Jobs and society  |  Successes  |  10.11.2014

Cleaning Day in Finland: sustainable consumption and a sense of community

Siivouspäivä, which in Finnish language means ‘cleaning day’, is a day when flea markets and recycling spots take over the city streets. It is described to be a festival which turns the cities and neighborhoods into vivid secondhand flea markets. Everyone is entitled to sell their secondhand items on the streets, yards or even at home and also make useful findings in other stands. At the same time, several recycling stations – managed by volunteers - are placed around the cities. 

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The aim of Siivouspäivä is to facilitate the finding of new purposes for old objects, goods and clothes: the idea is to make recycling easy with the principle that one man's trash is another man's treasure. While old objects find new purposes and people’s closets are cleaned, a dynamic and responsible urban culture is created in cities and neighborhoods. Sellers can join other sellers and in this way create wider market areas. Also it is possible for whole neighborhoods to participate in this event together.

What makes Siivouspäivä special and a true ‘people’s event’ is that the day has no official organiser; each participant is expected to act as the event organiser and take responsibility. Participants are liable for cleaning up after themselves and making sure that the process of selling and buying runs without problems. People can announce their sales stores by signing it up on the Siivouspäivä main page. The bureaucratic threshold for participating has been made low: in Helsinki, the Public Works Department pre-approves placements of sales spots in public areas without distinct permits as long as the seller has marked his/her store on this website. 

Siivouspäivä has achieved great popularity and support among the general public. At the same time this purifying day has managed to gain support from nearly all notable recycling and disposal organisations in the capital region. The involving and collaborative atmosphere is emphasised by the fact that, among using social media with distributing information about the sales stands and locations, a group of participants (university students) in Siivouspäivä have developed a smart phone app to browse the stands while on the go.  

Cleaning day is seen as a riposte towards consuming new materials and producing new goods. At the same time, Siivouspäivä is creating bounds in neighborhoods and communal atmosphere in cities and thus promoting sustainable social sustainability. The first Cleaning Day was held in May 2012. These days Siivouspäivä takes place twice a year. The current and on-going goal is to make the Cleaning Day as an international event held also in other countries.  

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