As you perhaps have already seen or heard, my name is Babette van den Berg and I will be the Sustainability Officer of POLIS this year :)
I feel like almost everyone can feel a certain pressure to become more aware about the environment and be thoughtful about what (not) to do/eat/buy/etc. While we as individuals only have limited influence, there are many little things we can do to make the world a bit greener. As the Sustainability Officer, I will help POLIS and its members with becoming more sustainable. One of my tasks is to brainstorm with committees and come up with concrete ideas on how they can make their events as sustainable as possible. In order to broaden my knowledge and to execute my function to the best of my abilities, I will follow a course from the United Nations about sustainability.
Additionally, I will update this column on the POLIS sustainability page regularly. With this column, I will write about various subjects regarding sustainability. This column will entail sustainability tips and tricks we can incorporate in our everyday lives, like useful apps or instagram pages. In addition, I will write about veggie or vegan seasonal recipes, reviews of books and series/movies or my own experiences with trying to become more sustainable.
I hope you’ll have a look at this page once in a while and maybe even learn something or get inspired yourself!
Lots of love, Babette
For my first ‘real’ blog, I wanted to write a bit about some sustainable practices I have encountered in the last few weeks. Perhaps some of you noticed, but from the 31st of October to the 6th of November it was the National Climate Week in the Netherlands. During this week, special attention was given to what everybody, such as companies, citizens and the government, can do to reduce their CO2 footprint. People could sign up as ‘Klimaat Burgemeester’ (Climate Mayor) or ‘Klimaat Supporter’ (Climate Supporter). As such they got the opportunity to ask questions to and have a conversation with Rob Jetten, the Dutch Minister of Climate and Energy. During the week, several events were held all over the Netherlands with the aim to inform and inspire people to reduce their CO2 footprint and help the environment.
Something particular that stood out to me during this week was a Dutch article written by ‘de Volkskrant’. While most articles praised the Climate Week, the Volkskrant was very critical. They gave some very interesting insights into how Climate Week might not be as progressive or good as we might think of it to be. I will not summarize the whole article, but if you want to read it, you can click on the link below! The main point the author made was that weeks like this turn global crises, i.e. wicked problems, into some sort of ‘temporary’ charity goals. These cannot and do not stress the real urgency of the situation. The National Climate Week will end, but climate change will remain. Should we not care about the climate every week of the year? Maybe some food for thought, and definitely worth a look!
Something else that stood out to me in the last couple of weeks was here in Tilburg at the LocHal. The LocHal currently has two expositions that focus on sustainability, namely the “Stadkas013” and “Expositie Stad = Natuur”. Stadskas013 is a little green oasis on the third floor of the building. It is mostly about what inhabitants of Tilburg can do themselves to create a greener city, house, garden or street. There is information about composting, circularity and food for example. I think it is easy to implement some of these recommendations into your own life. The exposition City = Nature concerns the balance between people and nature, but from an artist and architect perspective. If you happen to be at the LocHal, I would definitely advise you to take a look! The Stadskas013 will be there until the 31st of December and Stad = Natuur will be there until the 20th of November.
Until next time!
Lots of love, Babette
Firstly, of course, Happy New Year!
The new year often comes with New Year's Resolutions. As the Sustainability Officer, I want everyone to be as sustainable as possible in 2023. However, New Year’s Resolutions can be a little difficult to adapt to. Especially, resolutions regarding sustainability, since these can be expensive and most students are limited in what they can do. Therefore, I did some research and picked two student-friendly tips on how to live more sustainably, which can (hopefully) be easily adapted to your daily schedule.
I think we all know the basic “lower the temperature of your heating system”, “try to eat more plant-based products” and “shower for a shorter amount of time”. While these are of course also very important/useful tips, I don’t think I’ll need to explain these further.
The first tip that I found is to shop more locally and more seasonally. This has many benefits to the environment, to the local community, to your health, and to your wallet. There is not necessarily an exact definition of “local”, but a good starting point could be to buy products that mostly originate from Europe. Shopping locally also often includes shopping seasonally. The benefits of this are that products do not need to be flown over from another continent, or that they do not need many extra chemicals or energy to be produced (like heating in greenhouses). A nice bonus is that local and seasonal products tend to be cheaper.
Tilburg has quite a few markets where you can buy vegetables, cheese, bread, and many other things. I listed them down below. They are definitely worth checking out!
