I wish you a Sustainable 2021

Time to turn the tide and you can do something!

In 2021, let’s tackle food waste and plastic pollution with some easy tips & tricks 🙂

  • Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and glass reusable bottles are available in supermarkets. 
  • Refuse single-use plastics like straws and cutlery. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use take-out restaurants.
  • Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and plastic bottles by replacing them with a reusable lunch box and a thermos bottle. Reuse glass jars and plastic containers to store leftover food in your fridge or freezer.
  • Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. 
  • Buy second hand and sustainable clothes. Clothes’ production requires a lot of water. Synthetic clothes release microplastics into our waterways each time you wash them. 
  • Join a beach clean-up or collect litter on walks in the park. 
  • Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and share facts about plastic pollution.

If you have other tips & tricks to avoid single-use plastics or food waste, please leave them in the comments!

No Plastic Planet, please

Good news for 2021: The European Union and Mexico will ban single-use plastics, Thailand, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will ban plastic bags and China will ban single-use straws. To avoid using plastic bags, cups or cutlery, I always carry the following with me:

  • a tote bag
  • a reusable and refillable bottle
  • a lightweight cutlery set (key-ring size)

You would be surprised at how friendly shop owners are when you bring your own bags and tupperwares, or even your own reusable cup or bottle to the store and you ask them for example to pour your take-away coffe into your bottle. There may be a shop that sells food in bulk nearby your place, or a market that sells veggies & fruits from a local farm.

Good deals to save meals

The mobile phone application TooGoodToGo has been expanding to many countries (Denmark, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Poland and soon the US). Via the app, you can save meals from bakeries and restaurants as well as groceries from supermarkets for a much discounted price. Just before their Christmas closing, I got 26 portions of spaghetti bolognese from a restaurant, which I then distributed to people on the street. TooGoodToGo also gives tips on how to use leftover food in original recipes on their instagram page. Join the movement of Food Waste Warriors here: https://toogoodtogo.org/en

Second hand clothes, true treasures

Many cities now have lots of different second hand clothes shops, where you can find true treasures if you take your time. I recently found my holidays outfit in an Oxfam store and found out that the items I bought where luxury and quality design brands. You can also look on the application Vinted, on which people sell their (sometimes barely worn) clothes and shoes directly to you based on photos and you can negotiate the price: https://www.vinted.be/

Inspirational documentaries

The fantastic documentary about Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, “The Salt of the Earth”, not only tells the story of his humanitarian photographs from all over the world, but also about how together with his wife he replanted a disappeared forest in his birth village:

“Before the Flood”, Leonardo Dicaprio’s film on the climate crisis:

The nature series “One Planet” by Sir David Attenborough shows how all ecosystems are interlinked and how we need to protect these to save animals and nature, ultimately also for our own survival:

And as you too are a future changemaker, know that you are never too young to take action:

Happy Holidays with a Gift that Keeps on Giving

We want to surprise our family and friends with presents and experiences… here you find ideas for feel good gifts with just that little extra 🙂

Adopt a HeroRAT or HeroDOG to save lives

For years, my Dad has been giving me a rat for Christmas. A rat? Yes but not just any rat. A HeroRAT, who is detecting landmines in Cambodia. During his visit there, my Dad heard about the organisation APOPO that trains rats to sniff out detonator in landmines so that these can be dismantled and no more people will get injured or worse from exploding landmines. For Christmas, he then adopted Marcous the HeroRAT for me, whose achievements I can follow via e-mail newsletters. His co-HeroRATS and HeroDOGS are sniffing out tuberculosis samples in Tanzania or are trained to find people in the aftermath of natural hazards. Wherever they are active, APOPO employs mostly local staff and animal welfare is their top priority. You can also support the HeroRATs with a basket full of bananas, a love nest or dinner for two…. Check this and become a hero too: https://www.apopo.org/en/hero-gifts

Get (RED) products to fight pandemics

(RED) partners with the world’s most iconic brands that contribute profits from the sale of (RED)-branded products and experiences to the Global Fund. It has its name because red is the colour of emergency. Global emergencies, whether HIV or COVID-19, tend to hit the most vulnerable populations the hardest. To date, (RED) partners have generated more than $650 million to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. 100% of that money goes to work on the ground — no overhead is taken. In light of the current COVID-19 threat, (RED) is working closely with the Global Fund to help protect (RED)-funded HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 programs: https://www.red.org/products

Illuminate the world with the Luci solar-powered light

Working with over 650 NGOs and non-profits, Luci provides clean energy to those who need it most. Luci distributes clean energy options that provide a more economical and environmentally friendly approach to everyday tasks. Since only the sun is needed to charge the light and it can even charge a phone, this is an absolutely magic solution to illuminate people’s lives. To support this, you can buy your own inflatable solar-powered light, which I take on all my travels, here: https://mpowerd.com/

Support School ‘n Skating with Skateistan

Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organization which empowers children through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Their focus is on groups who are often excluded from sports and educational opportunities, especially girls, children living with disabilities and those from low-income backgrounds. The aim is to create safe spaces where children can have fun, build their skills and confidence and break down social barriers by making new friends: https://www.skateistan.org/skate-school-5

Drink Gin for the gorilla’s in the Virunga Park

When you buy this gin created by two brothers after their visit to the Virunga National Park,  that stretches over Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, you contribute to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to protect mountain gorillas in Central-Africa: https://www.wilderness-spirits.com/

Rock “The Good Roll” Toilet Paper

The Good Roll donates 50% of profits to building toilets in developing countries and is made of 100% tree-friendly and sustainable toilet paper. You can make sure your friends and family with ‘fear of missing out’ will not end up in a sh*tty situation when they find the toilet paper supermarket shelves empty: https://thegoodroll.com/en/

Flabbergasted in Valencia

Valencia is most famous these days for the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Art and Sciences), designed by the architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The water surrounding the buildings is an essential part of the imagery, as the reflection gives the impression of a mirrored building in the water.

