Offset co2 emissions while traveling

I think it was a year ago when I first heard it. It was a social movement that, although it was making travel more inconvenient, was focused on switching plane rides to train rides. Companies were starting to send their employees on business trips by train instead of by plane. The idea behind this was to reduce emissions, and – when it was not possible – at least to offset CO2 emissions.

And it seems that, instead of being the classic thing that decays after a big PR announcement of the company in question, more and more people think about when traveling. Today’s post is about that.

The social movement that aims to quit traveling by plane

I wanted to investigate more about this. It seems that it all began in Sweden a year ago with something called “Flygskam“. It translates as “shame for flying” (as it can be read in Wikidata): feelings of shame over flying for environmental reasons.

No wonder the concept started in Sweden: Swedes fly seven times more than the average European, and 61% of all the CO2 emitted by the country is caused by air travel. Thus, many of them switched to trains in light of this.

This year I was also present in a couple of conversations on this subject. People told me that several German companies no longer pay the plane for their employees if the trip is within the country, but they pay for the train instead. Companies that do that are for example Tele 5, Richel Stauss , Weiberwirtschaft and Naturstrom. Bosch, instead of doing that, donates money to offset CO2 emissions from its employees on business trips, as Tagesspiegel (DE) tells us .

Train tracks in Finland
Train beats plane in CO2 emissions.

Within Europe, Spain seems to be a leading country in high-speed train network to cover this initiative. Unfortunately, many countries are still lagging behind on this topic. In Germany for example there is only one high-speed train line between Munich and Berlin, and that’s it. And in Finland the only one I know is the Lapland Express train.

How do I know my CO2 emissions while traveling?

If you also have this feeling, or you are simply curious and you want to see the emissions a given person would produce on a particular flight, there is a page that I use: Atmosfair .

In it there is a calculator to see what are the CO2 emissions of your flight or cruise, and if you want to also offset CO2 emissions – for the entire trip or a custom donation – you can do it too.
For example, these are the results on a round trip flight between Helsinki and Madrid:

To offset CO2 emissions properly, you have to know what they are.

And if you decide to offset the carbon, being this a donation you can deduct on your tax return, as they give you a certificate for it.

I have also started to do offset CO2 (sometimes)

I’ve done this in last trips of Big in Finland, of which we will talk soon in the blog (if you want spoilers, you can see where we have been in the instagram of Big in Finland ). It is not much, but even little is a little help for the planet.

And you, have thought about this subject? Have you ever (or will you) switched plane for train, or offset CO2 via donation or tax? Let us know in the comments.



The White Nights in Finland and other Nordic countries

I spent Midsummer in the Nordic countries last year. Oh boy, what an experience. One of the things I still had on my to-do list for Finland and the Nordic countries was to spend one of the white nights fully awake. And I did well: I stayed awake three nights.


The sun leaves and the white night starts.

Nights with light

It is hard to sleep in Finland during the summer, especially for people who are not used to that. The amount of hours without direct sunlight is very small, and the sun is already shining very brightly on the horizon around 3 or 4 a.m.

The locals don’t seem to notice – and there are no shutters in Finland’s bedrooms – but people like me, who are used to the simple routine of daylight during the day, darkness at night, wake up more often during the white nights and don’t rest as well.

But while visiting Finland or any other Nordic country it is, of course, a wonderful experience: The body has much more energy and – if the clouds let it – it leaves you smiling. I enjoy spending as much time as possible under the sun after a dark winter.

The light of the White Nights
That’s a lot of light for it being midnight.

The white nights

The white nights aren’t the same as the midnight sun, but almost.

Both phenomena happen in the north of Europe, but the midnight sun happens much further north; to be precise, north of the arctic circle. In this place the sun is visible in the sky during 24 hours at least one day per year. In the northernmost parts of Europe the sun stays up in the sky for weeks without setting.

But what happens below the arctic circle line? That’s where the white nights happen.

