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...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Getting to Grips with Some 2013 Communications Challenges

Monday's Sustainability Communications Lunch was an enthusiastic debate on the participants’ communications highlights from 2012 and goals for 2013.  The group is made up of communicators from businesses, trade associations and NGOs working on sustainability-related issues.  So what did we learn? 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

It’s the Fuel Economy, Stupid!

Source: Volkswagen

A breakfast debate hosted this week by Green Party MEP Carl Schlyter with NGO Transport and Environment made the business case for stricter van CO2 and fuel efficiency standards.

As oil prices rise, fuel has become a significant business cost but it is also a significant environmental cost.  According to a Transport and Environment Position Paper, “Vans are one of the fastest growing sources of transport CO2 emissions, increasing by 26% between 1995 and 2010 and now accounting for 8% of EU’s total road transport emissions.”  Parcel services, most of which use LCVS (Light Commercial Vehicles) - vans - are estimated to grow by 6% until 2020 due to the rise in e-commerce.  Taking these two factors into consideration, it makes good business sense for a business to invest in a fuel-efficient van, at least on a long-term basis. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Time for a (Sustainability) Revolution?

Tony Juniper’s new book ‘What has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow On Trees’ was launched this week.  Juniper, a leading figure in the UK environmental movement for many years, has written a number of books on environmental issues so we’re looking forward to reading the book and adding it to our growing library of inspiring sustainability reads.  ‘What has Nature Ever Done for Us?’ is of course a play on the excellent Monty Python sketch ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Five Companies Using Social Media for Sustainability

Good sustainability calls for stakeholder engagement and what better way to engage with your customers, suppliers, competitors and fans than through social media.  I was asked at a conference recently which companies are getting it right and I actually found it hard to answer.  I don’t have one clear case study in mind.  It seems like companies are doing video really well but social media still seems more challenging to get right. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Five Eco Trends to Watch

  1.  Shwopping and swishing  Saving unwanted or last season’s clothes from landfill by organising clothes swapping parties has been around for a while but we’re seeing swishing or shwopping parties cropping up more widely.

  2.  Food banks  The sad state of the economy means that more people are in need of assistance.  Expect to see more food banks across Europe.

  3.  Kitchen composting  Not everyone has room for a compost bin or wormery outside so indoor composting units are a way of dealing with compostable waste like vegetable scraps, tea and coffee leftovers.

4.    Vertical agriculture  This is an exciting concept where high-rise buildings in the heart of cities are used for growing food.

5.    Community gardens  A growing movement in the States and Europe, community gardens are a way of bridging social divides in the community, teaching kids where food comes from and encouraging the consumption of local food.  We wish there was one on every corner!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Five Top Sustainability Reports

There are lots of awards out there already so with no particular criteria, here are some sustainability reports we like.

   1.    Nike does a great job of reporting on its impacts.

  2.  The Sustainable Printer  SME winner of last year’s Belgian Sustainability Report Awards, De Duurzaame Drukker does great work.

3.    Unilever  Part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever’s sustainability report presents progress towards their ambitious goals.

4.    Marks & Spencer  The British retailer’s Plan A gets plenty of headlines for pushing the boundaries in sustainability and their ‘How we do business’ report is no exception.

5.    The Stonyfield Yoghurt story is inspiring and their Roadmap for Green Business webpages set out objectives for reducing their impacts.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Five Eco Travel Destinations

Source: Forbes

1.    De Panne  Sea, beach, nature reserve and all just an hour and a half from Brussels.
2.    Tree Houses We want to go!
3.    Vlieland Visitors are not even allowed to take their cars on the ferry.
4.    Vacances ecologiques Ardennes La Clef Verte is a green certification label for accommodation.
5.    Bike Routes This site shares cycle routes including in Belgium.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Five Environmental News Websites

There’s plenty of good quality environment news out there thankfully.  These are some of our favourites.

  1.    Grist
  2.    MNN and treehugger announced in November that they would join forces.  Triple Pundit has the story.
  3.    Triple Pundit
  4.    The Ecologist
  5.    ENN

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Five NGO Campaigns Targeting Big Brands

Source: Greenpeace
The relationship between NGOs and business will always be a controversial topic as industry may feel NGOs don’t always play fair but there are some really classic case studies where NGO campaigning has brought about change more quickly.  We’ve also seen counter campaigns where industry hits back.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Five Natural Food Blogs

    1.    Eat like a girl is the very charming blog of Irish food writer Niamh (pronounced Neeve) Shields.  Her book Comfort & Spice is also delightful.

   2.  101 Cookbooks blogs about healthy recipes with lots of beautiful photos.

  3. Katy Whole Foodie  A shameless plug for Kathryn’s fairly infrequent whole foods blog featuring natural, local ingredients and rather a lot of brown rice.

