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Sustainable exchange at ÅAU

Sustainable exchange at ÅAU

This page provides you with inspiration on a greener stay at Åbo Akademi University. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with this information as you will find guidance on sustainable travelling, recycling and buying necessities for your new home and much more. Our selection of courses relating to sustainability also provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the subject.


Start your exchange with an adventure by travelling green from your hometown by train, bus, ferry or carpool to either Åbo or Vasa.

  • By travelling green you will:
    • Reduce your carbon footprint
    • Start your exchange in an exciting way
    • Visit several cities during your travels
    • Experience different landscapes and transportation forms

Ferries from Stockholm, Tallinn, Umeå and Travemünde

Finland cannot be reached from other parts of Europe without a ferry ride. Both Åbo and Helsinki can easily be reached by ferries from Tallinn in Estonia and Stockholm in Sweden. The ferryroutes from Stockholm and Tallinn are operated by Viking Line and Tallink. The ferry between Åbo and Stockholm is the fastest option to arrive in Åbo, with the lowest emissions.

Wasaline operates between Umeå in Sweden and Vasa. Finnlines operates between Travemünde in Germany and Helsinki. If you are an interrail pass holder you may get a discounted price on the ferry ride.

Train ride through Denmark and Sweden

Students from Central Europe may choose a comfortable route by train via Denmark and Stockholm, and lastly taking the ferry over from Stockholm or Umeå.

You can choose to spend the night in for example Copenhagen or Stockholm.

Bus ride through the Baltics

Both Åbo and Vasa can be reached with Flixbus by a straight connection from Warsaw, Poland. The bus ride takes approximately 22 hours from Warsaw to Åbo, including the ferry ride between Tallinn and Helsinki.

The bus ride from Warsaw to Vasa takes around 27 hours, including the ferry ride. Therefore, this route is for the more dedicated travelers. Fortunately, you can plan a stop in one of the three capitals along the way in Vilnius, Riga or Tallinn.

The ticket prices from Warsaw to Åbo and Vasa are around 70 euros.


Carpooling is a good option for travelling green with your fellow exchange students or friends!

Taking a plane

Taking a plane is sometimes necessary, you can lower your emissions by:

  • Packing lightly
  • Choose an airline that works for lowering their emissions
  • Take a direct flight, or take a flight with as few layovers as possible
  • Sometimes you can offset your carbon footprint by paying a small “carbon offset” fee

Where to buy necessary items?

Second-hand shops are sustainable and affordable options for buying your utilities, furniture and clothes.

How does the waste treatment and recycling function?

Recycling is very common in Finland. We highly encourage you to recycle, as it is one of the easiest ways to protect the environment.

  • The residential buildings usually have their own recycling bins on the yard, typically for paper, glass, metal, cardboard, and bio-waste. Normal mixed waste should be sorted into burnable waste.
  • Recycling bins are also found on campus.
  • If your residential building does not have recycling bins, you should find them next to bigger supermarkets.
  • The containers usually have instructions on what to put where. Make sure that you do no put your garbage in a container where it does not belong.
  • Please see recycling instructions here.
  • Note that hazardous waste should never be put in the burnable waste bins. Please recycle them correctly and take them to recycling or waste treatment centers. Your nearest recycling centers can be easily found at Kierratys.info.
  • Small electronic devices can be brought to stores that sell electronic devices.
  • Medicines can be brought to the pharmacies for disposal.

Bottles and cans

Note that bottles and cans shall be returned to the grocery stores. Finland uses a deposit-based return system for beverage packages, which enables the efficient collection of packages for recycling.

  • You will receive 0.10 – 0.40 cents per bottle.
  • You can find the bottle recycling usually just outside the entrance of the store. In smaller stores, they are usually found inside the store.
  • The company responsible for bottle recycling is Palpa.

Getting around

Åbo and Vasa are both relatively small cities and you can easily move by foot or by bike. The public transportation is also a good option.

Students in Åbo may use:

  • City bikes, which have a monthly fee just over five euros and are available during the summer season (and mild winters).
  • Electric scooters, including Voi, Lime and Tier.
  • The public transportation company, Föli. Students are eligible for discounts on the bus cards.
  • More information on different shared-use vehicles in Åbo is found on the city’s website
  • Please also see information on sustainable travelling possibilities in Åbo on the website of the tourist information.

In Vasa, you can choose between:

  • The bus company, Lifti, where you can get student discounts.
  • Electric scooter companies, such as Voi and Tier.

If you plan to travel within Finland, please see the sustainable travel destinations here. Remember, that students are eligible for discounts at some train (VR) and bus (Matkahuolto) companies.

  • You can easily check timetables and your estimated carbon footprint at the following site: Perille.fi.

Grocery stores

  • Prioritize locally produced items. Products that have been produced in Finland can be recognized by a label with the Finnish flag
  • If you consume local products, you can also easily discover which plants and fruits are seasonally grown. Think about the seasonality of any produce that you buy as imported too.
  • You can also choose to buy organic products, which have green labels on them
  • Consider enjoying a more plant-based diet. Vegetarian meals are more sustainable than animal-based meals and usually more affordable too.
  • Grocery stores sell discounted products that are near expiration date, they are marked with red -30% or -50% labels
  • Bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store. Plastic bags cost around 20 cents

Buying restaurant left overs

  • In the ResQ app, you can find food at affordable prices with sometimes a 50% discount of the original price. Restaurants and grocery stores use the app to avoid food waste

Tap water

  • The tap water in Finland is of excellent quality
  • Use a refillable water bottle and fill it up anywhere you travel in Finland!


  • Most course materials can be loaned form the ÅAU libraries
  • The public libraries in both Åbo and Vasa are free to use and have a good selection of books and other services

Borrowing items

  • The public libraries contain far more items than books. If you are looking to use an item only for a short time, consider borrowing it from a library. For example, if you look for “physical objects” in the Vaski Web Library you can find a big selection of items, ranging from board games to backpacks.
  • You can always check with friends if you can borrow an item of theirs short term
  • There are several rental services for different items. For example, at the city of Turku you can rent sports equipment.

  • Do not throw away any items that could be used by others and are in a good condition. Give them away or sell them instead.
  • Second-hand items can be sold or donated to the same places where you can buy them, please see some examples here.
  • If you have products that cannot be given or sold, please recycle them correctly!
  • See the guide on sorting household waste for proper recycling.
  • Remember that hazardous waste should not be put in the burnable waste bins. You should take it to your nearest recycling or waste treatment centers, please see Kierratys.info for location information.
  • Small electronic devices can be brought to stores that sell such devices. Medicines can be brought to the pharmacies for disposal.

Åbo Akademi offers a cross faculty minor in Sustainability Studies. The subject consists of a selection of courses which are also available in English and open for students at all faculties. The UniPID-network also offers a minor in Sustainability in Development where all courses are available to students at Åbo Akademi.

If you have a ÅAU username and wish to learn more about actions or events relating to sustainability at Åbo Akademi, you can follow the Viva Engage channel “Team-ÅAU Sustainable Development / ÅA Hållbar utveckling”.

Åbo Akademi University is an associate member of the European School of Sustainability Science and Research, which is an inter-university consortium composed by members, who share an interest in sustainability science and in matters related to sustainable development.

Updated 14.5.2024