"Sustainability" means a state that can be maintained at a certain level for as long as needed. In order to stop or slow down one of the biggest problems the world is tackling at the moment which is global warming and climate change, we need to figure out how to be sustainable, so we can maintain our environment and life quality.

Climate change seriously endangers human civilization and might make it unstable as soon as by 2050. The atmosphere's temperature has already increased by about 1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and we must do everything in our power to keep the increase in temperature below 1,5°C because any further warming will cause extreme damage to the environment. It is still possible to limit global warming below 1,5°C but it requires well-coordinated and meaningful action by all individuals.

We have asked one of our partners Telia, and the winner of the 3rd Season of Future Heroes, Sisukott, on how they stay sustainable and where they stand on this topic.

— How do you promote sustainability as a company?


— As Telia's business strategy and voluntary work are connected to UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are promoting regularly possibilities of contributing to better society by voluntary work and educating our people about sustainable business focuses. Each quarter we have global voluntary activity like making digital maps for humanitarian aid purposes, deleting digital waste, organizing workshops on how to reduce your carbon footprint and waste. Through our business, we aim to create shared value through environmental action, community well-being, and innovation and growth.


— The reason we started making SISU bags in the first place was to minimize the damage done to nature due to overproduction and plastic pollution. Hence it was only natural to upcycle instead of buying brand new fabric. Uuskasutuskeskus is our main supplier of fabric – we use what they have not been able to sell. Uuskasutuskeskus sells second-hand books, dishes, and furniture so I recommend visiting them.

Sewing bags seemed like a task that some people with disabilities could do – turns out, we were correct – and giving someone with fewer work options an impactful job seemed the right thing to do. The people making the bags for us now are doing a brilliant job at it.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
— What are your company's environmental goals for the future?

— Telia has very specific Daring Goals for environmental action. By 2030, Telia will be CO2 neutral with zero waste by engaging all the employees and partners. We aim to reach the target 0% CO2, 0% waste and 100% action within our operations and throughout the value chain.


— We will continue selling different bags and other products that can replace single-use plastic in people's lives. We are currently prototyping tote bags and might release them in the first half of this year.
— Why is it important to you to be eco-friendly?

— Humans exist and grow only thanks to our planet and natural resources. As a company, we have a responsibility to contribute to the environment through digitalization and innovation that solve big societal problems where climate change is the most urgent one. Digital solutions and technology are the enablers for new solutions that can help to minimize CO2 emissions and waste.


— It is important to be eco-friendly because we live in an environment with climate and complex relations between species, although often we do not realize it and tend to believe we are the superior species in nature. It is important to minimize the damage we cause to the environment to not lose crucial "services" such as drinking water, stable climatic patterns that allow us to plant and harvest crops and so on.
— How does your company affect eco-friendliness in Estonians?

— This year we plan to engage Estonians to recycle their electronic (old phones, computers, tablets, etc) waste. We encourage people to change their paper bills for the electronic bill and for each quitted paper bill we will plant a tree to the Estonian forest with the help of our employees. Telia has been the founding member with other Estonian tech companies to pledge for climate neutrality through the initiative TechGreenPledge, which brings together tech companies and start-ups who voluntarily contribute to mutual action for reducing the industry's CO2 footprint.


— We aim to raise awareness of the problem of plastic pollution and overuse among Estonians. Furthermore, we strive to offer a handy and pleasant solution to it that everyone can use to make a small positive impact. We believe it is important to not just educate people on a problem but also provide a solution so the knowledge of the issue can be translated into action.
— Have you already seen the impact of your actions?

— A growing number of internal eco-friendly ambassadors show that our targets are relevant and important to our employees. Participation at digital clean-up day has been the most popular internal engagement action, with nearly 100 companies joined last year.


— We have already sold over 400 bags which allows us to estimate that about 1000 single-use bags might have been saved, or even more, depends on how many times the SISU bags have been used. Many customers have told us that they are now actively using the bags in their family which means that the attitude towards being environment-friendly in your day-to-day business is slowly shifting. However, the majority of people are still using single-use plastic bags and other products, so there is a lot to do.
Tips on how to be an environmentalist from Telia and Sisukott
- Share knowledge, best practices and give positive feedback.

- Start by using more public transport, instead of flying, take a train.

- Eat less meat and animal products.

- Support local farmers.

- Limit your plastic usage.

- Buy only what you need.

- Consider how you can minimize your impact on climate change through your daily habits.

- Educate yourself on global warming and its effects.

- Use your voice – talk to others, write articles, participate in climate strikes.

- Sort and recycle your trash.

- Limit your electricity usage.

Written by Nilgun Bahsi