant preservation
The village is loved by many. Anttilanmäki has won regional awards, such as Village of the Year 2020 for the Lahti region, and it has been voted the most beautiful part of Lahti city. People in the village have taken action for the local environment for many years.
“Positive change starts from everyday things. Here neighbours have always shared compost and gardening tools. We also have a small flower meadow that helps us preserve the native plant species that have always grown here”, Maria says.
Preserving native plant species is good for the biodiversity of the area. About 50 species of plants are preserved and grown in the flower field. People can take cuttings from the flowers and plant them in their own gardens – just as long as there are plants still left behind in the field.
People of Anttilanmäki organised their first village party in 2019 and over 3000 people showed up. Now people want to make it an annual tradition. Last year the party had to be held in a picnic style because of the global pandemic. This year the resident’s association wishes to organise a big party in August as part of the celebrations for the European Green Capital.
The Anttilanmäki “spirit of volunteering”
Circular economy projects in Anttilanmäki are run by volunteers and their open and willing attitudes – this creates the spirit of volunteering. To support the positive energy, all the things organised in the community are always optional what comes to participation.
“We want volunteering to be fun, and that is why no one is obligated to join. With everything we do in our community we encourage to take part in the things that are meaningful to you”, says Silja.