Teleworking vs environmental sustainability

Telecommunication is a term that appeared already in 1972 and was used by Jack Nilles, a NASA engineer who was at the time working remotely on a sophisticated communication system. Nilles thought that this novel approach to work would help to address issues like traffic, sprawl, and the scarcity of non-renewable resources [1]. Was he right? Is remote working a sustainable solution?

For many companies, the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic sped up the transition to full-time remote employment [2]. Thus, it created an opportunity to check and see how remote work influences the natural environment. Teleworking is mostly considered in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, and it has the instinctive feeling that it must be good for the environment.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Reduced need for commuting to and from the offices while working remotely is correlated with a reduced number of cars on the road and, what is more, reduced greenhouse gas emission from car fumes. However, looking closer, one can see that nothing is so straightforward [3]. There is growing evidence of rebound effects due to different scenarios like:

  1. increased number of short trips and non-work travel -it was clearly visible in California that there was a 26% rise in the average number of trips that were made in conjunction with a drop in car miles travelled by workers who switched to working from home during the Covid-19 epidemic [4];
  2. moving further from the city – more businesses are switching to a hybrid work style, which gives employees the option of working both in the office and from home during the workweek. The total environmental effect of commuting to work can be reduced by about 30% by using hybrid work. Additionally, a weekly remote workday can reduce CO2 emissions by 271 kg per year. However, very often, on the way to the office, different stops are made, like dropping kids to school and doing some shopping. Even though employees are allowed to work from home, these trips still need to be done. Going further, hybrid work may additionally induce some employees to relocate farther from the city. Employees can choose to relocate to cheaper, quieter and greener suburbs. Thus, lengthening the commute road to work can even increase greenhouse gas emissions, despite a decrease in the frequency of commutes for work [5].

Energy Consumption

To create the ideal working environment at home, remote workers must use heating, air conditioning, internet, lighting, and kitchen equipment. Then many questions appear like: is the home building energy efficient? Is it necessary to buy new furniture to satisfy employees’ needs? Things go worse if the hybrid model is applied. Then employees need to adjust conditions at their homes, and what is more, companies need to maintain proper conditions in offices. Offices are still heated and lit to the same degree as before, even if only partially occupied. However, there are a few ways to lessen the impact that hybrid work has on an organization’s carbon footprint:

  • reducing the size of workspaces may save up to 40% on office energy costs when regular remote work is applied [5];
  • hot desking can significantly reduce overall workplace emissions, which is usually significant; for instance, France uses roughly 168 kWh of energy per square meter per year, which is equivalent to 16 kilograms of CO2 per square meter annually [5].

Remote work is strongly related to working in virtual teams and what goes behind that, with videoconferences and data sharing. A single hour of videoconferencing or streaming uses up to 2-12 L of water, emits 150–1,000 g of carbon dioxide, and takes up space on the ground that is roughly the size of an iPad Mini. These footprints can be reduced by 96% by turning off the camera while on a web call. Another way to cut costs is to stream information in standard definition rather than high definition, it can reduce energy consumption by up to 86% [6].

Reduction in energy consumption may also be achieved by increasing the efficiency of working in virtual teams. To make the work in a virtual team easier and more efficient, it is important to understand how to lead the team properly and understand the stages of team development. One of the TOO4TO project’s outputs provides a guide, “Leading virtual teams”, which is rich in theory as well as tools that can be used to make the work easier and more efficient. What is more, it contains real examples of situations that may appear when the virtual team is built. The guide is free of charge and available on the TOO4TO project website in the tab “Outputs” or directly under this link:

According to the information presented above, it appears that remote work can be beneficial for the environment; however, very often, it is dependent on the daily decisions of each person working remotely. Moreover, it is crucial to remember that remote labour only plays a minor role in the larger effort to combat climate change, achieve sustainability, and improve the environment in which people live. Additionally, one should notice that here only environmental sustainability aspects of teleworking were considered. However, in order to see a holistic view of sustainability aspects related to this type of work, different dimensions should be discussed as well, like psychological-behavioural or financial aspects. A study conducted in Italy showed that, due to the additional costs associated with using digital platforms and technology (such as a personal computer, an internet connection, a license for an instant messaging service, and cloud storage space), remote working has a significant and negative economic-financial impact for the majority of workers (55% of the sample) which are not compensated with commute savings [7]. Thus, the opportunities and challenges associated with each dimension of teleworking are very complex and still require further research.

Written by Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Gdańsk University of Technology


[1] Lorman, The history of telecommuting and How to Best Manage Remote Teams in 2020, (Accessed on: 24.04.2023)

[2] Yang, L., Holtz, D., Jaffe, S. et al. The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers. Nat Hum Behav 6, 43–54 (2022).

[3] Turlough F. Guerin, Policies to minimise environmental and rebound effects from telework: A study for Australia, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 39, 18-33 (2021).

[4] Shreedhar G., Laffan K., Giurge L.M. Is remote work actually better for the environment? Harvard Business Review, (Accessed online on: 22.05.2023)

[5] Hubtubee. The impact of hybrid working on a company’s carbon footprint. (Accessed online on: 23.05.2023)

[6] Purdue University. Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says: Simple tips to go green with your internet use during a pandemic. (Accessed online on: 23.05.2023)

[7] Battisti E., Alfiero S., Leonidou E. Remote working and digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic: Economic–financial impacts and psychological drivers for employees. Journal of Business Research 150, 38-50 (2022).

Challenges of Recycling Solar Panels and Windmill Blades

With the world’s growing concern about climate change and the need to shift towards renewable energy sources, solar panels, and windmills have become increasingly popular for generating electricity (World Economic Forum, 2022). These technologies offer great promise in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change. However, as with any technology, there are challenges to be addressed. One significant challenge is recycling solar panels and windmill blades, which present unique and complex issues that must be tackled to minimize their environmental impact (e.g., Wheeler, 2021; Korniejenko et al., 2021).

Solar panels, made from materials like silicon, glass, and metal, have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years (e.g., Hurdle, 2023, Sharma and Powell, 2022). While incredibly durable and reliable for producing electricity, they also have a finite lifespan and will eventually need to be replaced. Similarly, windmill blades, typically made from fiberglass or carbon fiber composites, have a lifespan of around 20 to 25 years (Jacoby, 2022). When these solar panels (see figure below) and windmill blades reach the end of their life cycle, they pose challenges for recycling due to their construction, composition, and size.

