How Your Old Phone is Polluting Nigeria

Have you ever wondered what has happened to your old phone? Is it in some drawer, did you exchange it for a newer model or did it end up on a landfill in a developing country? This last scenario is very likely because it is cheaper to transport our e-waste to developing countries than recycle it ourselves. This was one the confronting facts shared by Chimere Ohajinwa, a public health specialist, during Green Office’s first lunch lecture.


The e-waste lunch-lecture, December 11th, 2017.

Research in Nigeria

Ohajinwa’s talk was centred on the topic of e-waste, an issue she has spent much time researching and reporting on. E-waste is short for electronic waste and includes any discarded household devices, phones, laptops etc. For her PhD research at Leiden University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ohajinwa travelled to three different locations in Nigeria to conduct tests on the level of environmental pollution on and around e-waste processing sites. Her results leave little doubt: action has to be taken for the sake of the environment and workers’ health.

Valuable e-waste

E-waste recycling is the most expensive type of recycling compared to, for example, paper or plastics. This makes it unattractive for governments to invest in sufficient collecting and processing infrastructure. “In developed countries it is more expensive to repair our old phone than to buy a new one. In developing countries the opposite is true.” This leads to large-scale informal collection and unregulated processing in developing countries, where for example useless devices are burned to extract valuable metals and minerals.


 Source: Al Jazeera News

Workers’ health

Processing e-waste in unprotected ways leads to soil contamination and exposes workers to serious health issues. In many developing countries workers, including pregnant women and children, work on the processing of e-waste without special protection gear such as gloves and masks. The effects of breathing in and touching certain chemicals during the process of extracting the valuable metals and minerals can manifest years later, for example through respiratory problems or cancer. Ohajinwa emphasises the lack of awareness amongst workers. “When I ask workers if they have suffered any occupational injuries they think of cuts and blood. They don’t link the growth of cancer twenty years down the line to their current jobs.” This means that workers won’t demand special protection gear. However, Ohajinwa emphasises, a radical improvement of the situation doesn’t lie solely with the workers. “For them it is about getting on day to day.” The ones having to take responsibility are consumers in the West. We have to make demands for better regulation of where our e-waste ends up.


 Source: Al Jazeera News

Governmental action

One of the solutions Ohajinwa sees to this issue is to have more effective enforcement of imports and exports legislation. “The e-waste business works as a cartel involing some illegal trades” Ohajinwa explains. For every 25% of useful e-waste, businesses in developing countries are also forced to take 75% old electronic devices that are useless to them. If there would be fairer trade deals these businesses would be more profitable and could provide better circumstances for their workers. Nonetheless, she also thinks more awareness should be raised amongst the workers to demand special protective gear and better work circumstances. However 66% of Africa’s economy is informal, with similar values across Asia. The e-waste industry in developing countries is largely unregulated, which makes effective governmental enforcement very hard.


 Source: Al Jazeera News

Join the E-Waste campaign!

If you want to recycle responsibly, join the Green Office’s Funky Phone Challenge.
On the 15th of January the Green Office will place an E-Waste Arcade at Lipsius. This is an old-fashioned game arcade, that collects mobile phones in exchange for an interactive game! All the collected e-waste will be recycled responsibly by E-Waste Arcades.


The E-waste arcade: let’s make recycling fun!

If you are interested in finding out more about this challenge, join the Green Office for the second Lunch-Lecture by Timmy de Vos, co-organizer of the Funky Phone Challenge, on January 15th from 13:00 – 14:30 at Plexus Spectruumzaal.

See you there (and bring those old phones from your homes)!

Let’s talk about Veganism!

Authors: Kirsten Steunenberg and Aleksandra Jovanovic

In the blog Reflections on the  LUGO Challenge – What is veganism?, we introduced our readers to the concept of veganism and its effects on our environment. But, what is it like to be vegan?  LUGO has interviewed two students from our university that were more than happy to tell us more about their personal lifestyle and what triggered them to become vegan or try the plant-based diet out. Let’s talk about veganism!

 

For how long have you been vegan and what spurred you to become Vegan?