4.    Kris Carr’s vegan blog is heart of what she calls “the Craxy Sexy Wellness revolution”.

5.    The Kind Life blog and book by Alicia Silverstone give a good insight into vegan cooking and encourage you to try a few vegan dishes even if you don’t want to commit fully to the vegan lifestyle.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Five Winter Outdoor Activities

Getting outdoors in winter is good for the soul.  The peace and quiet and vast expanses of nature all around.  Downhill skiing is fun but getting away from the crowds out in the backcountry is one of the best things you can do on a chilly day.  On on any day.  Just make sure you are properly-equipped and know basic safety measures and first aid.  We’ve linked to some great articles and resources from US cooperative REI.

1.    Hiking
3.    Snowshoeing
4.    Nordic walking
5.    Outdoor swimming

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Five Winter Veggies

Eating local food in season is a good way to support local farmers and eat as nature intended.  Stocking up on local veggies is also a less expensive way to feed your tribe.

1. Celeriac – Also known as celery root (because that’s what it is), celeriac can be made into thick sweet soups or pureed with potato for a more elegant mash.

2. Broccoli – You know it’s important to eat your greens and broccoli is an easy one.  Lightly steamed or stir fried with soy and a little chilli, this is one versatile brassica.

3. Onions – Love ‘em or hate ‘em, onions are at the base of many a recipe.  In winter, sweat them to bring out the sweetness or make onion soup.

4. Kale – One of our New Year’s resolutions is to try making kale chips.  It does sound weird but the vegan guys seem to be onto a winner here.  Just rub kale with oil and salt and bake in the oven.  If you don’t believe us, check out a recipe.

5. Cabbage – So versatile, use cabbage in salad, pickles, coleslaw, stir fried or just lightly steamed with butter and black pepper.  You can even make real sauerkraut by fermenting cabbage.  The oracle on fermentation is Sandor Ellix Katz.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Five Everyday Eco Challenges

Some parts of trying to live more sustainably are more challenging than others.  These are some of the issues we’re facing down in the everyday.

  1.    Avoiding food waste – Too much food is wasted worldwide and although we consume local, healthy food as much as possible, there are still times when you end up skipping meals or going out for dinner and the food sits sadly in the back of the fridge, ending up in the compost, or even worse, in the landfill.

2.    Not driving in the city – When the weather is bad, you’re running late or you’re not going far, it can be tempting sometimes to jump in the car instead of using public transport or going on foot or by bike.  We reimburse our Team for commuting to work by bike to encourage more sustainable transport practices.  We find they don’t actually need to be encouraged though.

3.    Educating your community and household – This is a tricky one – finding the right balance between raising awareness and preaching.  Yet we live and work in a community.  So how can we engage at local level and make a difference?

4.    Washing at low temperatures – This is a personal struggle for some of us.  You’re convinced that a quick wash at 30 degrees with eco laundry detergent does the job perfectly well but the people you share your space with (they know who they are!) think that at least two hours at 40 degrees and biological wash powder is necessary.

5.    Reducing unnecessary packaging – When you shop at the farmers’ market, there is usually very little packaging but if your working hours or preferences lead you to the supermarket on a weekly basis, it’s hard to get away without excessive packaging.  We understand why it’s used as it prolongs the shelf life of foods but you can choose products where the packaging can be recycled, bearing in mind that in Brussels plastic film and polystyrene cannot be recycled.  Catch up, Brussels please…

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Five Brussels NGO Figures to Watch

Source: Delhi Help

 1.   Tomas Wyns, Centre for Clean Air Policy (Europe) Formerly with Climate Action Network Europe, Tomas is one of the leading EU policy figures on industrial emissions reduction.

 2. Julian Ferguson, Communications Officer at European Cyclists' Federation, Enthusiastic, effervescent and ebullient, this Australian has helped put ECF on the map.  The guest speaker at a recent Sustainability Communications Lunch, Julian is one to watch on sustainable mobility.

 3.  Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, The Prince of Wales EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change.  Sandrine is also on the Advisory Panel of our favourite Guardian Sustainable Business site.

 4. Stefan Scheuer, Consultant  Stefan followed working in NGOs with founding his own consultancy Stefan Scheuer SPRL where he applies his expertise in policy and campaigning to a number of NGO issues.

5.   Pieter de Pous, Policy Director, European Environmental Bureau  Thanks to a former EEB staffer for this recommendation.  The EEB is the extremely well-respected environment policy NGO in Brussels.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Five Inspiring Sustainability Videos

If the holiday season makes you want to curl up on the couch and watch movies, these five TED talks may provide a welcome break from the classics.  We also recommend keeping an eye on work from UK firm Nice & Serious.  Having met these guys recently in London, we think they’re doing great work.

  1.    Isabel Allende: “Tales of passion
  3.    Zoe Laughlin “The Performativity of Matter” 
  4.    Yasaman Sheri “Design of Living Things
  5.    Susan Lim on “Transplant cells, not organs”