During the white nights the sun sets for a while, but its light can still be seen on the horizon. The night sky isn’t black, it is blue.

The nights are brigt enough to walk in the forest or on the streets without the need of artificial light. The opposite of this phenomenon is called the Kaamos in Finland: The polar night.

The Nordic Countries and the Arctic Circle line y la línea del círculo polar
The dotted line is the arctic circle: Above it there is midnight sun and below it the white nights happen. Source: Wikipedia.

My experience with the white nights

During my last visit to Finland, I wasn’t sure if the area I was going to be in was an area where I could see the white nights.

My location was south of Helsinki’s latitude, more or less the same latitude that Tallin is, and that is very much south of the arctic circle. That’s why I was so surprised to encounter the white nights: I didn’t plan that on my trip.

This is how it happened.

Around 10 p.m. the sun set below the horizon, and kept that position until 12 or 1 a.m., the darkest moment of the night. Then everything became clearer and clearer until we saw the sun again, around 3 to 4 a.m. But the clarity of the sky – and that’s the thing – never left.

The sky was blue and the place where the sun was below the horizon had a fantastic reddish color.

1 a.m. in the Nordic Countries in summer
1 a.m.: The darkest moment.

The effect that it had on me it was revitalizing. I wasn’t tired or sleepy. The three nights that I spent on my trip I was awake all “night” and able to see an early sunrise. No surprise: It was Juhannus – the midsummer, something we’ll talk about soon – and there were some parties with lots of friends, a ton of sauna, and a cottage outside the city.

And so we did it each night. Even if during the day it was sometimes cloudy, the evenings and the mornings were clear, and that made the white nights one of the best things of my trip. I can’t wait to see the white nights again.

Have you seen the white nights? What did you think about them?













What to eat and drink in Vappu (and recipes)

Talking with Finnish friends on Facebook, they reminded me that the Labour Day, Vappu – which in Finland is also a common day for graduation parties – is just some days ahead. It is, as usual, on the 1st of May and it’s a day where all Finnish flags are high on their masts.

It might be the most important Finnish party if we look at how much people enjoy it collectively. Christmas and Juhannus (midsummer) are more family oriented or celebrated with a small group of people, while Vappu is a day where all Finns take to the streets and celebrate together.

In our previous post about Vappu we told you what the celebration is about and why it is so important. Today we take it a step further and tell you the right things to eat and drink during Vappu in Finland.

If you are visiting the country, be sure to order them in restaurants or at food stalls when you see them! Or, if you are staying in Finland for a longer time, you can follow this post for instructions how to make these dishes yourself. They are sima for drinking, and tippaleipä and munkki for eating.

It's Vappu time, folks

Sima, the Vappu drink

Sima is a sweet and mildly alcoholic drink that is mainly consumed on Vappu, and mostly home-made. Its color is orange and you’ll always see some raisins floating on top of it. A nice refreshing drink for a day that is, hopefully, one of the first days of warmth in Finland.

In order to prepare Sima – a kind of Finnish mead – you’ll need: 8 liters of water, 400 grams of sugar, 400 grams of brown sugar, 0,2 liters of golden syrup, 3 lemons, some raisins and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast.

You prepare it like this: Boil half of the water. Put all the sugar and the syrup in a pot, then slowly add the boiling water while stirring until everything is dissolved. Wash and cut the lemon. Add the rest of the water to the pot.

When the water is lukewarm, add the yeast and the lemon. Let it ferment a day at room temperature.

The next day, add a teaspoon of sugar and some raisins to the mix. Pass the Sima through a strainer, then bottle it. Close the bottles (not too tightly) and let them rest in a cool place. The Sima will be ready for consumption two or three days later, when the raisins rise to the surface.

Tippaleipä

“Tippaleipä” can be translated as “funnel cake” – and that’s what it is. The batter, coming out of a funnel such as a pastry bag, is poured into hot cooking oil and deep fried. Afterwards it is sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Tippaleipä and Sima
Some Tippaleipä, along with a glass of Sima. Source (CC: by).

