We don’t want to be preachy or boring but this blog is where we share our values and experiences and write about the issues shaping the future of our businesses and our society. Catch a glimpse into our lives and find out what’s new in our world...

Monday, 31 December 2012

Five Sustainability Resolutions

It’s that time of year again.  Time for some New Year’s resolutions.  Might as well make them about sustainability rather than ice cream.  Here are some ideas:

  1.   Fly and drive less – Take the train and holiday locally to reduce your air and car miles.

  2.   Bike and walk more – Travel short distances by public transport or on foot rather than driving.

  3.  Buy less – Do we need all the stuff we buy?  Without abandoning the economy completely, commit to buying less and choosing quality products that will last longer.  Support local shops and always take a shopping bag.

  4. Donate or swap clothes – Rather than having wardrobes (or storage boxes) full of stuff that doesn’t fit or you don’t wear, host a swapping party with friends.  If your past fashion choices are too much of an embarrassment, donate to a second-hand store.  One woman’s rubbish is another woman’s treasure.

  5.  Reduce water consumption – Shorter showers, setting the dishwasher and washing machine on economy and using the right size of cooking pan all help reduce water use in the home.  If your toilets are still of the single flush variety, they can be changed to dual flush.  Or put a brick or a water bottle in the cistern.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Five Winter-Warming Soups

Mmmm, soup.  At Sustainability Consult, we have regular Soup Days where we have homemade soup together at lunchtime.  Here are some recipes, although we tend to make it up as we go along.

1.    Curried cauliflower  A wholesone winter veggie turned into a warm thick soup
2.    Caldo verde  The traditional Portuguese cabbage soup
3.    Fassolatha  White bean soup, a traditional Greek recipe
4.    Carrot and coriander  Another way to transform inexpensive local winter veggies
5.    Chicken Soup Avgolemono  Greek egg and lemon chicken soup

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Five Non-Profit Sports Associations

Source: Buwh

Joining an expensive gym is not the only option for keeping fit in the city, particularly when you look at the amount of energy and water gyms use.  These non-profit organisations offer sports at affordable prices and with a healthy dose of community thrown in.  Brussels magazine The Bulletin wrote a piece where Ana Catarino’s favourite Friskis took the top slot.

1.    Friskis&Svettis
2.    Fitnesspalace
4.   DOS Woluwe  DOS Woluwe is a torball club.  ‘Torball’ is a ball sport for the blind and visually-impaired people.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Our Five Favourite Bio Shops in Brussels

Source: Label Green

Brussels is known for offering a good life to foodies and organic foodies are no exception.  There is a wealth of great health food and organic shops in Brussels.  These are some of our favourites:

1)    Label Green
2)    Tan
3)    Shanti
4)    Be Positive
5)    The ‘bio stall’ on the Place Chatelain Wednesday market 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Five European 1% for the Planet Companies

Source: One Percent for the Planet  
1.    Sustainability Consult  Oh, shameful plug, but there you have it.  We are so happy to have become a member of 1% for the Planet in 2012.  We even mention it in our 2012 in Review video.  We are member no 2698.

2.    Lazer Sport  Making high-performance bike and ski helmets, this Belgian company has been in business since 1919 and became a member of 1% at the same time as us – January 2012.  Lazer is member no 2673.

3.    Green Tulip A 1% member since 2008, UK company Green Tulip makes ethical gifts. Green Tulip is member no 1150.

4.    Borea Adventures   This company is right up our street, metaphorically speaking.  They organise adventure holidays in Iceland.  Borea is member no 1829.

5.    SavetheC This very cool Finnish company is making bags from old sails.  They are member no 2792.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Five Ways with Christmas Leftovers

Source Askamum

All that food was so yummy but you don’t want to waste any of it.

1.    Turkey sandwiches  Simple, yes but a tasty way to ‘waste not, want not’.
2.    Tortilla  This idea came from the Portuguese part of the Team.  Use cooked potatoes to make a Spanish omelette.
3.    Bubble and squeak  The English classic way to reuse cooked veg and potatoes is to fry them up.
4.    Hash  The American version of bubble and squeak.
5.    Soup  If in doubt, throw it all in the stock pot.  We’ll post more on winter soups in a few days. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Five Sustainability Courses

In case your Christmas present to yourself is to invest in your personal development, here are some sustainability courses that might fit the bill.  Merry Christmas!

  1.    University of Cambridge Masters in Sustainability Leadership
  2.    One Planet Leaders 
  3.    The Natural Step
  4.    Two Tomorrows

Monday, 24 December 2012

Five Leading Sustainability Journalists

Five of the most influential writers on environment and sustainability issues worldwide.

   1.    Fiona Harvey, The Guardian
   2.    Toby Webb, Ethical Corporation
   3.    James Murray, Business Green
   4.    Joel Makower, GreenBiz
   5.    Francois Le Goff, ENDS Europe

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Five Natural Treats

  1.  Ginger tea Ginger is so good for you and really warming in the winter or when you feel under the weather.  Just slice up some ginger root and add hot water.  Breathe in all that delicious ‘gingeriness’.

