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Eco-Friendly Behavior In This Finnish Town Gets You Free Cake

One Finnish town is literally helping green-minded citizens eat cake as they reward eco-friendly behavior with various rewards: including free public transport tickets, swims, and yes, cake.

A little north of Helsinki, the city of Lahti has developed an app tracking the carbon emissions of local residents based on whether they get around by car, public transport, bicycle, or on foot.

Residents who volunteer their information in the CitiCAP app get a carbon quota for the week.

If they have some of their allowance leftover, they get ‘virtual euros’ to spend on things like bus tickets, bike lights, access to public pools, or coffee and cake at a local cafe.

In a city of 120,000, so far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app.

The project’s research manager, Ville Uusitalo, told Euronews, “You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low, but this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

Currently, about 44% of trips in Lahti are considered sustainable. The city, which is the EU’s 2021 Green Capital, plans to lessen its environmental impact even more over the next decade, so that by 2025 the city is carbon neutral. By 2030, the aim is that at least half of the journeys taken are done so by sustainable means rather than by car.

Changing Perspectives
City council worker Mirkka Ruohonen, told AFP that the app has helped changed her perspective in the seven months she’s been using it.

“I went for a hiking weekend and we did 15km of hiking, but I had to travel 100km by car,” she said. “After that I checked the app and I was like, ‘Was that a good thing?’ Maybe for me but not for the environment!”

CitiCAP’s developers are planning to create similar tools in the future that will help people with their consumption-related carbon emissions.

After all, as Uusitalo explained to Euronews, “Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint.”