This Vappu dessert will need the following ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, 0,3 liters of milk, 0,4 liters of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar. You’ll also need powdered sugar for sprinkling the Tippaleipä at the end and oil to fry it.

Beat the eggs and the sugar in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the yeast and the milk at room temperature, then add salt and flour and mix all of it with the beaten egg. Put the mix in a pastry bag with the smallest funnel. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or pot.

Pour the batter into the hot oil and, with a spoon, move the batter slightly so it acquires curves before hardening. Keep on adding batter until it becomes a more or less rectangular shape. When the batter has a golden color, turn it around so it can fry on the other side. Take the Tippaleipä out of the pan and place it on some kitchen paper to drain the oil. Make as many Tippaleipäs as you want. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or Nutella or marmelade, up to you).

Munkki

The third recipe for Vappu is for Munkkis: the Finnish doughnuts. This is what I ate during my first Vappu in Finland, with great pleasure. It is a home-made donut.

Some Vappu doughnuts: Munkki
The Vappu donuts. Source (CC: by)

The ingredients for making Munkki: 1 cup of milk, 25 grams of yeast, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, 2,5 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of oil.

In order to make this Vappu dessert, you have to mix all ingredients and leave them in a warm place, until its batter doubles its size. Make small rings and let them grow again. Heat up the oil in a pan or pot, and when it is hot put the Munkkis – one by one – into the oil. Turn them around several times until they have a golden or brown color (have it your way). Take the Munkkis out of the oil and let them dry on a plate with some kitchen paper, so the excess oil gets drained. Sprinkle with sugar and you are ready to go (and eat).

If you want to go further, you can try the Berliininmunkki. It is a hole-less doughnut that is filled with marmelade and that is actually called Berliner in Germany.

If you had to pick your favorite food or drink from this post, what would it be? What do you do on the 1st of May?













Mämmi: The traditional Finnish Easter dessert

Before going to Salo on their Easter holidays, my Finnish friends recommended me to do two things this Easter. The first one is that I should try some chocolate easter eggs, Kinder or Fazer Mignon, and the second one is that I must try mämmi, the traditional Finnish Easter dessert, with some cream (kerma).

What is Mämmi

Mämmi looks like a puddnig, and it is served as a dessert during Easter in Finland. It is made from water, rye flour, powdered malt, dark molasses, salt and orange zest. To serve and eat it, it is mixed with kerma or milk and this is how it looks:

Mämmi
This is what mämmi looks like. Appetizing, right? Source (CC:by)

Finns are eager to let anybody try their dessert these days, and some other friends were urged to give it a try. A friend of mine got some mämmi from friends, and after she tried it she gave it to me and added the words “good luck”. So I gave it a try as well.

My take on mämmi
The mämmi I was about to eat

Mämmi’s flavor

Mämmi’s texture is strange and granular. Its looks weren’t particularly attractive (it is not a food that you eat with your eyes as well). The flavor of mämmi isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either: it tastes like dark bread, something they do like in Finland. Think of a dense dark bread, beaten.

If you’re looking for a recipe to do this kind of traditional Finnish Easter dessert, you can use this one and maybe you can give it your own spin to make it suit your taste better – since the original one may be too Finnish to be enjoyed by everybody.

Would I have mämmi ever again? Good question. I think if someone would offer it to me at a dinner table I wouldn’t refuse it. I think that it is, as other Finnish foods like the salty liquorice salmiakki, an acquired taste.

It won’t be the children’s favorite dessert, but if you like the flavor of dark bread I would definitely recommend you to try it. Update: here’s a video of Chef Gordon Ramsay tasting it and giving his professional opinion.

Have you tasted mämmi? What did you think about its flavor and texture? Granted, the presentation could be much, much better.














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