Estimated cumulative global waste volume (million t) of end-of-life PV panels. Weckend (IRENA), Wade and Heath (IEA-PVPS), 2016

One of the main challenges in recycling solar panels is the complexity of their composition. Solar panels consist of multiple layers of different materials, including glass, plastic, metal, and silicon cells, which are all bonded together. These layers must be separated to extract valuable recycling materials, which can be time-consuming and energy-intensive. Additionally, some materials used in solar panels, such as thin films of cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium selenide, are considered hazardous and require proper handling and disposal to avoid environmental contamination. (Sica et al., 2018)

Another challenge is the size and weight of solar panels and windmill blades. Solar panels can be large and heavy, making transportation and handling for recycling purposes challenging. Windmill blades, on the other hand, can reach lengths of up to 75 meters and weigh several tons, making their disposal or recycling even more complex and costly (Cherrington et al., 2012). Finding appropriate facilities capable of handling such large and heavy items is a significant challenge, especially in remote areas where renewable energy projects are often located.

Piles of wind turbine blades at a waste management facility in Missouri. Sam Paakkonen

he recycling of windmill blades, in particular, presents additional challenges. Windmill blades are typically made from fiberglass or carbon fiber composites, which are lightweight and durable but challenging to recycle. These materials are difficult to break down and separate, and current recycling technologies must be improved in their ability to process them effectively. As a result, windmill blades often end up in landfills or are incinerated, contributing to the accumulation of waste and emissions. (Mishnaevsky, 2021)

Furthermore, the rapid growth of the renewable energy industry has led to increased decommissioned solar panels and windmill blades. This has created a potential waste management problem, as many of these end-of-life panels and blades are not being appropriately recycled or are not being recycled at all (Seo et al., 2021). Improper disposal can lead to environmental pollution, habitat destruction, and health risks for local communities.

Addressing these challenges requires innovation and collaboration among various stakeholders, including governments, industry, researchers, and waste management facilities. Here are some potential solutions to tackle the challenges related to the recycling of solar panels and windmill blades:

  • Research and development: Continued research and development in recycling technologies specifically tailored for solar panels and windmill blades could lead to more effective and efficient recycling processes. This may include advancements in material separation techniques, such as using solvents or heat to separate different layers of solar panels (Chowdhury et al., 2020) or developing new methods to break down and recycle composite materials from windmill blades.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Implementing EPR policies, where manufacturers are responsible for the end-of-life management of their products, could incentivize the development of more recyclable solar panels and windmill blades.

Written by Nicolas Le Grand, Turku University of Applied Sciences


Cherrington R., Goodship V., Meredith J., Wood B.M., Coles S. R., Vuillaume A., Feito-Boirac A., Spee F., Kirwan K., 2012, Another challenge is the size and weight of solar panels and windmill blades. Solar panels can be large and heavy, making transportation and handling for recycling purposes challenging. Energy Policy, Volume 47. 

Chowdhury Shahariar, Rahman Sajedur Kazi, Chowdury Tanjia, Nuthammachot Narissara, Techato Kuaanan, Akhtaruzzaman MD., Tiong Kiong Sieh, Sopian Kamaruzzaman, Amin Nowshad, An overview of solar photovoltaic panels’ end-of-life material recycling, Energy Strategy Review, Volume 27.

Hurdle Jon, 2023, As Millions of Solar Panels Age Out, Recyclers Hope to Cash In, Published by Yale School of the Environment.

Jacoby Mitch, 2022, How can companies recycle wind turbine blades ?, Chemical and Engineering news, Volume 100, issue 27

Korniejenko Kinga, Kozub Barbara, Bak Agnieszka, Balamurugan Ponnanbalam, Uthayakumar Marimuthu, Furtos Gabriel, 2021, Tackling the Circular Economy Challenges—Composites Recycling: Used Tyres, Wind Turbine Blades, and Solar Panels, Journal of Composites Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 9.

Mishnaevsky Leon, 2021, Sustainable End-of-Life Management of Wind Turbine Blades: Overview of Current and Coming Solutions, Materials, Volume 14, Issue 5.

Seo Bora, Kim Youing Jae, Chung Jaeshik, 2021, Overview of global status and challenges for end-of-life crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels: A focus on environmental impacts, Waste Management, Volume 128

Sica Daniela, Malandrino Ornella, Supino Stefania, Testa Mario, Maria Claudia Lucchetti, 2018, Management of end-of-life photovoltaic panels as a step towards a circular economy, Renewable and Sustainanble Energy Reviews, Volume 82, Part 3.

Shawa and Powell, 2022, This is how solar panel recycling can be scaled up now, World Economic Forum.

Weckend Stephanie, Wade Andreas, Heath Garvin, 2016, End-of-life management; solar photovoltaic panels, IRENA and IEA-PVPS.

Wheeler Andrew, 2021, The Need to Examine the Life Cycles of All Energy Sources: A Closer Look at Renewable-Energy Disposal, No. 3653, Institute for economic freedom, the Heritage Foundation.

World Economic Forum, 2022, Wind and Solar generated 10% of global energy in 2021-a world first.

AI to combat hunger: a strategy to achieve SDG 2

United Nations (UN) define hunger as “an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by insufficient consumption of dietary energy” [1]. The UN reported that in 2021 as many as 828 million people were affected by hunger in the year 2021, which represents an increase of 46 million since 2020 and 150 million more since 2019 [2]. 

Physical effects of hunger include, but are not limited to [3]:

  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle and organ malfunction
  • Weight loss due to depletion of fat and muscle mass
  • Stunted growth 
  • Premature birth
  • Anxiety
  • Behaviour problems

The main causes of hunger in the world are lack of money, access to food difficulties and food production decline due to climate change. Extreme heat, drought and severe weather are some examples of climate change effects that affect crops growth worldwide and that could lead to a decline of about 30 percent of global yields. Climate and social inequity can lead to hunger; herewith, hunger can also cause conflicts because of the lack of availability of food or food insecurity, water and etc. For example, in Haiti, violence escalated through 2019, and by the beginning of 2021, after COVID-19 erupted, the percentage of Haitians without adequate food rose to 20% [4].  The World Food Program warned hunger is likely to increase in Haiti as the war in Ukraine caused the price of imported wheat to rise.

From these statistics, it could be inferred that Sustainable Development Goal 2 to achieve Zero hunger by 2030 could not be met.

Image Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

How can AI help to combat hunger?

From a global perspective, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already part of our reality. AI methods and tools such as machine learning, artificial neural networks and deep learning are affecting the way we produce and buy goods, the way we learn, the way we perceive reality, and the way we live. Researchers around the world are studying the effect of AI on every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), and although it is not a simple task to achieve in a short time, there are already insightful results that help us visualize the future of AI and Sustainability [5].