Saskia: I have been vegan for 2,5 years now.  I have always been busy with topics such as nature, climate change and environmental preservation. However, there was one moment in my life that has changed my personal lifestyle.
During a holiday, my friend and I were driving to the beach with the car, the air conditioning on its maximum level At one point, we started to have a discussion global environmental issues, and that we should think of how to change the current situation on an individual level. However, I realized that what we were doing at that moment (driving the car, full on airco) was everything but sustainable.
This situation triggered me to do some research on how to decrease my ecological impact on the environment. This soon brought me to the topic of veganism. I got super into it and I decided to try the vegan lifestyle.

Do you miss certain things in your diet?

……………..
….

Saskia: Well, I am a big cake lover… If I have lunch with a friend, we usually share a nice cake together. So, that’s something that I am finding difficult as a vegan, as sometimes there are no vegan options. However, I always try to bring my friends to places that are vegan-friendly and offer many alternatives for me as a cake lover! There are so many vegan lunchrooms these days, but this does need some prior research.

How do you substitute the things that you miss?

Saskia: When I first started reading about veganism, my first reaction was: No way … How can I replace my daily yogurt with muesli and fruits. I am so used to this, I can’t do this!
Yet, I soon realized that I can substitute my dairy breakfast with many plant-based options. For breakfast, I love to have fruit smoothies with almond milk. Or… oatmeal!


Breakfast time! Oatmeal with oatmilk, cinnamon, fruits, dates and goji berries…

Also, I have always been a cheese lover, but I sometimes treat myself with vegan cheese from organic supermarkets. Also ‘edelgistvlokken’ (nutrional yeast) is a good substitute for grated parmesan cheese for pasta dishes. So, there are replacements for everything these days!


Vegan Pasta Pesto: one of my favorite dishes.

 

Sometimes people can be quite negative and ‘joky’ about vegans. How do you deal with this?

Saskia: I think that this negativity around the word ‘vegan’ mainly comes forth
from human ignorance. Some people are just not aware of what veganism entails and think in a very simplistic manner. ‘Oh, vegans just eat carrots and cabbage. They are not getting enough proteins…’. These just some stereotypical examples.
One of the most negative personal experiences was during a day of work at a beach restaurant I have been working at.  A man came to pay his bill and said that he really enjoyed his piece of bavette (steak). He asked me whether I have ever tried one. I answered him that I do not eat meat, so that I have not tried it. 
His first reaction: Ridiculous! ‘These cows are slaughtered anyway… and soybean plantations are super bad for the environment’. At that point I thought to myself ‘Yes, but the majority of these beans are fed to the cattle…’. But, I had to hold myself from getting into that discussion.
Even though I felt quite mad inside, I thanked him for his feedback and wished him a pleasant day thinking ‘I chose to be vegan for myself, not for others, and I do not I do not work here to impose on others what they should and should not eat, I rather give them more options to choose from’.

Do you have some last words that you want to share with your reader?

Saskia:
When you start to eat more plant-based food, do not force yourself to give up everything non-vegan all at once. Do try to focus on the things that you can eat. There are so many vegan options that will only let you discover new tasty things and experiment with that! Also, sometimes it is okay to choose a  middleway. Especially in the beginning of a vegan challenge: you do not have to be full-on vegan. It’s already a great thing if you are vegan for a couple of days a week.

I think the most important thing is to stay conscious about what you are consuming and where it comes from. That consciousness is very meaningful, and from there you can make your own personal choices that will have a more positive impact on the environment.
Broaden your food horizon with creative alternatives!

 


How did you hear about the LUGO Vegan Challenge?

Vera: I heard about Leiden University Green Office for the first time at an information market from the University. LUGO had a stand over there to inform students about their activities and tell their goals. This made me enthusiastic and I decided to like LUGO on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their activities.
So, Facebook was also the platform where I first heard about the Vegan Challenge. I informed my roommates about the challenge, because I live in a house where we all try to live as sustainable as possible.

 

What was your first reaction?

Vera: At first I was quite enthusiastic, and one of my roommates as well. We decided to participate in the Vegan Challenge together. I have been a vegetarian for about 2,5 years already and I don’t have any issues with this whatsoever. This made me think that eating vegan for a month would be quite easy as well.

What did you eat in the first week of the challenge? How did you feel: stronger, weaker, tired, hungry?

