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.
Houseplants are nice additions to homes and they do more than act as décors. Did you know that houseplants are useful for purifying the air you breathe in your home? By adding a few, choice, low maintenance house plants, we can help keep the air inside our homes clean and pure - eliminating pollutants and toxins, counteracting off-gassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal humidity.
Working in the kitchen stresses your hands. Having a good hand scrub handy will make it easier for your skin. Here is a very simple recipe from Good Life Eats (check there for US measurements), which only uses sugar, salt, lemon and olive oil. Incidentally, olive oil works great for baby skin, too.
- 350 ml sugar
- 170 ml salt
- zest of 1 extra large lemon (or other citrus)
- 240 ml olive oil
- 120 ml pure lemon extract, optional
Just mix everything together and put in jars.
- There are many eco-friendly alternatives for traditional cleaning products: why not try out new brands like e.g. Ecover? They have the whole range of products from toilet cleaners to whitening washing powders.
- Dishwashing machines work equally well with products from eco-friendly brands like e.g. Ecover
- For washing machines there are many alternatives: Omnio Bianco marseille, Froggy and Ecover have powders and liquid (and Ecover has a very effective product to treat dirty stains with before washing in the machine), or try the magnetic washing balls, or washing nuts (available in bio shops)
- Have you tried washing your windows with vinegar or products like Ecover before?
- Think of your health and use eco-friendly scents based on essential oils for your home and especially for your toilets!
Are you coming home and find your mailbox overflowing with supermarket advertising, catalogues and free trying to lure you into spending your money? Not only does it clutter up your mail and seduces you to part with your hard-earned euros, it is also a huge waste of paper and other ressources. There are a few steps you can take to reduce the advertising stampede:
- Go to the website of the Brussels Environment Website and have them send you their mailbox sticker (Flanders version here, Walloon version here). It allows you to indicate to the postman and other "suppliers" what exactly you want and do not want in your mailbox. This is an official sticker, which means you can actually launch a complaint when it is ignored. Note that infos from your Commune will still come through since they are not considered "presse gratuite/gratis bladen".
- Sign up to the Robinson List. Once you have done this, the 450 or so members of the Belgian Association of Direct Marketing should no longer send you their stuff. By the way, this also works for phone marketing.
- Contact the company directly, if there is no other way to make them stop sending you material.
- If you get customer publications from your insurance company, supermarket of choice or mobile phone provider, find out if they have an electronic version (mostly a PDF) on their website - one example is Electrabel's Energique magazine. Some communes also post their magazine as a PDF on their website.
- For more ideas on how to reduce paper - such as getting invoices by e-mail instead of snail mail - check the "Gestes pratiques" section at IBGM or the Mailbox Zero tips on Good.is.
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.
For health and environmental reasons, many of us do our best to eat organic produce and free-range meat, or even give up meat altogether. Likewise, we may try to be conscious of the body products we use, making sure that they do not contain harmful or irritating ingredients. While we pay attention to what we ingest and what we use on our bodies, we may be less mindful of the household cleaning products we use, thinking that they will not harm us anyway.
On the contrary, they can harm us. Conventional household products are a big source of indoor air pollutants due to their ingredients. They contain irritating and even carcinogenic components that enter our bodies through inhalation and skin contact. After usage, the harmful ingredients persist in the environment, cause harm to nature, and eventually end up in our bodies through the food we eat.
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.
In Belgium, each region and even each commune has a different system of sorting waste. To find out how what goes into which bag in your commune you can check www.fostplus.be. Everything which does not go into the usual white (general waste), blue (PMD - Plastic bottles and flasks, Metal packaging and Drinks), green (garden waste) and yellow (paper) bags or glass containers in your neighbourhood needs to be dropped elsewhere and it might sometimes be difficult to find out where.
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.