In 2015 a team of Machine Learning and Social Science Researchers in the US and Europe founded “AI for Good Foundation”, an international network driving forward technological solutions that measure and advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals [6]. AI for Good is committed to creating impact opportunities to combat hunger and achieve SDG 2 by supporting small-scale and local farming solutions that help empower local communities, improve food security, and reduce poverty. 

Image Source: AI for Good

Artificial Intelligence areas of intervention to fulfil SDG can cover food production, distribution, and consumption:

  • AI techniques can help identify weather patterns like floods and droughts: The Mexican start-up KYSO uses AI technology to automate irrigation systems capable of responding to changes in weather conditions by using metadata analysis of the temperature, humidity, and pH levels of soils [7].  
  • AI techniques can help to optimize food distribution strategies: in the United States, approximately 80 tons of food were lost during the year 2019. A San Francisco-based company, Replate, “collects surplus food from vendors and delivers it to non-profits in a strategic, data-driven format” [8]. This also avoids unnecessary transportation by first identifying the correct match between the food and the organisation that needs it.
  • AI techniques can enhance a better interaction with the ones in hunger: Capgemini Australia developed a platform that uses AI and Machine Learning (ML) to improve food distribution across schools: Yum-Yum. The platform can monitor need for food in real time and addresses all roles – from students to welfare officers- to ensure solutions for food distribution success.

AI is capable of helping achieve the Zero Hunger goal; at the same time, it promotes Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG12), reducing food waste and helping to close the loop in the production sector. With the latter two, SDGs – No Poverty and Good and Well-Being, respectively – are also influenced by the initiatives that were presented here, and we can therefore continue creating strategies to achieve a world with ZERO HUNGER.

Image Source: AI for Good

AI has a very high potential to accelerate the progress of the SDGs and help to reach them by 2030. However, many different challenges need to be taken into account in order to make this transformation more fluent, transparent and less harmful for small players in the agriculture sector and the countries which struggle with social responsibility issues or geopolitical conflicts.

Written by Alexandra Alonso Soto, Kaunas University of Technology









[8] [9]

The importance of national collaboration in the integration of sustainable development in the design of online education

The digitalisation of education was accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic (OECD, 2021). This increased the discussion on the design of quality online education and, for example, the use of pedagogical models instead of the of digital platforms (Adedoyin & Soykan, 2020). The need for integration of sustainable education into the design of digital education was identified already before the pandemic (see e.g. Wiek et al., 2016; Findler et al., 2019). In Finland, sustainable development should be integrated into all higher education degree programmes (Arene, 2021; Unifi, 2021).

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

The importance of collaboration in the integration of sustainable design (SD) in the design of digital education is highlighted in a recent study about the design of online degree programmes in higher education (Joshi, 2022). Online degree programmes refer to HE study programmes where education is interactive, guided and includes synchronous elements (Joshi et al., 2020).

The design of online degree programmes for national cross-studies

The design-based research (DBR) study examined the integration of SD into the holistic design of online degree programmes (ODP). The design context was national cross-studies offered on the national digital platform CampusOnline of universities of applied sciences (UAS) created in the ministry-funded eAMK project (eAMK, n.d.). The data subjects were the online degree working group who were involved in the development of ODPs for the national cross-studies as part of the project. The study comprised four phases: the first one prioritized the important features for national collaboration, the second one was a participatory design of ODP elements, and the third one was an interview that focused on the integration of SD in the design of ODPs. In the final phase, the results were compared to the combined sustainability competencies to make connections between ODP design and SD integration.

Results highlight the importance of collaboration

According to the results of Phase 1, the two most important factors for designing national ODPs are external collaboration and management support. In Phase 2, collaboration was added as an element to the feature tree. In Phase 3, most of the answers focused on cooperation and communication competencies, highlighting the importance of collaboration. The interview results revealed e.g., the importance of accessible online education, increased possibilities for SD learning opportunities through national collaboration, and future foresight in designing new ways to implement ODPs.

In Phase 4, the results highlighted the importance of collaboration, which supports earlier findings by Leal Filho et al. (2020), who suggest that partnerships are needed in successful SD initiatives. Strategic action and systemic approach were the second most common category in Phase 4, indicating the national-level strategic guidance of integrating SD into HE degrees and creating more accessible ODP and SD education through a systemic approach. The development of students’ SD competence and their well-being was seen as an important target for collaboration, and the development of curricula showed many opportunities for a systemic thinking approach. Aspects of digital environments or technologies, nor specific pedagogical approaches, related to SD integration were not revealed by the results.


National-level collaboration is important in the integration of SD into online higher education degrees. The key sustainability competency of cooperation and communication are central to the integration of SD in the holistic design of ODPs. Collaboration can enhance accessibility and multidisciplinary approach and support the national SD goals set in for the HE organizations. Also, national collaboration in the design of ODPs can develop students’ SD competencies through professional development. Students’ well-being can be supported by creating access to online communities and developing curricula in national collaboration. Following future foresight signals and developing new initiatives through national collaboration is important. Overall, a holistic approach to SD integration into ODPs seems suitable.

Educators and managers should consider the possibilities that national collaboration can bring in the integration of SD into the design of online education. It is important that online education can be seen as a platform for providing students access to communities and competencies that can further aid the national SD goals in higher education and the wider society.

Written by Marjo Joshi


Adedoyin, O. & Soykan, E. (2020). Covid-19 pandemic and online learning: the challenges and opportunities, Interactive Learning Environments,

The Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences Arene. (2020). Sustainable, responsible and carbon-neutral universities of applied sciences – Programme for the sustainable development and responsibility of universities of applied sciences.

eAMK. (n.d., a) eAMK Basic Facts.

Findler, F., Schönherr, N., Lozano, R., Reider, D., & Martinuzzi, A. (2019). The impacts of higher education institutions on sustainable development: A review and conceptualization. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 20(1), 23–38.

Joshi, M. (2022). Sustainable development in the design of online degree programmes for national cross-studies. Ammattikasvatuksen Aikakauskirja, 23(4), 12–33.

Joshi, M., Könni, P., Mäenpää, K., Mäkinen, L., Pilli-Sihvola, M., Rautiainen, T., Timonen, P., & Valkki, O. (2020). Verkkotutkinnot. Turku University of Applied Sciences Reports 269. Turun ammattikorkeakoulu.

Leal Filho, W., Eustachio, J. H. P. P., Caldana, A. C. F., Will, M., Lange Salvia, A., Rampasso, I. S., Anholon, R., & Kovaleva, M. (2020). Sustainability leadership in higher education institutions: An overview of challenges. Sustainability, 12(9), 3761.

OECD (2021), The state of higher education: One year in to the COVID-19 pandemic, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Universities Finland UNIFI. (2020). Theses on sustainable development and responsibility.