 

Vera: Hummus! *Laughs* Lots of hummus… On top of that, my roommate is a really good cook and she loves to explore the vegan cuisine. She cooked us delicious, creative meals with tofu, tempeh and lots of vegetables. Cooking our own soup also turned out to be really easy and delicious as well.

But, I have to admit that the vegan challenge took place in a really busy period of the year. The exams were coming up and I had some other things to work on as well. Therefore, I didn’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking the delicious vegan meals that are around.

At first I felt really good, although the vegan challenge was harder than expected. As a vegetarian I thought skipping on other animal products would be easy, but some people around me didn’t really get why I wanted to try this and I was struggling more than expected. After two weeks I became sick and I honestly don’t know if this was because of a lack of nutrients. I decided that, with the exams coming up, going back to my old vegetarian diet was a smart choice to make sure that I would feel better soon. After almost three weeks I quit the vegan challenge for that reason… Maybe I didn’t read enough about veganism beforehand to ensure I got all the necessary nutrients or maybe the vegan challenge just happened in a badly timed period for me, I don’t know.

Did you have a moment of weakness?

Vera: My moments of weakness were mainly around social events. My aunt cooked yummy food for her birthday and I felt really bad refusing something, just because there was only some milk in it. Also, eating out with friends was really hard. I found out that there are three types of restaurants: 1. hip and vegan restaurants that serve the best vegan food, 2. ‘in between’ restaurants that know about veganism but struggle to serve something good or don’t have vegan options on their menus and 3. restaurants that are, in my opinion, a bit old-fashioned and don’t serve vegan food and rather see their vegan guests eating somewhere else.


Vegan yummy food at the Vegan Junk Bar, Amsterdam

I experienced the latter unfortunately, when I rang up a restaurant to inquire about their vegan options and they didn’t serve anything good at all. These were some moments when I was struggling with being vegan, because I just wanted to have a nice night out with friends.

 

What is your general experience, will you turn into a vegan?

Vera: I definitely want to know more about veganism and I will stay passionate about sustainability in the future. I think for environmental reasons, veganism is still the best way to go and the vegan challenge didn’t change a thing for me about that. Although the challenge was harder than expected, haha. I will try to cut down on my dairy consumption, but for now I am not going to be a full-on vegan.

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences girls!
🙂 

 

Reflections on the Leiden University Green Office Vegan Challenge – What is veganism?

Last October the Leiden University Green Office took part in the Vegan Challenge: a challenge to eat only plant-based food for a month. This month we will reflect on the vegan challenge with some information and fun facts about veganism and the experiences of the vegan challenge participants and more experienced vegans. This blog will take you through the basics of veganism and will discuss the effects it has on the environment, as well as some useful tips if you are considering to become (partly) vegan yourself!

Tell me more about veganism…

Firstly, what exactly is veganism? Veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”[1] This basically means that a vegan has a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey – as well as products like leather and any products that are tested on animals. This blog will only focus on the diet part of veganism, as this is also what the vegan challenge comes down to.

There are several positive effects often mentioned relating to a vegan diet. Besides preventing animal cruelty and suggested health effects, switching to a vegan diet has a big positive impact on the environment. And this is why.

Since the world population is going to increase from 7 to 10 billion people by 2050, the biggest challenge we are facing now is how we are going to feed all these people. Next to population increase, wealth is increasing and more people are demanding a rich Western diet relying heavily on meat and dairy products. By 2050 we need even more mass food production to feed all these mouths, but the Earth still has a limited area available for food production  (note: the quality and quantity of available agricultural land is declining as well because of desertification, deforestation and other ecological issues caused by global climate change).

Diets consisting of a huge amount of meat and animal products are a waste of these scarce resources: animals consume a lot more protein, water and calories than they produce. So, instead of livestock, many more plants could be grown on the same amount of land.


#veganfunfacts

Therefore a varied vegan diet requires only a third of the land needed for a meat-based Western diet. In addition: 3.5 billion people could eat of the food currently fed to livestock. Quite shocking, isn’t it?

There are so many more positive effects veganism has on the environment, but another fact is that a vegan diet can be hard to adopt; especially for students living with roommates, regularly sharing meals and eating out. To help you out, Leiden University Green Office has looked up some tips for those of you who would like to try a vegan diet!

