In the north-east of Rome there is an old country side building where more then 20 years ago a bunch of willing and motivated people decided to take up an abandoned area to develop an entire microcosm of activities.
The idea that the world can be more sustainable is lived in a demonstrative way in Rome’s Citta dell’Utopia. Its users believe in a shared, communal philosophy and give physical space to many other local cultural and social associations. Members contribute to meeting a demand that they see unfilled in the city – Italian language courses are taught by volunteers, physical fitness and sports activities as well as social programs for psychological support are offered.
Oktoberdruck is an example of a small printing company in Berlin which bridges the gap between the grass-root movement and business. Oktoberdruck was founded in 1973 by three students as a self-governing printing company. It is based on three fundamental ideas: Environmental compatibility, fair working conditions with a collective organization and product quality. The initiative is working towards a steady reduction of electricity, water and the use of chemicals and ecologically harmful substances and CO2 emissions.
The Repair Cafés are places where gatherings are held (usually) once a month that bring together people with a broken item and people with experience repairing things. People can have their products repaired for free with the help of experts working voluntarily. By taking your broken item to this meeting you can also learn how to repair and better maintain your product. The Repair Café has the tools required and you can have a coffee or tea in the meantime. You can go without anything to repair, just to watch and learn and be inspired.
Founded in 2010, Leila introduces the practical implementation of a concept which had only been known theoretically before under the terms ‘commons’ or ‘shareconomy’: Why should we buy things for our own, if we can borrow and share them with others? The idea and invention came out of a free store of the Technical University in Berlin. The founders wondered how to contribute to a dematerialized society and to decrease the amount of useless things we possess. The result was Leila, a ‘borrowing shop’, being located today in Berlin’s district Prenzlauer Berg.
The beginnings of the initiative can be found in two German cities, Cologne and Berlin, in 2012. In Cologne the online-platform foodsharing.de was invented to allow private individuals to share still edible food which would otherwise be thrown away because they bought too much or because they are going on vacation. At the same time in Berlin, a similar initiative “lebensmittelretten” was founded by Raphael Fellmer, a motivated “dumpster diver”, who lives on food that would be thrown away by supermarkets. Several companies were contacted and asked to collaborate.
Pietarsaari is a small city located at the shore of the Ostrobothnian Gulf. The local waste company Ekorosk Oy wanted to create a new fun way to teach the local children about recycling and its importance. At the same time there was a problem with too much aluminum among the mixed waste. That is when one of the company’s workers came up with the idea of organizing a competition for the local elementary schools, where the aim would be to collect as many empty tealight cups as possible during a two-month period.
In the southern-most part of Finland, in a small village called Bromarf an ecovillage project was launched in 2000 and a plot size of 2.5 hectares was purchased. The Martha Association was one of the main funders of the project (together with local private sponsors), which aimed at providing altogether 20 residences mainly for elderly people and young adults. The following goals paved the way: new vitality to the village, enhancement of current building culture and of ecology, fresh entrepreneurship, energy economy, healthy building and increasing recycling awareness.
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Recycling Centre is an example of a community-based initiative that has succeeded in growing from a small grass-root activity to a big and influential actor in the recycling and re-using business in Finland. In 2014, they recirculated over 3 million items in their five shops. Through their actions they are helping people recycle the things they do not need anymore and offering a sustainable and affordable way of purchasing furniture, clothes and bicycles, amongst many other goods.
JAPA ry is a non-profit, politically independent association that was founded in 2001 in Jyväskylä, Finland. The association’s title JAPA comes from the Finnish words meaning “The Local Agenda of the citizens of Jyväskylä”. Their main aim is to contribute to sustainability in various ways based on the local peoples’ everyday needs. Their activities include planning and implementation of various sustainable development-related projects and events. The association was founded by the many residents’ associations of the Jyväskylä area.