Wiek, A., Bernstein, M., Foley, R., Cohen, M., Forrest, N., Kuzdas, C., Kay, B., & Withycombe Keeler, L. (2016). Operationalising competencies in higher education for sustainable development. In M. Barth, G. Michelsen, M. Rieckmann, & I. Thomas (Eds.), Handbook of higher education for sustainable development (pp. 241–260). Routledge.

Digital Transformation for Sustainable Future

“Using our know-how today to make tomorrow’s world a better place is at the heart of what we do. Product by product, service by service, line by line of code, we’re decoding tomorrow.” – Stefan Hartung (Chairman of the Board of Management, Bosch)

The world has never witnessed an age where the demand for energy production showed a negative trend. This ever-increasing need for energy directly conflicts with the need to combat climate change. It’s a problem that the governments, industries, NGOs, academia and the general public have been debating for years. To solve these crucial sustainability-related challenges, there are a growing number of new devices. While digital transformation continues to be a trend that provides many such devices, we are also at an age where the transformation extends further. In the process of digital transformation, businesses have realized that sustainability has to be a core part of digital transformation. With the proliferation of AI, it is just a matter of time when Digital Transformation becomes only a small cog in the larger machinery of AI. We may need to wait to see how AI evolves, but for now, we focus on software approaches to digital technologies helping in tackling the energy demand.

In this blog, we attempt to highlight a) the software approach taken in various industries and how cooperation between companies and regulators can help, and b) some of the tools that could be of help to sustainability enthusiasts that could solve not just some aspects of energy consumption but also other areas of sustainability.

Software approach

One direct way of visualizing how digital technology addresses energy demand is by leveraging data and software that makes energy usage more efficient. This utilizes the underlying data and allows companies to reinvent their processes in a way that is more energy efficient. Here are some highlights of how digital transformation resulted in and can further result in energy efficiency across sectors as per the research report by the International Energy Agency (Digitalization and Energy, 2017):

  • The oil and gas companies, which are the core energy sectors, deployed digital technologies starting much earlier from the point of view of automation, safety and efficiency. Some with the objective of energy efficiency also. This has resulted in companies reducing energy and water consumption in their businesses (e.g. hydration control in the precast industry).

Exploration and production, which are the most profitable parts of the oil and gas sector, is where digital technologies tend to have a larger impact. The underlying software analyses and processes extremely large datasets that helps remote operations maximize oil and gas recovery. In future, usage of such data could also be extended to reduce delays in operations.

The sector lends itself to challenges while implementing digital technologies. The approach had always been risk-averse and delayed adopting digital technologies. The capital-intensive nature of the industry could have contributed to the risk aversion. The industry is yet to find management approaches that can enable faster adoption of digital technologies.

  • The transport sector, which accounts for 28% of the global demand for energy, by implementing automated, connected, electric and shared (ACES) shapes the future energy consumption pattern of the overall transport sector. The flip side is, the increased energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption brought by automation increases activity levels, which offsets all the gains.

From the future point of view, there are some barriers and risks the government and regulators need to address. Initiatives such as the European union’s cooperation with member states, automakers, telecom companies to permit cross-border travel of automated vehicles will ensure interoperability. In road freight, the government can promote the reporting of aggregated information by sharing the data of assets and services across the supply chain, which will improve freight logistics.

  • In buildings, smart energy management systems can reduce overall energy use, by consuming energy only when required, by implementing digital solutions. Such solutions can predict user behaviour and can auto program heating and cooling systems, reduce peak loads, shed loads, store energy on a real-time basis. Measuring and monitoring real-time energy performance allows the prediction and identification of maintenance requirements. Homes have become smarter by connecting household items to devices that save energy.

While the potentials and opportunities are immense, there are also obstacles in the path to realising the benefits of digital transformation in buildings. Much needed is the cooperation between the policymakers and companies to allow interoperability across technologies, which is to enable sharing of information through open source and compatible software. Innovative tariffs can be devised that could motivate end users to adopt digital technologies. Combined effort by the government and private to communicate the benefits of digitalization in comfort and cost savings.

  • In the power sector, given the increasing role of renewable energy, the deployment of digital technologies will increase the share of various renewables. The potential benefits of digitalization is by exploiting data that is already being collected through various sensors. Such digital data analytics can reduce power system costs by reducing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, improving plant network efficiency, reducing downtime & outages and increasing asset operational lifetime.

While barriers are fewer in the power sector, it still needs closer attention. The regulated markets provide financial incentives, but only for the investment in physical assets. Investment in digital technologies is not incentivized. The sector representatives working closer with the regulators will help remove such barriers.

  • The information and communication technologies (ICT) sector has emerged as one of the largest consumers of energy. This comprises data centers, data networks and connected devices. Data centers and data networks account for 2% (as of 2014) of global energy demand. With more than 20 billion devices connected through the Internet of Things (IoT) and another 6 billion smartphones connected online, the energy consumption of devices is underestimated. Similar to the transport sector, energy efficiency is offset by increasing levels of activity and adding more devices to the sector. Interesting enough, the solutions to the energy demands in the ICT industry are not software-driven but policy-driven.

From the futuristic point of view, government policies can play a role in, a) regulations to ensure more efficient devices, b) incentives for more efficient and sustainable manufacturing practices, data center operations, data transfer networks, and c) improved central data systems.

Similar examples of digital solutions driven through software approaches can be outlined for many other sectors. However, the above examples give us an indication of the extent of what is possible through a software approach and what more can be done with continuing cooperation between the government and the private.

Taking a cue from Digital Transformation Network’s report, some measures to achieve the ambitious goals could be closing the software job gaps and modernizing government IT and digitizing public services in order to have an extended impact on energy consumption.

  • Close the software jobs gap. More software professionals are trained to design and run transformative software-enabled tools, such as a) power the energy grids, b) data analytics in the power sector, c) ACES in the transportation sector and so on. Specific suggestions such as upgrading the outdated (electric) grids would have direct benefits for the power sector. However, integrating aspects of transformation through a software approach across industries is what is of interest to this article. Hence, closing the gap in software jobs between professionals trained to design and run transformative software-enabled tools, plays a key role.
  • Modernize government IT and digitize public services. One of the consistent barriers that we noticed across all sectors while analysing the approach to better uptake of digital solutions is the need for regulatory reforms. Such reforms need central data systems with the Government and cross-border cooperation. This is where governments need modernizing. The need for the IT backbone and digitalized public services is essential for fast and informed decision-making. What is already implemented in the private sector is not widely adapted and implemented by government enterprises. Such implementation needs to be accelerated.