  1. Feeling hungry is not done

Do not forget that a vegan meal is bigger than a meat and dairy-based meal. Compensate for these ingredients with plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts and grains such as pasta, rice, couscous and quinoa. Oh, some peanut butter can quiet you down as well…


A tasty vegan-proof bowl

  1. Prepare yourself

Prepare yourself when you want to start eating vegan: nothing is as awful as feeling hungry during a busy day at uni. Read about the nutrients you need and inspire yourself with tasty recipes on the internet. You will find loads of new ingredients for your vegan meals!

  1. Be positive and stay positive

Start your vegan challenge positively and see it as something positive you are going to try. Do not get caught up in your own rules or let people around you get you down by mentioning all the things you are not allowed to eat. Focus on learning to love to cook, try new cuisines and explore what works best for you.

Have you participated in the vegan challenge? Or, are you going to try to eat more plant-based foods? Let us know your experiences!

[1] https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism

Food Waste No More – Interview at Instock The Hague.

I have always had a passion for good food, and discovering new places to eat in The Hague. In that sense, I am always looking for the new local hotspots to have my coffee breaks after a day of hard work or/and treat myself with a delightful meal.
If you are you looking for a nice, cosy place to grab a bite in the middle of the city, then Instock The Hague might be worth the visit! Here you can enjoy every bite of your plate with a lovely overlook on the Hofvijver, while consuming sustainable treats. W
in-Win situation!

Currently, there are three local restaurants in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague.
I decided to visit Instock The Hague to find out more about the in’s and out’s of the restaurant and its concept of sustainability in terms of food production and consumption. I was welcomed with open arms, and had the opportunity to interview one of the team members of the Instock family.

Hi! Could you introduce yourself, and tell us why you chose to work for Instock?

Nina: Hi! My name is Nina Graaff, and I am working as the restaurant manager of Instock in the Hague. The reason that I chose to work at Instock is particularly based on my personal belief that no food should go to waste. When I discovered the online open vacancy for the position of restaurant manager, I decided to do more research behind the sustainable values of the company. I discovered that my personal values match with the company’s values. At home, I am very conscious about food waste. However I did discover that working for Instock is not for everyone. It surprises me that still some of my friends throw away their food left-overs. This is weird for me, as I was brought up at home to not waste any food.

So, you are the Restaurant Manager of Instock. Could you tell us about your position and your responsibilities within the company?

Nina: In terms of responsibilities, my main job is to make sure that everything in the Hague goes well in terms of management. At Instock, we work with a big and integrative team. Currently there are above 100 people employed in our three restaurants. We want to stay connected to the other team members and therefore I see the managers of the other restaurants on a weekly basis. During these weekly meetings we discuss how we can improve things. How can we create more awareness about food waste?  How can we reach more people with Instock? In what way can we make our concept even more sustainable?
blog1

It seems like there is good collaboration and communication at Instock! And, what about the promotion of Instock? How do you actively spread awareness about sustainable food consumption and production?

Nina: We believe that awareness about food waste should be raised in a positive, useful and fun way. The Community team, that is responsible for the promotion of Instock, shares tips and tricks on our website about how to reduce food waste at home. This includes yummy recipes and other interesting stories. They fill our social media pages with images of the delicious dishes that our chefs create and share updates about Instock and our mission. We also receive many visits from curious and enthusiastic people coming from different areas of expertise, who want to write about us in their blog or on their website, because they support our moral values. Thus, I soon realized that in terms of publicity, there’s a lot more to it than it seems.

So, does the promotion of Instock happen mostly online or are you also active with face-to-face promotion?

Nina: We are active on social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We have our own website, where we promote upcoming events and blogs. So, we have enough online platforms to promote ourselves and spread the Instock message! However, we are also present at various (food) events with our Instock food truck. This is easy in terms of promotion, because you always have your promotion with you. During these events, we literally serve the food that we rescued that day on the spot. Personally, I also visit other sustainable events in the Hague. So, for example, if there is an event organized by the municipality of the Hague, I am physically present as the ambassador of Instock The Hague.

It sounds like Instock is actively promoting itself with its own message! How would you describe the main message and goal of Instock in two sentences? What makes Instock unique?

