Sustainability... what is it exactly?
The definition of sustainability is directly linked to 'development', because sustainability is dynamic: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Simply put, sustainability is ‘taking proper care of the Earth so that subsequent generations can also live on it’. Right now we are using more resources than the Earth can replenish. There is no balance between the three ‘Ps’: people, planet and profit, which is why the Earth is slowly running out of resources. Sustainability is living in a way that balances the needs of the 3 ‘Ps’!
Information on sustainable living
At De Helderse Vallei, we inform visitors about sustainable living. We give tips and obviously try to set a good example ourselves as much as possible.
These are some of our initiatives:
- We find inclusiveness within our organisation important, so we work closely with volunteers, various associations and the Esdégé-Reigersdaal daily activities and care organisation
- We only sell organic (100% natural!) products in our coffee corner and also use organic products for our employees and volunteers (such as tea and coffee).
- We sell as many organic, local and fair trade products as possible in our shop.
- We prefer to work with local entrepreneurs.
- Our animals also eat organic fodder, and in the animal stalls we use organic hemp as a floor covering.
- We use organic cleaning products that do not harm the environment.
- We only use FSC paper and our staff and volunteers (try to) avoid printing documents as much as possible!
- Our company vehicle runs on natural gas.
- We keep the heating as low as possible and turn off electrical appliances when we are not using them. The lighting in our buildings switches off automatically when a room is not in use.
- We will soon be completely energy-neutral (2021) when solar panels are installed on our roofs.
- We collect rainwater for reuse.
- We separate our waste as much as possible and encourage visitors to do the same. We have waste bins that playfully focus people's attention on the need to separate their waste and we organise activities to collect up litter.
- We have a compost heap in our grounds, where we convert our green waste into fertile soil.
- We encourage recreation in nature in order to strengthen the connection with the world around us (you take care of the things you love!) by offering walking, cycling and canoeing routes.
- All our toilets are fitted with dual flush buttons.
- Pictures on the toilet doors explain various topics, such as how water is purified and treated.
- Our taps are fitted with sensors to prevent constant running and avoid wasting water unnecessarily.
- In our coffee corner, we sell ‘Earth water’. The supplier of this product donates 100% of the net profit to finance water projects, so the money is invested in sustainable water systems in areas that need them.
- We are working with Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier to set up educational activities that focus on water.
- We actively keep our grounds clean to prevent litter and waste being blown into the water by the wind.
- We try to offer the animals at our city farm a 'natural' living environment as much as possible.
- At our site, we have created features like insect hotels, a bird garden, hedgehog mound and wild flower garden to ensure that insects (such as bees), birds and hedgehogs can thrive there.
- In the bird garden and in and around the grounds, we have hung up several nest boxes for (garden) birds, swallows and bats. In the bird garden, there is also a hollowed-out tree where a bee colony lives
- A toad pool has been created as a home for toads and salamanders and there is a kingfisher nesting wall just outside the grounds.
- We mow as little as possible on the site to give insects a better chance of survival.
- A ditch has been dug around De Helderse Vallei to provide adequate space for water plants and animals.
- There is a wind turbine in the grounds, located behind the Visitor Centre. This wind turbine was donated to us by De Eendragt (https://eendragt-duurzame-energie.nl/) and generates sustainable wind power for our facility!
- In our grounds, we have a ‘candy maze’ where red berries, blackberries and other berries grow. When they are ripe, you are welcome to pick one to experience the taste!