Other sustainability tools for the economy, energy, environment

As a closing thought, we refer to some specific tools compiled by the United States Environment Protection Agency, which could be of use while implementing digital solutions to tackle energy demands. This agency has listed more than 60 tools and resources to help various stakeholders, which are grouped into 10 different categories. The various groups are, i) Sustainable Manufacturing, ii) Lifecycle Assessment, iii) Energy Efficiency, iv) Carbon Footprint, v) Materials Management, vi) Community Development, vii) Worker Safety, viii) Workforce Development, ix) Manufacturing Industry and x) Funding & other tools.

With the ever-increasing emphasis on sustainability, the voices are growing louder to fast-track solutions that can minimize the negative impacts. Digital solutions with a software approach may not have been the most intuitive way to combat the crisis of climate, but we can witness from the use cases that many inroads have been made. Also, we could see the potential for improvement, furthermore. The impact will be visible when the government, companies and the general public also integrate seamlessly with the digital transformation.

Written by G.Vanna Vadivan, Global Impact Grid


Digital Transformation Network, “Digital Tools for a Sustainable Future”,

O’Hanlon, Paul & Delaplace, Arnaud (2022), “Digital tools to build a sustainable future”,

European Commission (2022), “Digital Services Act”,

Emma, Woollacott (2021), “How to make your digital transformation sustainable”,

Nettesheim, Kajja (2019), “Digital business transformation”,

United States Environment Protection Agency, “E3 Sustainability Tools”,

International Energy Agency (2017), “Digitalization and Energy”,

European Commission,

Electric vehicles – the saviour of the planet?

Climate change is a global concern; hence it affects all countries and regions, however, with different magnitudes and rates [1]. The biggest driving force influencing climate change is fossil fuels, which include coal, oil and gas, contributing more than 75% of all greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions, including almost 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions [2]. The transport sector, especially road transport, accounts for around a quarter of global energy use and related GHGs. To keep the long-term increase in the global mean temperature below 2°C, it has been suggested that reductions in global GHGs emissions of 50% to 85% from levels noted in 2000 must be made by 2050 [3].

However, how to achieve this result since it is estimated that by 2050 the number of cars will double?

High potential in GHGs emission reduction is associated with electric vehicles (EVs). New gasoline and diesel vehicle sales were prohibited beginning in 2040, according to announcements made in the summer of 2017 by the UK and France. This restriction has already been advanced until 2030 by the UK. Therefore, it is already possible that internal combustion engines will no longer be used for personal transportation. This summer, Volvo, a Chinese-owned automaker, announced starting in 2019, all of its vehicles will be either electric or petrol hybrid driven. By 2025, Volvo’s Chinese owners, Geely, hope to sell one million EVs [4]. It would be a huge success, considering that in 2021 Volvo sold 698 700 cars, of which 56 883 were electric cars (both plug-in and fully electric) [5].

EV is not a new invention. The technology has been developing for a long time; the first attempt to create an EV was made in 1832 by Robert Anderson [6]. The biggest advantage of modern EVs is energy efficiency; 75-95% of the available energy is converted into motion. While internal combustion cars can only put up to 30% of the energy contained in its fuel into motion, the rest is lost in heat and friction [4].

EVs are considered cars that produce no pollutants and no hazardous gases. Is that fully true?

The manufacturing process of EVs releases a similar amount of CO2 as the production of internal combustion cars, but only when battery manufacturing is excluded from the calculations. Production of batteries requires large quantities of rare metals lithium, cobalt and nickel [4]. Their mining is labour-intensive and necessitates chemical input and large quantities of water, frequently from water-scarce regions. What is more, it can produce toxic waste and impurities [7]. Additionally, the cost and the difficulty of recycling processes causes that lithium-ion battery recycling is still very low, at less than 5%, the rest ends in landfills [8]. Regulations are predicted to play a significant part in this process since recycling play a crucial role in the future of the industry because it helps to increase sustainability and lessen resource scarcity.

Engineers and scientists are trying to find different solutions for gathering energy, like sand batteries, which seem to be a promising technology. Sand, when heated to 600℃, can become a battery and, with the application of thick insulation, can keep the temperature inside even when it is freezing outside. Not only does sand have a much lower environmental impact than lithium, but it also does not involve any chemical reactions and does not degrade like lithium-ion batteries. The drawback of this technology is that sand batteries can store 5 to 10 times less energy than chemical batteries. However, the generation of 8 MWh of heat energy by sand battery costs $200 000 while the generation of the same amount of energy by lithium-ion battery costs $1 600 000. The main question is whether it is possible to scale up this technology to produce a considerable amount of electricity in addition to heat [9].    

Indirect pollution is related to the type of electricity grid used to charge batteries. A gas-fired power plant emits 350–400 grams of CO2 per kWh, but a coal-fired power station releases ~650 grams of CO2 per kWh. When considering the emissions produced during the manufacturing process of renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines, the emissions produced per kWh are approximately 36g CO2 [7]. Research demonstrates that even after accounting for these electricity-related emissions, an EV often emits fewer GHGs than the typical new gasoline vehicle. However, the overall GHGs associated with EVs might be significantly lower if more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are employed to produce electricity [10].

Another important aspect is related to the pollution emitted from tires. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, tires are one of the main sources of microplastic pollution in oceans [11]. Because of the use of battery power, electric cars are much heavier than combustion engine cars and, together with the instant acceleration and, therefore, instant torque, because more stress is put on the tyres. Engineers are trying to capture the pollution from tires into the boxes placed above the tire, which on the way of electrostatic forces, could collect shed tire particles. However, until now, it is at the prototype stage [11]. Moreover, manufacturers of tires are trying to improve tire quality to increase their longevity and reduce the amount of noise and pollution emissions.

Personal transport is one thing, but a reliable freight transportation infrastructure that can move goods effectively, safely, and sustainably is an essential component of a sustainable society. Diesel trucks have only a 4% share of the total road transport. However, they are responsible for almost half of the transportation sector’s smog-forming pollution and a quarter of all climate emissions [12]. There are some attempts made to change internal combustion heavy trucks into electrical ones. Volvo started series production of electrified truck Volvo FM, FMX, and FH series, that could operate at a combined weight of 44 metric tons [13]. Nevertheless, it should be noticed that the kilometres range of an electric truck is equal to 380 km, then it needs to be charged, while an internal combustion truck can be driven over 2000 km using only one tank of 630 L. Although EVs seem to be the right step towards sustainability and GHGs reduction, challenges still remain.