Nina: Our mission is to reduce food waste and create awareness of the issue. We take on this challenge quite literally by making delicious meals with products that would otherwise remain unsold.

blog-2

On your website it says that you get unsold products (e.g. fruit and vegetables with an ‘aesthetical error’) from local Albert Heijn’s and other producers. Could you elaborate on the other food producers?

Nina: Yes indeed, we receive a lot of products of the local Abert Heijns that cannot be sold and would have otherwise been thrown away. Another producer could be a local farmer who has a lot of carrots because he had to harvest them, but in the meanwhile could not sell all of them. Also, we have collaborated with Kromkommer, that has gifted several types of vegetables with an ‘aesthetical error’ to Instock.

So, does the majority of your products come from local farmers and smaller companies?  

Nina: No, our products originate mainly from Albert Heijn, and we focus on strengthening this good relationship. At this moment, one of our colleagues is just on her way to pick up some products with our carrier cycle (‘bakfiets’ for the Dutchies). This happens on a daily basis.
Being offered today: crates filled with biological Liefde & Passie bread and various types of cheese. It sometimes does happen that we get some products from other producers and local farmers, but we do not get our main stock from them. Yet, we are always in for new collaborations with local initiatives!

Are the products that you receive from Albert Heijn mainly organic?

Nina: Well, because there is a lot of bread left-over and a lot of different types of bread we have chosen for Liefde&Passie Brood. However, at the same time, we want to keep contributing to our mission: reduce food waste. So, if in this case a product is not necessarily organic, we are fine with that as long as no food goes to waste. But, when we need to buy-in products, which is around 10-20 % of our products, we always choose organic food if possible.

What is your target audience within Instock?

Nina: Well, we have a very broad target audience! The visitors of Instock varies: We have young people visiting that are living a very conscious lifestyle and want to improve the world by having a positive impact on the environment. However, on the other hand, families stop by that want to give a good example to their children. Also, elderly people who have never thrown away any food in their lifes, and some that have experienced a war. So, as these examples show, Instock has a broad and varied target audience… Oh, I have forgotten to mention the most important target group: people who really do not have any idea of the issue of food waste. Our aim is to especially create awareness among them!

Is Instock popular among students and younger adults? On a daily basis, what is the most common age group of your customers?

Nina: Yes, definitely! Many youngsters and students drop by, and are also members of Duko, a discount card for which they receive special discounts at sustainable shops and restaurants in various cities. This includes Instock. So, Duko attracts a lot of students. What you also see at Instock, namely in Amsterdam, are student sororities and study associations that want to organize an event in our restaurant. We have a separate room available for these events, making it an ideal place for drinks and personal gatherings.

I also heard that Instock started to brew its own beer! Could you tell us more about this?

Nina: Yes, true! We have two self-brewed beers: de Pieper Bier en de Bammetjes Bier. These are examples of Instock products that are also very popular and appealing among students. These beers are made from saved potatoes and saved bread. We could call this sustainable drinking!

Nice! So maybe we can organize a LUGO borrel (‘special gathering with drinks’) at Instock in the near future…

Nina: Yes, definitely! Sounds like a nice idea!

Have you already heard about Instock? Or, are you new to this restaurant and its concept, and curious to try some delicious meals here? Either way, we have some good news…
LUGO will be giving away a sustainable price provided by Instock with the PhotoBooth Challenge during the the HOP introduction week in The Hague on August 21 and August 24.

Price?
A delicious three-course dinner for you and three friends at Instock- The Hague!

 

instock-buiten
Source Photography: Aleksandra Jovanovic

Green Heroes: The Law Library employees

Green Heroes: The Law Library employees

On his last day before moving to his new job at Wijnhaven Library, we spoke to Johan IJzerman about the initiative he set up within the Law Library. Johan is a student of Pedagogy at Leiden but also works 19 hours a week as a library employee in multiple of Leiden University’s Libraries. Seeing that the university does not currently recycle any plastic, Johan initiated a system to separate and recycle plastic bottles.

What is the initiative?

