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.
Help with smog prevention
Read about winter smog in Belgium in our new article. Yes, you can do something about it!
1. avoid using the car: alternatives and links in our article on smog
2. if you have to use the car: practise eco driving
3. use less energy and get ideas by participating at an energy challenge session 21 or 28 January 2009
Green your Holidays
already thinking about your next break? Give the planet a break at the same time by trying reduce the environmental impact of your little escape. Have a look at our holidays page for some suggestions.
- 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!
Monthly eco-challenge: Start biking!
Fix that bike of yours and oil it, because the season just asks for it!
No more excuses, only advantages for taking that bike forward! Check out www.bicycle.irisnet.be and www.fridaybikeday.be to find all the good reasons to bike!
And have a look at our website under transport and holiday to find the perfect tools, maps, travel itineraries, and accessories to make you feel good!
Choose your options: to bike daily to work or school, to select all distances below 6km (or more for the brave ones) or to dedicate at least one day per week to a biking tour to start with!
Sunbeams and Jane Goodall
If you have a look at our goals and mission you can see why we want to support the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in every way we can. The JGI has been very active to observe, protect and preserve the chimpanzees and their habitat in different places in Africa. Seeing the rainforest being more and more threatened by e.g. deforestation and poachers, they supported the neighboring villages with a range of sustainable development cooperation in order to reinstall the harmony between nature, animals and humans: starting up micro credit schemes, encouraging sustainable forest management, cultivating shade-grown organic coffee are but few extraordinary examples of the major achievements. In addition, Dr. Jane Goodall has always had a profound hope in the new younger generations. Today her global Roots and Shoots program has spread in more than 100 countries with about 600 different groups of young people doing something with environment, animals and people. You or your children can also start a group and the JGI-Belgium can help you with it.
Sunbeams will help to promote the JGI in general by selling their merchandise (see Presents) at our events (they can be ordered beforehand). We will help to promote the Roots and Shoots Program, by spreading the word through our website, our info packages and our future e-newsletter, by inviting speakers of the JGI-Belgium, and by connecting people. We will also let you know when Jane Goodall herself has a presentation in Belgium, and everyone who has seen and heard her speak – young and old – will never forget this special moment!! We will also support the JGI-Belgium in the sales of tickets for such occasions. In 2010, the JGI will have its 50 years anniversary and Sunbeams will be supporting JGI-Belgium with the celebrations. The JGI-Belgium will also spread the word on Sunbeams at their events and on their website! For more information please visit: www.janegoodall.org and www.rootsandshoots.org as well as www.janegoodall.be
Sunbeams was featured in the end of year 2008 edition of the JGI newsletter.
If you think you could help us realise our goals or would like to contribute or cooperate in some way please contact us
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
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.
Sunbeams aims to inform, enable and empower individuals to take positive steps towards sustainable lifestyles.
Sunbeams hopes to become:
- the pre-eminent source of sustainable lifestyle information;
- a catalyst for positive change across all levels of society; and
- an inspiration for similar grass roots organizations.
Sunbeams intends to:
- raise awareness of the relationships between lifestyle choices and the environment;
- be a focal point for environmental information and help people to find appropriate environmental services to create and maintain a sustainable lifestyle in Belgium;
- empower individuals to take steps to improve their local and wider environments;
- facilitate the involvement of people from all walks of life in our activities and in their local communities;
- encourage cooperation between different individuals, groups and communities and provide opportunities for them to take coordinated actions; and
- serve as an inspiration and model for individuals to get together and engage in initiatives to improve their environment.
Sunbeams provides a platform to:
- share solutions to promote eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyles;
- exchange ideas and best practice on environmentally sustainable solutions to common problems;
- increase awareness of the central importance of the environment to the global economy.
Sunbeams applies a comprehensive approach to relevant issues and involves individuals and their community, thereby increasing ownership of activities and projects.
Sunbeams is non-political and aims to build bridges across all barriers.
Sunbeams activities include:
Sharing information through
- our website
- a monthly newsletter, distributed by email
- 'getting started' guides for newcomers and students in Belgium
- information packs distributed at, eg fairs, meetings and events
- giving presentations on topics such as energy saving and eco-friendly presents
- conducting hands-on workshops in areas including composting and wildlife sensitive gardens
- attending welcome and environment related fairs
- arranging speeches by experts in environmental matters
Co-operating with other organisations and groups in order to develop partnerships and achieve more than we could by operating alone. This includes sharing information, conducting joint events and selling merchandise on each others' behalf.
In March 2010 sunbeams held its first annual tree planting event which resulted in the planting of over 2,000 trees by more than 500 people in a single day. The event brought together individuals and groups from a wide range of Belgian and international organisations and will serve as a model for future co-operation on environmental matters.
In April 2010, sunbeams was registered as a not for profit organisation (ASBL / VZW) in Belgium.
We are looking for volunteers who share the same passion and interest: people who care for the environment and our planet. If you have some time, dedication and maybe some special skills to offer, please do not hesitate. We will need people to take care of:
IT issues, including website
events: organise and/or host
Answer questions coming in
start a co-operative buying group
help expats dealing with local authorities
notes for potential volunteers
It is our legal obligation to provide all volunteers with the following information:
- Sunbeams is registered as a non-profit organization "vzw/asbl".
- Our Mission and Goals are legally registered and you can read them here.
- We have insurance covering volunteers participating at our events and fairs.
- We do reimburse costs incurred for Sunbeams, but only on the basis of authorization from the President or one of the two co-founders. All official receipts need to be given to one of the above mentioned people before any refunds can be made. For the time being transport costs cannot be refunded.
- There is an obligation on all volunteers to be discrete and not divulge any personal information (on beliefs, family situations, health etc) concerning any other volunteers working with/for Sunbeams.
Ilke Pedersen-Beyst, President of Sunbeams