Wednesday: 09:00 - 12:00 Besterdplein
Thursday: 09:00 - 12:00 Westermarkt
13:00 - 17:00 Shoppingmall Heyhoef (ReesHof)
Friday 09:00 - 12:00 Koningsplein
11:00 - 17:00 Wagnerplein
Saturday 10:00 - 16:30 Koningsplein
My second tip for 2023 is to start voting in the elections, if you don’t do so already. With your vote, you can influence the decisions of the government that concern the environment. In 2023, Dutch citizens can vote for the Provinciale Staten (provincial states) and the Waterschapsverkiezingen (water boards/water authorities; they take care of water management in the Netherlands). Both the Provinciale Staten and the Waterschappen play an important role in matters such as the energy transition. Provinces are often responsible for setting up windmill parks, solar panel parks and providing subsidies. The provincial states are also the main authorities that execute policies regarding nitrogen, and are thus important for the nitrogen crisis that is currently going on in the Netherlands. The Waterschappen play a role in the energy transition as they own the ground on which windmills can be placed (for example in the sea). The role of the Waterschappen in water management also becomes increasingly important due to the rising sea levels and more extreme weather.
It’s also important to note that every election is important! For now, I just focused on the ones in the Netherlands in 2023, but it’s relevant to all elections in all countries.
These are my tips for 2023, I hope they were helpful!!
Until next time,
For this blog, I wanted to tell you about a book I read a while ago. The book, from Kathrin Hartmann, is called “Die Grüne Lüge”. I have read it in Dutch, called “Groene Leugens: duurzaamheid als verkooptruc”. The author, Kathrin Hartmann, travels across the world, together with producer Werner Boote, to investigate the differences between what companies or industries say they do, and what they actually do. Unfortunately for non-Dutch and non-German readers, I do not think the book is published in English.
Sustainability and sustainable products have become more and more popular over the years. Who doesn’t want to do good for the environment? While most people have good intentions, it isn’t always as simple as it looks. Big companies such as BP (now Beyond Petroleum, but formerly British Petroleum) and Nespresso love to show people all the things they do to help the people and the planet. In reality, they are doing the exact opposite. For example, a trend that has been growing in the past few years is clothing made from plastic that comes out of the sea. While the idea seems nice and with good intentions, this is a little different in reality. Sea-plastic in itself is insufficient to produce a decent piece of clothing, and thus new plastic is added, which rejects the point of the entire product. Additionally, these pieces of clothing are often fast fashion and will thus end up in landfill or in the ocean again. Simply put, these clothing producers are trying to solve a problem that they create themselves!
The book consists of seven chapters, and each chapter is focused on a different case. Besides the aforementioned clothing industry, Hartmann writes about many other subjects. Subjects such as the oil spill at Deepwater Horizon in 2010, Nespresso with George Clooney as their frontman, the palm-oil industry, the meat industry, and even how governments support non-sustainable businesses. I will not go into detail about each case, but one thing that stood out to me is the hypocrisy in so many industries that I never even thought about. For example, labels such as “certified sustainable palm oil” are often given to products whilst they do not even meet all the criteria. The question also arises: if sustainable palm oil even exists? Spoiler alert, the answer is no.
Governments and big businesses love to support the idea of “sustainable” economic growth, but growth can never be sustainable. Growth in itself is always linked with the consumption resources, and how innovative it may be. In addition, these resources cannot be obtained without destroying nature.
Hartmann also points out the consumers and the role they play. Consumers often want to keep consuming, preferably more and more, while still trying to be good for people and the planet. A fun bridge to psychology: this is a nice example of cognitive dissonance. Consumers are often aware of how messed up, for example, the meat or clothing industry is, but still want to eat meat and buy many new clothes. These green lies provide the perfect solution: consumers can keep consuming and not destroy the planet! If only it was this simple...
This book was published in 2018. Something to perhaps think about is how the actions and findings in the book could be seen since the COVID pandemic.
I will bring the book to the POLIS room, so if people want to read it, you can get it there!
See you at the PK,
The second column on this page will tell you more about the sustainability event, organized by the Community Committee, that took place a while back.
The CommuniCie wanted to organize an event where you first learned something and finished with a fun activity. We looked into a few things and we landed on a very interesting workshop by Brandy. Brandy is a very sweet lady that taught us about the different ways to shop with a lower carbon dioxide transmission.
After that, we recycled glass wine bottles by making them into self watering systems for your plants! You can see an example in the pictures. It was fun to do but also a bit scary, because there was a loud pop and the glass could break. No one wanted to wear our pretty safety glasses or oven mitts as protection, luckily everybody still has both eyes!
It was a great afternoon and we are excited for next year's sustainability event!