In an effort to reduce the plastic waste generated by the Law Library, Johan suggested to install a collection point for staff and students. The separated bottles are recycled by the municipality but not by the university. Once or twice a week the plastic bin is emptied by the employees and brought to the closest plastic recycling station to limit the amount of plastic waste within the regular waste. This initiative keeps the bottles out of the general waste.

Why did it start?

The initiative was started when the Law Library employees talked about waste within the library. They realized that many students brought plastic bottles with them into the study area and left them behind on tables or in the regular waste bins. This could easily be done by providing the possibility to separate plastic and with the help of the students of course. Johan, who generally already cared about sustainability, thinks we have to act now and not wait any longer, because “There is no planet B”. Since as of now the University is not initiating university-wide plastic recycling, he believed that collecting these bottles together with the other library employees would lead to less bottles left behind on tables and less bottles in the regular waste bins. This was received well by the other library employees and together they set up a system to collect the plastic bottles.

How is it going to continue?

The initiative started only a few months ago but hopefully soon it influences the university to introduce plastic recycling in all faculties. Even though Johan is leaving the Law Library, he ensured that the other employees can easily continue the initiative.

Future plans to make the Library more sustainable

As a library employee, Johan sees that there are still basic actions to be undertaken on a university-wide level to make the university more sustainable. For example he suggested that the university could try to lower the amount of paper being used during the book exchanges between the different libraries. Currently, the system consumes massive amounts of paper, from which some could be reused or saved. Moreover, Johan is open to the idea of lowering screen brightness on the computers and have the computers shut-down times more closely related to the library opening hours.

Where to next?

Students and staff of the university are in the best position to understand its systems, and find innovative approaches towards sustainability. Johan’s approach proves that a good idea and a small amount of effort can make immediate, tangible impact. If you have an experience with the university that is not sustainable, you can begin to impact a positive change immediately. Efforts like the staff of the Law Library’s do not go unnoticed, and they stimulate an attitude of critical engagement with the university.

________________________________________________________________________

Do you know about another sustainable project or initiative or do you happen to do it yourself? Please let us know! E-mail your project or recommendation to info@leidenuniversitygreenoffice.nl with the title: “Green Heroes”

Sustainable Clothing Swap Green Drinks

Once again nothing to wear, while your closet is overflowing? Do you have clothes that have quietly spent years without being worn once? Are you looking to freshen up your wardrobe?
Then it is time to join Leiden United and the Leiden University Green office for our sustainable clothing swap and Green drinks.

When?
On Wednesday, May 3rd
Walk in at 19:30 and clothing swap starts at 20:00

Where?
Plexus, Leiden
Kaiserstraat, 2311 EZ Leiden

How does it work?
For each item that you bring you will receive a token. You can later exchange this token for a new piece of clothing. This will happen in specific rounds. In the first round you will be able to exchange one token for one piece of clothing and in the second round another token and so on. Depending on how many clothes you bring you can choose your new items. We introduce this new token system to avoid chaos or any unfair distribution of clothes!

All the remaining clothes will be donated to charity!

Also if you do not have any clothes to swap and just want to enjoy some Green drinks or a chat you are also more than welcome to join!

Important
Sustainable drinks and snacks will be provided. To make it even more sustainable we want to avoid plastic waste. So our motto is: Bring your own cup!

The Sustainable Start Up Green Drinks

In a world in which the transition towards a sustainable society is a slow and challenging process for estabilished organisations, the Start-up can possibly offer a disruptive solution. Would you like to hear more about the possibilities entrepeneurship has to offer for the field of sustainability and vice versa? And would you like find out what its like to embark on a start up journey? Then come to our Sutainable Start – up Green drinks on the 6th of April!

During this edition of the Green drinks Hubspot (www.hubspotleiden.nl) will be telling us more about their view on sustainability and our local Easyfiets will be telling us about what it’s like to have a ‘sustainable’ start-up in Leiden. Read more about Easyfiets here: https://www.easyfiets.nl/.

Program:
17:00 – Introduction by Green Office
17:15 – Easyfiets
17:45 – HUBspot
18:05 – Questions
18:10 – Drinks

See you there!

Which party matches with your sustainable vision for the future?