Written by Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Gdańsk University of Technology


  1.  EPA. International Climate Impacts. Accessed November 26, 2022.
  2. United Nations Climate Action. Causes and Effects of Climate Change. Accessed November 26, 2022.
  3. H. Ma, F. Balthasar, N. Tait, X. Riera-Palou, A. Harrison, Energy Policy, 44 (2012), 160-173,
  4. YPTE. Electric cars. Accessed December 5, 2022.
  5. Volvo cars. Press Releases: Volvo Cars reports sales of 44,664 cars in July. Accessed December 29, 2022,
  6. Timeline: History of the electric car. Accessed November 28, 2022.
  7. Climate Portal. How much CO2 is emitted by manufacturing batteries? Published July 15, 2022.
  8. AZO Materials. Worldwide Regulations on lithium-ion battery recycling. Published January 24, 2022.
  9. BBC. How a sand battery could transform clean energy. Accessed December 29, 2022.
  10. EPA. Electric Vehicles Myths. Published October 18, 2022.
  11. The Japan Times. When driving, tires emit pollution. And EVs make the problem worse. Published September 4, 2022.
  12. GreenBiz. A new way o track truck pollution. Published October 5, 2022.
  13. CNBC. Volvo starts series production of heavy-duty electric trucks, targets 50% of sales by 2030. Published September 14, 2022.

Twin Transition: Coupling Green and Digital Transitions

Digital and green transitions have been on Europe’s top agenda as solutions for the biggest challenges the world is experiencing today, ranging from climate change to food security. While these two processes are distinct and require unique actions and steps to their end, they can also reinforce each other in fulfilling the EU Green Deal and global sustainable development goals.

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Twin transition refers to the interplay between digital and green transitions: If properly used and managed, digital technologies can help economies become (more) resource efficient, circular and climate neutral. Similarly, green transition in energy and industry sectors can help meet the growing energy needs and reduce the environmental footprint of the digital sector.

For twin transitions to be successful and inclusive, understanding the synergies between digital and green transitions, and implementing proactive and inclusive policies and management mechanisms are needed. Promotion of twin transitions, therefore, requires engagement of players from all sectors: Thanks to its economic share, the private sector will have a big role in implementing twin transitions. However, to boost the benefits and minimize the negative side-effects in digitalization and greening processes as much as possible, engagement of the public and civil society sectors will also be needed.

Indeed, the JRC report on ‘Towards a green & digital future’, published earlier this year emphasizes the importance of  “successfully managing the green and digital ‘twin’ transitions” for “delivering a sustainable, fair, and competitive future”. The comprehensive study analyzes the green and digital technologies in the context of twin transitions and shows how they can reinforce each other. This is done in reference to five industries (namely: agriculture, building and construction, transport and mobility, energy, and energy-intensive industries) and by giving concrete case study examples.

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For instance, in the agriculture industry, “with environmental monitoring and tracking, digital tools can help gather knowledge of areas such as biodiversity deficits and prioritize actions to preserve it” (p. 25). In the energy industry, for example, “Simulation and forecasting using digital technologies can speed up research and development cycles for new materials, products, processes, or business models in areas where zero-carbon and green  technologies are not yet competitive” (p. 44).

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The report also presents the social, economic and political factors that influence the twin transitions, by referring to the recent crisis we have been experiencing, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war. Finally, it presents the main challenges against successful twin transitions in social, technological, environmental, economic and political contexts, and discusses what can be done to cope with these challenges. For example, “ensuring ethical use of technology” is critical for addressing concerns related to data protection and surveillance. Similarly, “ensuring diversity of market players” is important to cope with capacity- or market-entry-barriers, especially for smaller organizations (p. 75) [Read More: Towards a green and digital future].

It is well known that innovation is indispensable in finding solutions to the sustainability-related challenges we experience today. Coupling the design and implementation of digital technologies with sustainability initiatives, in other words twin transitions, can contribute to solving these challenges. It is therefore important that the concept is well understood and accepted by actors from public, private and social sectors; and promoted by higher education institutions through (further) research and training offers in the field.

TOO4TO project aims at supporting students and professionals in expanding their knowledge and skills in topics related to sustainability and sustainable management. The link between emerging digital technologies and sustainability is one of the topics that has been addressed in the TOO4TO training curriculum and e-learning modules. Follow our project and its outputs to learn more about sustainability-specific topics.

Written by Global Impact Grid


JRC Report on ‘Towards a green and digital future’. Available at:

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Fast Fashion is out of Fashion. Reusability – New Trend in the Textile Sector

The textile and apparel sector is of high importance and complexity. The transition to more sustainable and circular textile systems affects various stakeholders through the whole value chain and life cycle of the product. The EU is concerned about those challenges, and therefore the corresponding strategies and regulations are developed in order to guide the stakeholders. This paper is oriented to light upon the reuse as an option of the extension of the life cycle of the products. What kind of transformations are needed in order to make it effective and scalable as a promising tool for the circularity of the sector?

EU consumption of textiles is mostly based on imports. It has a significant negative environmental impact: the 4th on climate change and the 3rd on water and land use from a life-cycle perspective (EEA, 2022). 5.8 million tons of textiles are discarded in the EU each year, approximately 11 kg per person per year (EEA, 2019). Landfilled or incinerated textile results in huge losses of textile primary resources. It also leads to losses related to production processes because of the usage of millions of tons of water and kilowatts of energy, and work hours (Aus et al., 2021). In solving the problems of the waste sector, the EU has determined that every member state must introduce a separate collection system for textiles from January 1, 2025 (2008/98/EC, 2018), in order to reduce the amount of textiles to be landfilled as waste and promote their recycling and reuse rates. 

Up to 2.1 million tons of second-hand clothing and textiles are collected separately for recycling or reuse in the EU each year, representing around 38% of all textiles placed on the EU market (JRC 2021). It varies considerably in the EU member states, e. g. 5% of used textiles are collected in Latvia, respectively 11% in Lithuania and Italy, 30% in Estonia, 40% in Norway, 42% in Denmark and 70% in Germany. The rest of the textile products are discarded as mixed municipal waste for landfilling and/or incinerated (Nordic, 2020; Sandin & Peters, 2018).

However, the collection of used textiles (as waste) separately does not ensure higher recoverability or lower environmental impact. Organizations operating in the used textile collection sector report that there is a small share of textile products suitable for the reuse market. Meanwhile, there is a huge lack of recycling technologies and a market for low-quality textiles (Nordic, 2020). The development of recycling technologies and the implementation of national or international systems is a long-lasting process. Therefore the life cycle extension strategies are getting more and more relevant in the EU market in order to foster the transition towards circular textile systems.

According to the (WRAP, 2017) report, the reuse of textile is the most popular in Denmark, where 17% of the population try out second-hand market options before buying new clothes. However, the EU Waste Prevention Report (EEA, 2018) shows that the average reuse rate is below 9% in Denmark and below 5% in other EU countries.

