“I have always been concerned about the Baltic Sea archipelago and marine environment. It seems paradoxical that a country like Finland with a high level of knowledge and interest is located along the coast of one of the world’s most polluted seas,” Amanda Sundell says.
According to Sundell, although many people would like to contribute to a cleaner Baltic Sea, putting words into action is often a challenge. This is where DROPP, the social enterprise Sundell established in 2014, comes into the picture.
“I wanted to turn people’s passive interest into concrete action by launching a product that they could buy and thereby contribute to something important.”
DROPP sells recyclable water bottles and bottled spring water. The company currently has more than 400 retailers in Finland, ranging from nationwide chains to smaller shops and cafés that wish to offer more sustainable alternatives to their customers.
The idea is not to urge people to buy more water bottles, but to encourage them to choose a better alternative if they have already decided to buy a bottle.
“Many Finns have a strong connection to nature. The archipelago and the Finnish coast are part of my spiritual landscape. They give me so much that it’s important for me to work for the welfare of our environment.”
Fighting for justice and the environment
Sundell has always been interested in social issues and been passionate about justice and the environment. That was also why she began to study at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Social Sciences.
“Social sciences helped me see the big picture and develop myself on many levels.”
“I appreciated being allowed to read and learn a lot before deciding what I would then do. The combination of independence, freedom and responsibility was a healthy experience for me.”
After completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Helsinki in 2008, Sundell continued her studies in London.
“It was clear to me that I wanted to go abroad. Rather than going on a student exchange, I wanted to pursue a degree abroad,” Sundell says.
Support for important initiatives
After her studies, Sundell completed a traineeship and worked for various organisations in London, Brussels and for the UN in Macedonia. Her experiences made her see how intense the competition is for funding and support for environmental work.
“That’s why DROPP’s goal is to generate as much money as possible to support important projects and initiatives. Our enterprise model enables organisations to focus on their tasks rather than compete with others for limited resources.”
Last year, DROPP donated €100,000 to the Baltic Sea Action Group and the University of Helsinki’s Tvärminne Zoological Station.
Environmental projects of the future
Sundell currently divides her time between Helsinki and an ecological farm close to Ekenäs. She is a member of DROPP’s Board, which has ambitious goals to provide new products and services in the future.
“We think a lot about how to eliminate packaging and plastic. The goal is to donate more and generate as much funds as possible.”
Sundell is also considering what her next project will be.
“The common thread running through everything I have done is finding a way to make a difference wherever you are. I don’t know what my next project will be, but it will probably focus on environmental issues because they are such an important theme for me.”