With the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, people have a hard time deciding who to vote for. Therefore, a lot of organizations are giving people advice on who to vote for. Besides this advice, there is a “stemwijzer” available and there are of course the opinions of your friends and family that can help you decide. All of these different views and sources of information can be pretty overwhelming. Added to which, the questions asked in these kind of “stemwijzers” do not always correspond with the topics you find most important. Leiden University Green Office will also try to help you decide which party to support, keeping in mind that it is our office’s main goal to help make the University and of course the entire planet more sustainable.

We will give you some insights in what the different parties promise regarding climate change, energy use and sustainability. We have focused on the parties that are currently represented in the Second Chamber of Parliaments. By doing so, we hope to provide you with an overview of the positions from the different parties on a topic that you find important; sustainability.

Most of the parties within the Second Chamber of Parliaments do not prioritize sustainability in their election manifesto, or, as in the case of the PVV, do not mention it at all. However, some parties, for example the Party for the Animals and GroenLinks, have a broad vision of sustainability in the future. One possible explanatory factor for this difference could be the length of the election manifestos. Some parties have an extensive manifesto and go into detail for all of their plans for the next four years and thus also on the topic sustainability. Other parties have a more general manifesto and do not go into depth at all. It is therefore possible that they do have some good plans concerning sustainability but their sustainable plans may be underexposed. However, we will do our best to provide you with an as complete as possible overview.

As said before, all the different parties – with exception of the PVV – have adopted sustainability in their manifestos. The measures they want to take are however pretty different, especially when you compare the leftwing parties with the rightwing parties. The “new” leftwing parties like GroenLinks and Party for the Animals have dedicated many pages of manifesto program to sustainability, while the middle and rightwing parties only mention it a few times. CDA, known as a farmers party in the middle of the political spectrum has missed some really good opportunities here. They always focus a lot of attention and money on agriculture, a field which can become much more sustainable in the future. However, they hardly pay any attention to this side of agriculture. All they mention is the idea of creating sustainable wildlife management and implementing an easy way for sustainable harvesting. The party for the Animals does however spend a large part of their manifesto on Agriculture. For example, they want to reduce the use of pesticides by farmers and integrate sustainability within the educational manifesto for farmers. Besides this, they want to have a closed system in all the aspects of agriculture which results in zero waste.

The party for the Animals is the party with the most ambitious plans regarding sustainability. They want to implement some drastic sustainable policy changes in the next four years. As mentioned above they want to change the guidelines and rules for agriculture. Besides this they want to implement an entire new “green” tax system in which non-sustainable products will fall into a higher tax rate than sustainable products, in order to financially stimulate the market for sustainable products. Another innovative idea is the idea of a “green” profit and loss year budget in which the effects on nature, animals and humankind are calculated. This should be implemented to get an overview of the long term costs for planet earth regarding policy. The Party for the Animals, but GroenLinks as well, also propose a green investment bank where green initiatives can borrow money for a low interest. GroenLinks also proposes a new and greener tax system, with higher taxes for CO2 pollution. Another financial measure Groenlinks wants to introduce is extra money for climate support in third world countries on top of the already given development aid.

The SGP has an interesting view on subsidies for sustainable initiatives. This party wants to reduce the subsidies provided for wind turbines and to rather invest these savings in energy reduction and innovation. The question remains whether this is the right area to cut if the Netherlands intends to become more sustainable. On the positive side, the SGP wants to cut subsidies of coal plants, and wants to give households who produce their own energy some tax privileges.

Another ambitious measure proposed by the Party for the Animals is focused on the reduction of energy use. They want to make the Netherlands CO2-neutral by 2040. To accomplish this goal many new laws will be implemented, for example they will introduce higher taxes on fossil energy to promote sustainable energy, and make it obligatory for housing foundations to insulate their buildings. The other parties have a less ambitious goal for CO2-neutralilty in the Netherlands. Some parties do not mention it at all, but those that do – SGP and GroenLinks for example – are aiming for a (partly) CO2-neutral Netherlands in 2050.

Nevertheless, there are also some parties with good ideas not mentioned by the Party for the Animals. D66, GroenLinks and 50Plus would like to install a Minister of Climate and Environment. If this minister were to be installed, a whole ministry would be dedicated to sustainability which could create some real impact in the Netherlands and hopefully outside the Netherlands as well. “Outside the Netherlands” is also a popular topic discussed in the manifestos different parties. Almost all of the parties, including the parties with less sustainability in their manifesto like VVD and PvdA endorse the importance of International Agreements or laws within the EU to prevent polluting companies to move to a different country. Most of the parties also emphasize the example setting role the government must uphold for their citizens. The government should for example only purchase green tenders and have a 100% sustainable housing in 2050.