The European Commission adopted the EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles (Strategy) in March 2022, addressing environmental, waste and social challenges in this sector and opportunities for more sustainable development. The Strategy recognizes that extension of the textile lifetime is the most effective way to significantly reduce its negative impact (EC, 2022). The strategy seeks to solve the current situation of consumption patterns: consumerism and decreased quality of apparel. The main reasons why consumers discard textiles are the low quality of clothes and short usability. The fast fashion trend includes mass production of garments, quickly responding to the latest fashion trends and enticing consumers to keep buying at low prices.

Figure 1 Sustainable textile life cycle (, 2022)

As indicated in the strategy and proved by the researchers, the most important instrument for the extension of textile products’ lifetime (fig. 1) is prevention based on the Eco-design Regulation for Sustainable Products (Regulation). The design of product determines up to 80% of its life-cycle environmental impact (Commission et al., 2014) and based on the following regulation requirements products will be more sustainable, reliable, reusable, upgradeable, repairable, maintainable, refurbishable, recyclable and energy, resource and socially efficient (European Commission, 2022b).

The production, consumption and extension of the life cycle of sustainable textiles will gain meaningful benefits through the whole value chain of textile products by the introduction of a digital product passport. The main aim of it is to collect and provide valuable data on a product’s environmental performance and its suitability for reuse, repair, recycling and other circular options. Application of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) principle expected in the Strategy would oblige producers and suppliers to the EU market to take responsibility for the textile waste they generate, resulting in an additional need on the part of the producer to find solutions for sustainable product design, new recycling technologies and wider reuse activities, thus ensuring the prevention of textile waste and the longest possible use of textiles as products. EPR systems for textiles are active in two EU Member States: France (since 2008) and Sweden (since the beginning of 2022). EPR for textiles will start in the Netherlands in 2023. However, the EU is supposed to provide consolidated guidelines for all of the EU.

The Textile Strategy also focuses on strengthening responsible consumption and awareness among consumers so that the demand for sustainable textiles would increase not only from the political strategies and regulations but also from the consumers’ “bottom-up” intentions. The Strategy facilitates the development of responsible consumption behaviour by implementing the following measures: manufacturers publicly disclose information on how they dispose the unsold or returned textiles; using only credible eco-claims and correct eco-labelling and considering the introduction of a digital label; the provision of information to the consumer at the point of sale on the products’ commercial durability guarantee, reparability level, etc. 

Although the Strategy was adopted on March 30, 2022, the transition towards a sustainable textile economy has already begun quite efficiently. 12.5% of the fashion industry is committed to circular fashion, and many leading retailers have set bold targets and increased consumers’ awareness about fashion’s environmental impact (Global Fashion Agenda, 2018). Thus, the decoupling is on the process in different stages of the value chains: starting from the resources’ use when the textile industry is looking for solutions for new-garment designs, sustainable materials, and advanced recycling technologies, but also implementing new circular business models that are reuse-oriented (Fashion for Good & Accenture., 2019) (figure 2). The circular business models (renting, end-of-life collection services, second-hand clothing collections, resale, repair, remaking, etc.) aim to optimize the life cycle stage of usage and provide more opportunities for textile products to be reused after the primary use phase (UNEP, 2020).

Figure 2 Textile reuse center in Alytus, Lithuania

A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2021) found that the global value of reuse businesses in 2019 was 73 billion USD (figure 3), and it represented 3.5% of the global fashion market revenues. It was estimated that the share of the reuse market could increase up to 23% of the fashion market (USD 700 billion) by 2030. It would lead to a 16% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The study estimates that these business models will grow faster in Europe and North America and could account for around 43% of total fashion market revenue in Europe by 2030.

Figure 3 The economic value of reuse businesses 2019 – 2030 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2021)

After a brief overview of textile waste prevention in the context of reuse, the Textile Strategy will be one of the key documents guiding the direction and means of building a sustainable and circular textile economy. Inspired by eco-design requirements and the application of producer responsibility, the textile industry will stimulate and influence the search for innovative alternatives to prolong the product life cycle, which will allow the expansion of existing textile reuse models and the creation of new ones. Reuse is a much more promising strategy, which will be supported by the EU and national institutions. Therefore, investing in the textile service and reverse logistics activities is an opportunity for the various stakeholders within the value chain and their cooperation. The consumers and environment will gain many positive effects out of this transformation from fast fashion towards the extension of the usage of higher quality textile products and services.

Written by Agnė Jučienė, Inga Gurauskienė, Institute of Environmental Engineering, KTU, Lithuania


2008/98/EC. (2018). Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 19, 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (Text with EEA relevance).

Aus, R., Moora, H., Vihma, M., Hunt, R., Kiisa, M., & Kapur, S. (2021). Designing for circular fashion: integrating upcycling into conventional garment manufacturing processes.

Commission, E., Energy, D.-G. for, & Industry, D.-G. for E. and. (2014). Ecodesign your future: how ecodesign can help the environment by making products smarter. European Commission.

EEA. (2018). Waste prevention in Europe — policies, status and trends in reuse in 2017.

EEA. (2019). Textiles and the environment in a circular economy.

EEA. (2022). Textiles and the environment: the role of design in Europe’s circular economy.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2021). Circular business models: Rethinking business models for a thriving fashion industry.

European Commission. (2022a). EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. COM (2022) 141 Final.

European Commission. (2022b). On making sustainable products the norm COM (2022) 140 final.

Fashion for Good & Accenture. (2019). Driving circular business models in fashion.

Global Fashion Agenda. (2018). 2020 Commitments.

Nordic. (2020). Post-consumer textile circularity in the Baltic countries: current status and recommendations for the future.

Sandin, G., & Peters, G. M. (2018). Environmental impact of textile reuse and recycling – A review [Article]. Journal of Cleaner Production, 184, 353–365.

UNEP. (2020). Sustainability and Circularity in the Textile Value Chain: Global Stocktaking.

WRAP. (2017). Mapping clothing impacts on Europe: the environmental cost. (2022).

Individual and team level reflections as tools for sustainable learning

Today, almost every organization operates in virtual and even more complex environments. The Sustainable Management: Tools for Tomorrow (TOO4TO) project has addressed this challenge and contributes to the goal of better and more sustainable virtual leadership by integrating the development of virtual team leadership and sustainable leadership skills in a sustainable management e-learning course. In addition, the project promised to develop learners’ skills needed in virtual teamwork. 