 2. NewTree chocolate This Belgian chocolate producer is taking the US market by storm with its range of chocolate, cookies and spreads.  If ever you wanted to claim chocolate is good for you, NewTree will help you with products that contain less fat, more fibre, added goodness and are certified organic.  And if that’s not enough, NewTree has a beautiful website with really stunning photos.

3.    Green juice Kathryn is allergic to fructose (the sugar in fruit) so she’s a big fan of green juice.  Admittedly, the rest of the Team still needs some convincing.  Juice cucumber, celery, parsley and fennel with a big hunk of root ginger and prepare to cleanse!

4.    Raw almonds A superfood and super healthy snack, and while raw almonds are healthier than the toasted and salted variety, we like to think that they’re all better than many conventional snacks.

5.    Seaweed salad Not just for eating in Japanese restaurants, a wide range of dried seaweed is available in health food stores.  The challenge is to get the right balance of sweet, sour, spicy and salty in the dressing.  We could really eat this every day.  Read more about seaweed

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Five Tips for More Sustainable Gifts

Source: Greatgreenbe Wordpress

The holiday season involves a certain amount of consumption but you can enjoy the festivities without going overboard or being Scrooge-like.  Christmas gifts need not be throwaway junk transported halfway round the world.  Choosing ethical or local handmade gifts over mass-produced rubbish works for the gift-giver, receiver and the wider community.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Our Five Favourite Ethical Brands

Source: MuMu organic
  1. Patagonia A firm favourite with outdoor types, Patagonia also wins the hearts and minds of non-outdoorsy environmentalists.  With campaigns like Don’t Buy This Jacket and a commitment to repair clothing though the Common Threads Initiative, this company leads the field in sustainable business.  Patagonia is still privately-owned by Yvon Chouinard whose book ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ we mentioned in our ‘Five Inspiring Sustainability Reads’ post.  Yvon is co-founder of 1% for the Planet, which Sustainability Consult is a proud member of.  And Kathryn certainly wouldn’t set foot on the mountain without her Patagonia Backcountry Guide Pants.

  2.  Oxfam A brand, you say?  Surely Oxfam is a development NGO not a retail brand?  And yet in some countries, for example the UK where Oxfam was set up in 1942 as the Oxfam Committee for Famine Relief, Oxfam has built up its retail operations and has not just second-hand clothing and bookshops but their own brand of fairtrade and ethical products.  You can even ‘buy’ a goat, a chicken, clean water or renewable energy through the amazing Oxfam Unwrapped products.  In Belgium, Oxfam organises fairtrade breakfasts (check out our photos from 2011 and 2012) and promotes both local agriculture and fairtrade.  They also have a policy division who we’ve worked with in the past.

3.    MuMu organic MuMu organic is an up and coming ethical fashion company from Greece who we have been helping on their start-up path.  Truly breathtaking designs with natural and fairtrade fabrics, MuMu organic is one to watch.

4.    Ecover Belgian natural cleaning products company, Ecover, is the cleaning product of choice for the Sustainability Consult office where we can’t resist taglines like ‘Feel Good Cleaning’.  Our favourite products are the floor soap with linseed oil, the lavender handwash and the loo cleaner.  They all smell good enough to eat, not that we recommend it, and they come in large refill sizes. We’re waiting to see what their ‘Small Steps’ environmental campaign will look like.

5.   Triodos  Rethinking banking, Triodos invests ethically and offers a full range of banking services.  They have a great one-minute video on how they do things differently.  You can also see where they will invest your hard-earned cash.  With banking services in a number of countries, now ethical banking is within reach.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Five Top Sustainability Speakers

  1.  Al Gore Former Vice President in the Clinton Administration, Al Gore helped bring climate change to the forefront of our minds with his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth.  The film won an Oscar and Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

  2.    David Cook Executive Ambassador of The Natural Step, Briton David Cook was Chief Executive of the organisation until 2009.  Companies who have used The Natural Step methodology to understand their impact speak highly of the process and Cook is certainly a no-nonsense, straight talker who manages to challenge and inspire industry.

3.  John Elkington Founder of our favourite news service Environmental News Daily Service (ENDS) and a raft of other environment and sustainability businesses, John Elkington is one of the UK’s top sustainability speakers.  Elkington has published a series of books on sustainability and originated the term triple bottom line.

4.  Annie Leonard Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute animation which aims to shed light on the wastefulness of our consumer society.  She also blogs for Patagonia.  Check our her recent piece on the holiday season.

5.  Philippe Van Parijs Perhaps less well-known internationally, Professor Van Parijs is Belgium’s homegrown ethical champion.  Professor of ethics at the University of Louvain, Sustainability Consult’s Aris Koutentakis was so impressed by a presentation given by the bearded academic, he blogged on it on our Thoughtshower blog.