This is of course only a broad overview of the different positions of the parties regarding sustainability. Most of the parties have a lot more plans for a sustainable future, but it is not possible to discuss all of the ideas from each party. If you would like to know the exact positions of the parties, you can take a look at the programs of the different parties on their websites.

The general conclusion of this article is that the left wing parties have more ambitious plans regarding sustainability than the right wing parties. However, some of these rightwing parties have some innovative ideas that are not reflected in the ideas of the leftwing parties, which is a big plus for these parties. Besides this, while sustainability is of course a very important topic, other topics should also be taken into consideration whilst determining who to cast your vote on.

We hope to have hereby given you some more insight in the sustainable plans of the different parties, but encourage you to further broaden your knowledge on the positions of the parties. And most of all, we emphasize the importance of voting at all whether you vote for a “sustainable” party or not.

See you in the voting booth!

Written by: Benthe Koster

Next Green Drinks: Presentation of Year Plans

Are you a student or staff member of Leiden University and curious to find out what Leiden University Green Office is and what we do? Then join our next edition of Green Drinks, where we will present the LUGO year plans for 2017-2018 and you can provide us with your feedback and ideas!

Program:
16:00 – 16:15 – Walk in
16:15 – 16:45 – Presentation year plans
16:45 – 17:00 – Questions
17:00 – 17:30 – Drinks

The drinks afterwards will be on us, see you Wednesday March 8th at the Green Office on Reuvensplaats 2!

Third Green Drinks: a lively discussion about sustainability and education

16387425_605086076367393_1243398893948402032_n

A few weeks ago we had our third Green Drinks event. The theme of the evening was: sustainability and education. Rene Kleijn, professor at the CML Institute, opened our event with a short but pungent speech about his opinion regarding sustainability at the university. After his speech, all the attendees were divided in small groups to give their opinion on different topics concerning sustainability in education, so the LUGO could gather some insights about the views and needs of the students.

Two topics were discussed at the event. The first topic was: Is it the duty of the universities to incorporate sustainability in studies? It was interesting to see that some of the groups had totally opposing views on this topic. With some of the groups it was immediately clear that this question should be answered with a “yes” while other groups thought people should already have a sufficient knowledge of sustainability when they get to the university. Therefore, it should be taught in preschool or high school. One of the groups engaged on a more abstract level and discussed in what way sustainability differs from other global issues such as poverty and inequality, and to what extent all three should be taught at university.

There were also groups who answered ‘yes’ to the question. It was agreed that sustainability should be integrated in the basic curriculum for students, as it will otherwise only attract students who are already interested. If it is not possible to integrate sustainability in the curriculum (on short term), it should be provided as an elective, but there should be some extra external motivation to take these electives. For examples, students could be motivated by granting them a green note on their diploma if they follow enough sustainability electives.

The second topic discussed was: How can we connect and integrate sustainability initiatives within the university? The opinions on this matter were less divers. Most of the groups came up with at least one of the two following ideas: there should be a low key possibility to find and join sustainable initiatives in Leiden and the Hague and a larger event should be organised which brings interested staff members and students together. A few ideas for the low key event came up: for example there could be a physical wall where people can hang their ideas and call for help with projects, and an online Facebook group for green initiatives that everybody can join. LUGO really liked both of the ideas and our media coordinator has set up this online Facebook group: Sustainable Ideas and Initiatives Leiden – Den Haag.

Ideas for an event are a green fair with different stands or a round tables event where also staff members or the municipality can join. The most important part of these events, a point that came up with all the groups, was that it should be fun to join. We will keep that in mind!

After the last topic we16299007_605086036367397_8957200608884035561_n had a few drinks to brainstorm some more about sustainability at the university and to get to know each other better. If you have some ideas that you would like to share with us, please contact us at info@leidenuniversitygreenoffice.nl or meet us at our next green drinks on the 9th of march. Hope to see you there!