TOO4TO course provides learners an opportunity to form multidisciplinary and multicultural virtual teams and work on an authentic real-life sustainable management case. Pedagogical approaches are applied in these authentic learning activities and environments (e.g., Lakkala & al. 2015).  However, we know that it is quite common that in a project-based course like this, the student teams have strong task orientation and focus heavily on the final output (see Jaime & al. 2019). This usually lowers the importance of developing sustainable team working and leadership skills (soft skills). The risk of low importance on developing teamwork and leadership skills risk can be reduced by using reflections as tools as part of learning activities. Both individual level and team level reflections are included because virtual collaboration is seen as a team construct, consisting of the individual members’ thoughts and experiences of working in a team (Liao 2017).

To enhance project-based learning experiences in the TOO4TO-course, the reflection of learning is knotted into the learning process. 

Every student is encouraged to post an individual learning reflection diary to the eLearning environment. Individual reflections impact learning and help learners to learn by 

  • increasing the depth of knowledge, 
  • identifying the areas that need improvement, 
  • personalizing knowledge, and 
  • helping learners see the structural connections in knowledge and creating social connections among them. (Chang 2019).

In the learning diaries students explain e.g., their knowledge of the course content, attitudes, feelings and learning strategies as well as connections and cooperation with other students. 

It helps to describe one’s own experience, which supports personal growth and helps to identify weaknesses and strengths related to learning (Humak 2022).

Every team will also reflect their teamwork at the team level.  Team level reflections keep the teams on course, strengthen team members´ abilities, and use problem-solving to examine teamwork. Teams also need rules and procedures as well as skills to identify and overcome interpersonal conflicts, deal with failures, and celebrate success as they work together. Team level reflections lead to 

  • operational cohesion,
  • collective orientation toward the task, 
  • close relationships within the team,
  • shared meanings, 
  • greater coordination,
  • clearer communications.

(Liao 2017).

However, it is good to note that students and student teams also need support in understanding the importance and technique of reflection (see Köpeczi-Bócz 2020). 

To sum up, 

  • both individual reflections and team level reflections are necessary for learning
  • reflections support students and student teams in transition from passive learners to active learners
  • reflections enable the teachers to follow the student teams´ progress and intervene in a timely manner if necessary.

Of course, the use of reflections as a tool is not only limited to education and training but is also a useful tool in working life. Virtual team members need routines like time set aside for teams to reflect together on what they are learning and what they might do differently (Dixon 2017). Applying reflections already in educational settings encourages students to continue their learning journey in real-life virtual projects leading to lifelong learning as one aspect of sustainable learning (Graham & al. 2015).

Written by Mervi Varhelahti, Marjatta Rännäli & Susanna Saari, Turku University of Applied Sciences


Chang, B. (2019). Reflection in learning. Online Learning, 23(1), 95-110.

Dixon, N. (2020). Learning together and working apart: Routines for organizational learning in virtual teams. The Learning Organization, April 2017 Issue. Accessed on 08 February 2020 via ResearchGate:

Graham, L., Berman, J. & Bellert. A (2015). Sustainable Learning: Inclusive Practices for 21st Century Classrooms. Cambridge University Press.

Humak (2022). Pieni opas kirjoittamiseen.

Köpeczi-Bócz, T. (2020). Learning portfolios and proactive learning in higher education pedagogy. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 10 (5).

Lakkala, M., Toom, A., Ilomäki, L. & Muukkonen, H. (2015). Re-designing university courses to support collaborative knowledge creation practices. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 31(5), 521-536.

Liao, C. (2017). Leadership in virtual teams: A multilevel perspective. Human Resource Management Review, 27(4), 648-659

Sustainable Living: Caring for One’s Well-Being as well as That of the Planet

When we discuss sustainability, our focus is usually on corporations and governments; how they can decrease their negative impact on the environment / society and boost sustainable development and transformation. As single individuals, our environmental footprint may be quite low compared to those of institutions (such as companies); however, we can still make contributions in change towards a more sustainable future by making adaptations in our lifestyles and leading a (more) sustainable living.

Sustainable living can be defined as “understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us and finding ways for everyone to live better and lighter.” [1]. It is an approach to decrease one’s demand on natural resources by, for example, stopping to use a certain product or service that is produced and delivered through unsustainable ways and have a huge negative impact on our planet; or by making behavioral changes in one’s everyday life to decrease one’s ecological footprint.

Sustainable living is closely related to the concept of sustainable consumption, which means “the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations.” [2]

The importance of sustainable consumption in achieving sustainable development is so important that it also appears in one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN). SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production pursues “ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns” and “doing more and better with less”. [3]

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According to a few facts presented by the UN;

  • “Each year, an estimated one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices.
  • If people worldwide switched to energy-efficient light bulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually.
  • Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.” [3]

A simple online research on ‘how to lead a more sustainable life’ gives various ideas for small lifestyle changes that can change one’s impact on the planet for the better.

One example would be to decrease the consumption of animal-based products in one’s diet, which would not only boost one’s own health, but also that of the planet.

Image by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

According to Dr. Michael Greger’s videos on Which Foods Have the Lowest Carbon Footprint? and Diet and Climate Change: Cooking Up a Storm “In California, including more animal products in your diet requires an additional 10,000 quarts of water a week. That’s like taking 150 more showers each week. Instead of eating meat every day, if you skip meat on weekdays, you could conserve thousands of gallons of water a week and cut your daily carbon footprint and total ecological footprint by about 40 percent.” [4] “The foods that create the most greenhouse gasses appear to be the same ones that contribute to many of our chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.” [5]

Another example would be to stop contributing to the growth of the fast-fashion industry and shopping for what is really needed and going for sustainable brands or second-hand clothes. The fashion industry is indeed known as one of the main pollutants of our planet. According to the Deutsche Welle Documentary on Fast fashion – The shady world of cheap clothing, “Our planet is being swamped in clothes with some 56 million tons sold every year. The number sold in Europe has doubled since the turn of the millennium”. [6]

Image by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

According to Prof. Nikolay Anguelov, who presents interesting facts in the documentary, it is estimated that “by 2030 the industry will expand by an additional 60 percent”, which is very worrying considering, among many other issues, the amount of dumped clothes every year. Indeed, as Prof. Anguelov puts it, “Fast fashion is the commerce of very inexpensive clothing that you are expected, or you are ready to replace very rapidly. It’s very typical for the fashion forward buyer to never wear an outfit that they purchased. You will wear something once or twice or maybe never.” [6]

It is important that each individual is aware that one’s actions and choices do have an impact on climate change -among many other social and environmental challenges we experience today- and gets informed about the small changes he/she can make for a more sustainable lifestyle. To start with, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) presents a footprint-calculator, a questionnaire through which one can calculate his/her individual ecological impact and makes the first step towards a more sustainable living.

Written by Ela Kurtcu, Global Impact Grid