Biodiversity and Children
What could be more rewarding than spending some time with your children observing life in your garden (or even your balcony or park)? Whether it is planting some seeds and watching them grow into veggies, or watching butterflies visit a flower and roll out their long “straw” to drink nectar, if you just take the time, your garden will give your children a moment of internal quietness while they witness amazing buzzing activity. Before you start, try to make enough free time in order to enjoy nature’s activities with the family. With a bit of patience and flexibility, you can involve even small kids in the preparation phase and pick and choose your favourite activities: 1. Give your children their own little plot of land or their own plant container. Ownership is important here! No mum/dad or big sibling needs to interfere in the young child’s personal approach when it…
Nature’s Helping Hand
Summertime is here! Before you head off to your summer destination, you can plan ahead with some help from nature. Don’t let minor stings and aches spoil your travel fun! Put together a natural first aid kit so you are prepared for the unexpected. When traveling, it’s always easier to have things close by and avoid the emergency scramble to find things and/or communicate your needs in a foreign language. All it takes is a few trips to an organic store and a pharmacy to take care of the essentials. So what are some emergency essentials to keep on hand? The Belgian Red Cross has a First Aid kit available for around 20 euros and contains all the basics including bandages, an emergency thermal wrap, etc. In addition, here are some natural remedies (in alphabetical order) to get you started. Arnica – a tube in gel or cream form of…
Mobility with Kids
I live less than 300 metres from a large grocery shopping complex. Due to my lack of a driver's license, this proximity to the shops was of primary concern when we chose our house (right behind price!). Yet shortly after moving in, I realised that my dream of popping up at the shops to do the weekly re-stocking of groceries had turned into a nightmare for one reason - the kids. In my dream, I had never bothered to work out the seemingly impossible logistics of transporting three small children (at the time, all under 5), four large bags of shopping and my own, increasingly lagging morale, for 300 metres. What had initially seemed a hop, skip and jump from the house was suddenly more daunting than a marathon. Finally, after yet another epic excursion with me trying in vain to strap babies to my body, toddler in pushchair, bags of…
Forêt de Soignes Tree Planting Event - March 2012
We are happy to report that our tree planting in the Forêt de Soignes / Zoniënwoud on 18 March was a complete success. More than 500 of you joined us and planted nearly 2,500 trees! Our heartfelt thanks to all you who came along or contributed. You can browse though some pictures of the event in our online album.
The Bond Beter Leefmilieu (the Flemish umbrella association for a better environment) has an excellent campaign called "klimaatwijken" for citizens to act themselves and meet the European Kyoto goal. Starting each year on 1 November, households can commit themselves to cut 8% of their energy consumption in 6 months time. Participants can get advice of energy masters. For more info have a look at www.klimaatwijken.eu/be
Many of us are wasting money and energy because we have not set the right temperature for our fridge and/or freezer. The recommended setting is between 5 and 7 °C for the fridge and about -18 °C for the freezer.
December, dark mornings, early evenings, winter weather, holidays – It is the season of illumination! Whether an evening at home or inviting family and friends to a festive party – illumination brings atmosphere, comfort, and essential lighting. Illumination via electrical sources also brings increased cost to your pocket and the environment. Can you still light your home festively and be kinder to your pocket and your planet? Absolutely! A few tricks and changes and you're on your way.
Here is a test of the image gallery:
Did you know that you easily can get a green supplier for your energy in Belgium? Green electricity in Belgium is derived mainly from wind power, but also is generated from bio-gas (from fermentation), bio-mass (burning agricultural waste without releasing CO2), hydraulic power and solar power. Electricity itself cannot be more or less “green”, but using a green supplier makes sure they will invest part of their profits in renewable resources.
Energy Performance Certificates
Starting from 2009, you can ask for an Energy Performance Certificate when buying or renting a house. Such a certificate gives you an idea of how energy-efficient your house or apartment actually is. Taking into account things like insulation, heating, design of the building and ventilation, the certificate gives you a precise idea of how high your future energy bill will be when you actually live in your new dwelling. Energy performance certificates are valid for ten years, unless renovations are made before the date of expiration, which would make an earlier revision useful. The certificate is handed over to each new owner and a copy of it is provided in case you let.
If you live in the Brussels Capital Region, have a look at your house seen from the sky with a thermal camera measuring the efficiency of your roof insulation. The Brussels Environment Institute website shows you just how much heat you're wasting... available in Dutch or French. Subsidies for roof insulation are available in all regions of Belgium - learn more in our article on the topic.
You want to do something about the energy efficiency of your house? But where to start? Solar panels are very popular, but are maybe not the most efficient first step in your personal energy investment program.
First of all, you need to get the picture of the current status: an energy audit would be a good start. Optimizing your insulation and in door ventilation would be wise areas to investigate first.
In general, the biggest electricity consumers are the water boiler, air-conditioning, aquarium, oven, tumble dryer, halogen spots, TV, and - if they do not have energy saving labels - your fridge, freezer, or dish-washing machine. In Belgium alone, 79 million of electrical equipment is sold every year, or on average 17 products per family a year.
All products also have a hidden consumption of energy. There are two kinds of hidden energy: the energy needed to produce a product and the energy your product consumes without you noticing it.