On 400 years’ worth of experience in sustainability work
September 13, 2023
We visited the 374-year-old Fiskars Village to speak to Kati Ihamäki, vice president for sustainability and public affairs at Fiskars, about how the Finnish design institution’s almost four centuries of experience can help them to create truly sustainable design products.
What’s the importance of Fiskars Village?
— It’s where everything started for us back in 1649. I believe that the Fiskars Group and our projects are intertwined with our society, and the Fiskars Village is a testament to that. This is the heart of the operation in a sense, and this is a specific showcase of how companies should be involved with their local societies, and help other societies to develop and grow.
Being such an experienced company, what are your sustainability values?
— We want to get our main message through that it’s better for you, and the environment, if you invest in a product that is durable. By making sure that everything is meticulously and innovatively designed, we actively work against throwaway culture. At the same time, we’re also experimenting and pioneering new materials that are less harmful to the environment. So, not conforming to it being either recycled or long-lasting, it should be both. That’s our DNA.
— On top of this, the safety of our own workers affects the safety of our products, and therefore the safety of the consumers. We aim to combine all of this into our operation so that it’s a natural part of everything we do.
What are some of the challenges with this?
— If we want to have our core idea of sustainability in every process and in every product, we need to stay updated and stay hungry to learn. There are always new things emerging. Now there’s lots of discussion about the harmful substances in some of the frying pans, for instance. We must continue to learn, and that’s always a challenge.
How do you get your message across to your consumers, who ultimately are buying the products?
— We have a responsibility to educate people and consumers, and to make it easier for them to choose sustainable options. Not only telling them about what we do as a company, but what we can do for them to make better choices. That is one of the most important tasks for us, to help people and resellers to make better choices and to educate them about what we found in our experimentation with pioneering design.
And what about all the industry as a whole?
— Overall, I think we should co-operate more. We shouldn’t tell each other that ”you did this wrong, we did this better”. Instead, we learn from each other, and innovate together. I’m hoping for that to go on further, so that we can work with other partners in the industry and develop materials and services that are more sustainable for all of us.