Waste Belgium has been supporting youth movement groups in the country to help reduce their waste
Since 2018, the Belgian Zero Waste Organization has been supporting youth sports groups in the country to help reduce their waste as part of the "Camp Zero Dechet" (zero waste camp) project.
The project was organized with local partners and included:
Fristouille (supporting sustainable food) Empreintes (specially aimed at the environmental awareness of young audiences);
And the support of the Youth Sports Federation, including:
Les Guides Catholiques de Belgique, La Fédération Nationale des Patros, Les Scouts, Les Scouts et Guides Pluralistes de Belgique.
The Camp Zero Dechet (zero waste) project provides a support program that enables camp leaders to acquire the skills and knowledge to reduce waste during the camp and make the entire experience more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
In Belgium, there is a long history of summer camps and activities designed for all young people over 4 years old. They provide opportunities for young people to gather together to learn practical life skills and appreciate the natural environment. They are designed to help young Belgian participants build confidence and leadership skills. Activities are organized on most weekends, and summer camps are held during the summer vacation.
These camps are very important to the Belgian youth movement because they usually represent the highlights of the year. In the zero waste camp project, Belgium Zero Waste and its partners support the leaders of the youth movement to organize a special zero waste camp. These camps have three specific goals:
Reduce waste: By taking some quick actions, the results can be dramatic. Most camps have reduced waste by more than 50%. More connections: zero waste, beyond trash cans, first about learning how to create a more sustainable camp experience. More appreciation: by providing opportunities to enter and respect the natural world, including how they Being able to limit their waste and the importance of this, these camps give a positive view of the environmentally focused actions young people can take today.
The support provided by Zero Waste Belgium and partners includes the following steps:
Before the camp: organize an awareness-raising meeting for camp leaders in the form of a group. The course provides these young people with the knowledge of why zero waste methods are needed, and equips them with the skills and tools needed to pass zero waste information to participants, parents and other employees. It is also based on 6 key focus areas (participation , Food, waste management, sanitation, material selection and mobility) to provide camp leaders with advanced training modules, which are an integral part of the project’s success. The training helps camp leaders determine waste reduction goals during the camp. During the camp: organize visits to the camp so that they can analyze and evaluate the impact of their zero waste methods and efforts, and provide support and assistance for the implementation of the zero waste policy. Post-camp: Organize a meeting of camp leaders, where they reflect on their experiences and lessons throughout the experience.
Check here for a complete overview of the training provided throughout the project.
Although only 9 groups were supported in 2018, in 2020, this number has increased sharply to more than 40 groups, and they have now accepted the challenge of implementing a zero waste camp experience.
The data collected from the plan shows that with proper support, all groups can reduce garbage.
Compared with previous years, the camp waste in 2020 will be reduced by 66% on average.
There are about 40 people in a two-week camp and only 4 bags of residual waste are generated on average, compared with 12 bags in previous years. It should also be pointed out that the reduction of residual waste did not lead to an increase in recycled materials, indicating that the project has had an impact on waste prevention, not just recycling.
In addition to drastically reducing camp waste, feedback from the group showed real success in awareness and behavior change. The concrete actions taken by most camps attest to this-increasing connections with local businesses, implementing sustainable food menus, increasing preference for homemade food and properly managing biological waste.
The aggressive young leaders understand and integrate many actions. In 2020, more than 70 coordinators were trained during the project and more than 1,400 young people were directly contacted. If the indirect impact on parents and the wider family (ie their parents) is taken into account, this impact will be further expanded.
"These groups are very motivated and enthusiastic. They accept the challenge and achieve zero waste for their camp, making it a two-week utopia. The most incredible thing is that they tend to go further than they expected . If you give them the keys, they are living evidence that young people aspire to live a more sustainable life. Then pass it on to the next generation." – Marc Sautelet, Project Manager, Zero Business Dechet
The good practices for organizing zero waste camps learned during the project include:
Motivate your employees with a clear project vision and goals; appoint a leader in the team as the focal point of the entire process; determine the goal of the number of garbage bags you want to have from the beginning; make garbage bags for parents to understand and Bring them; decide the food menu in the camp in advance; choose your producer and contact them in advance; predict and prepare the logistics of bulk shopping; have a container large enough to collect the leftover food for reuse;
The Camp Zero Dechet project aims to target young people first and let them reconsider their personal consumption choices. We believe that this experience will have a long-term impact on their attitudes towards waste and the importance of drastically reducing waste.
The project shows that through clear support and training, individuals can very easily reduce waste in a large amount. In Belgium, each person generates an average of 150 kilograms of garbage each year.If the same reduction is applied to the entire population, Belgian citizens can only produce 50 kilograms per year. This will be in line with the achievements of some of the best performing zero-waste cities in Europe, which can be achieved with only a few weeks of training.
Pauline Talbot is a zero waste project manager in Belgium.
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