Circular Consumption Activities to Transform Households Toward Material Efficiency

Wasted food in our kitchen or the piles of forgotten clothes in our wardrobes may seem like the kind of stories confined within the walls of our homes. In reality, their impact extends way beyond.

Worldwide, households are responsible for a staggering 567 million tonnes of food waste every year*. Meanwhile, in the EU, the average person uses 26 kilogrammes of clothing and throws away 11 kilogrammes annually**. Such data points to the potential of circular lifestyles as a practical and effective way to reduce waste, keep products longer in use, and ultimately contribute to greater sustainability.

Endorsing circular lifestyles means rethinking the way we consume, repair, reuse and recycle resources in our daily lives. This is the essence of the CARE project, which delves into the ‘lives’ of 100 households in five European countries – Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Estonia – empowering them to live up to circular principles and discover how to make a real difference through lifestyle changes.

The CARE project strives to make circular lifestyles a fun, practical and rewarding process for the households involved. Expertise in consumption, behaviour and trends, combined with cutting-edge communication and design will support the project’s practical approach. Through collaborating with individuals, families and communities, the project will focus on how households can easily and effectively use food and clothing in a circular way. A key aim is to co-create, test and refine inclusive and free recommendations (advisory services) and practical activities that make sustainable consumption habits an effortless part of everyday life.

The CSCP plays a key role in CARE by leading the communication and dissemination activities at a European level as well as providing resources and support to the pilot partners to engage households across Europe in the project’s interactive activities. Using a variety of tools such as storytelling, ‘Circular Hero’ personas, creative social media content, a European event, a toolbox and a bespoke capacity building academy, the CSCP will work with the consortium partners to bring the project to life by actively sharing its results with a wide range of stakeholders across Europe.

The project’s overall approach is based on a systematic scientific methodology that accompanies the food and clothing pilots. The project will measure and evaluate progress through comprehensive impact assessments that focus on material efficiency, improved living conditions, and sustainable well-being. Using methods such as Life Cycle Analysis and Product Environmental Footprinting, CARE aims to accurately quantify the reduction in environmental impact.

During the course of four years, the goal of the project is not only to support the 100 participating households to make the transition toward more sustainable lifestyles, but also translate key learnings into easy-to-use tools for other cities and regions. With this, CARE aims to inspire and enable a wave of circular households in Europe and beyond.

The CARE project will run its pilots in Tampere (Finland), Asker (Norway), Gothenburg (Sweden), Berlin (Germany), and Lääne-Harju (Estonia), which are all part of the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative. The project runs from  2024 to 2028 and is implemented by a consortium of 11 organisations led by the University of Tampere, Norway. CARE is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research programme.

*UNEP Foodwaste Index 2021

** European Environment Agency (EEA) 2019