Friday, October 21, 2016

Imatra, Finland: Fifteen Efficient Facts about the Finnish - October 2016

Why didn't we think of that?

Reflecting upon our two years living in Finland, we've discovered several items the locals have enlisted to make life easier. While known for their environmental and social-consciousness, the Finns may not have invented these life hacks but they were new to us and notable to share with the rest of the world.
  1. Parking Cards. The Finns need not pay attention to pesky meters to secure a public parking spot. Instead the honor system is employed. Spots that are signed with a time limit require a blue card be placed in the windshield dash indicating the correct time of arrival.
  2. Shopping Cart Coin System. In order to borrow and "unlock" a shopping cart or buggy at the local grocery store, you need to deposit a coin into the handle bar. Your coin or coin-like token will be returned upon proper return of the cart.
  3. Drying Machine Bottle. Ever conscious of the environment, Finnish clothes dryers have a built-in system to capture the moisture loss in the process. Once at maximum capacity, the machine alerts you that the bottle is full and you can reuse the water to nourish your garden.
  4. Closet Organizers. The Finns as a rule make effective use of all spaces - no matter how big or how small. One example is that in smaller living quarters, closet organizers with removable baskets are used in place of dressers and armoires.
  5. Radiant Water Heating. Forget the thermostat. Wall-mounted radiant water heating units are secured in every room of the house to cut the winter chill in Suomi.
  6. Heated Floors and Garages. When the temperatures dip to 40 below, there's nothing more comforting than stepping out of the shower onto heated floor tiles or resting comfortably knowing the heated garage will ensure your car starts in the morning. It's the little things ...
  7. Dish Drying Racks. Who has time to use a towel to dry a plate after it's been washed? Not the Finns. Kitchen cupboard shelves double as drying racks with false bottoms allowing for the excess water to drip back into the sink.
  8. Public Firewood. You know a society is highly-evolved when it brags public areas outfitted with cabins equipped with pre-cut firewood and axes free for public consumption.
  9. Potted Herbs. In the middle of a long, cold winter, fruits and vegetables have to travel quite a distance to get to our friends in Finland. To ensure herbs are fresh and to extend their lives, they are purchased in grocery stores planted in soil cups.
  10. Transparent Window Blinds. When the days are only a few hours long, every ounce of sunshine, or even daylight for that matter, counts. To ensure their privacy but also take advantage of the daytime hours, transparent, one-way window blinds are the perfect solution.
  11. Curtain Clips. A bit conflicted, Finns are half of the time savoring the daylight and the remainder feverishly trying to block it out. Because darkening shades are required in the summertime, metal curtain clips are an easy way to continually modify your window treatments.
  12. Studded Shoes. Who says cleats are only for the ball field? To combat the bone-shattering sheets of ice present several months of the year, shoes studded with metal or plastic-bottomed cleats are in high demand. Some styles even have retractable studs to prevent sounding like a tap dancer while indoors.
  13. Shopping Bags for Purchase. Paper or plastic? Now that's a barbaric question. The answer is neither in Finland. In grocery stores you are required to bring your own reusable bags to carry home your goods or you can purchase a bag at the store.
  14. Silverware Buckets. Unless you are frequenting a fine dining establishment, you can find your eating utensils and napkins in a bucket. Finns save time setting the table or dishing out silverware to customers, by employing a fend-for-yourself policy. Just make sure your kids with grubby hands don't contaminate the batch!
  15. Checkless Pay. Can I write a check as payment? The question will send your Finnish friends laughing all the way to the bank. According to the local who schooled me, the country did away with paper check slips decades ago. Who needs something as formal as a check when you can rely on plastic or two Euro coins?