The Serrano gate, which was part of the city wall in the 14th century

The funnisest feeling of serendipity (finding something you weren’t looking for) is when a street in Valencia is named after Barcelona (my second home) and had a sticker on it (I swear I didn’t stick it!) of the football club of my first hometown Ghent! With this, I double at home in Valencia!

Leaving the beach side of Valencia with a Los Angeles-feel

#WorldKindnessday : a little gesture goes a long way

Today is #WorldKindnessDay! Kindness is free and it’s in the smallest things: a smile, a kind word, a little gesture goes a long way.

Here are some random acts of kindness to inspire you:

  • Smile at people 🙂 and make someone’s day
  • Give an honest compliment
  • Thank someone who you appreciate
  • Ask a friend how they are really doing and be a good listener
  • Offer your help to someone
  • Treat someone to coffee or cake
  • Send a postcard with a personal message

I will be sending #postcards. All you need to do is send me your home address via theworldweallshare@outlook.com and wait for 📩 to arrive…

…just like that other time when I made the Postcard Promise if you voted for me in the Road Trip Project: https://wordpress.com/post/theworldweallshare.com/250

During the corona lockdowns, I sent 30 postcards to a care home for elderly people, to cheer them up while visitors were not allowed. You see, it doesn’t take a big effort, but a random act of kindness brings big smiles 🙂

Equality rules during the Week of Action for Girls


The reason why I think it is so very important that we engage in advocacy is because I believe in equality. We cannot create a better world for all when half of the world’s potential is left out. That is why girls’ voices need to be heard. Girls too will be the changemakers in society, entrepreneurs coming up with local and global solutions. We will be educationalists, scientists, business leaders, politicians and overall engaged citizens.

In our role as Youth Ambassadors for the ONE Campaign, we were invited to take part in the European Girl’s Week of Action, during which we did research on girl’s rights and reality, exchanged knowledge and personal experiences and worked together as a team.

We could live this wonderful experience because we are encouraged to make our voices heard, have educational opportunities, and internet access. As EWAG activists, we want to make sure that this will not just be a right on paper, but become a reality for all girls.

Why the Sustainable Development Goals are relevant to all of us

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were an ambitious set of eight incentives, ranging from eradicating world hunger to achieving environmental sustainability, agreed upon by all member states of the United Nations in 2000. The aim of the agenda was to reach the objectives by 2015.

Some of the Millennium Development objectives resulted in remarkable achievements and changed the lives of many people. The eradication of hunger and extreme poverty, defined in the goals as people living on less than $1,25 per day, has been the most successful achievement as the MDGs as 1 billion people now have better living conditions than 15 years ago. Moreover, today more girls than ever are in school which proves that there has been an unprecedented effort to achieve universal primary education and to promote gender equality.

“Yet for all the remarkable gains, I am keenly aware that inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven”, declared Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon in the Millennium Development Goals Report issued in 2015. In addition, many voices, among which human rights activists, NGOs and public opinion, have pointed out the fact that many objectives remain ideals written on paper and have not been realised out in the field. For example, the gap between the rich and the poor is expanding worldwide and much has to be done to combat climate change and to create sustainable development and resilient communities as these challenges affect the poorest most.

In a call for continued endeavour by all the UN member states to create a better world for all, Ban Ki-moon emphasized that “experiences and evidence from the efforts to achieve the MDGs demonstrate that we know what to do. But further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort”. Especially in the light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, global actors among which nation states, NGOs and international institutions must show the durable commitment to implement Global Goals.

To reach these Goals for everyone, we will need you to be engaged as well: by actig sustainably, by living diversity and by engaging in projects that improve the lives of people.

Will you be part of this story?

Serendipity in (sur)real Brussels

Rediscovering one of the cities I am lucky to call home… In the past few weeks I went for walks in the heart of Brussels with friends from Lithuania, Venezuela, France, Congo, Greece, Canada, Italy, Albania, Spain, Saudi-Arabia, Germany, Mexico… and with roots from all continents. I was thinking about this while I photographed the wooden window frames of the Europa Building, which were collected from building renovations all over Europe: How all these connected window frames and collective life experiences together make the stories of our cities, our times and our lives.

The European Quarter

Art-nouveau & art-déco

Place Flagey in Ixelles

Villa Empain in Ixelles

Creative hubs

SEE U in Ixelles

Parcs

Brussels by night

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights

Article 1. of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.

Know your rights and read the full Universal Declaration of Human Rights: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

An Adventurous Wanderess in Peru

I had been dreaming of going to Latin-America for 10 years. This year I finally made it! I had to overcome so many mountains (literally and figuratively) even before getting to Machu Picchu, which made my Peru experience even more fulfilling!

Huacacina

Huacacina is an oasis in the desert, 3 hours of driving south along the coast from Lima. The place is magical, expecially at sunset and at nighttime.

Bring a drink, climb the hill overseeing the oasis and enjoy watching the sun go down behind the enourmous sandhills.

Islas Ballestas

In some travel guides, these islands are called “the poor man’s Galápagos islands”. There is a symbol of a chandelier carved out in lines in the sand and there are multiple theories about who (from pranksters to aliens to the Nazca people who drew several similar symboks in Nazca region in Peru).

Salkantay Mountain trail

When I arrived in Cusco, I went to all the travel agencies to find the best option to do a trek to Machu Picchu as there are different ones. The Inca Trail mainly consists out of stairs, as this route is the original way of how to Incas reached Machu Picchu: by climbing thousands of stone-carved steps. This trail is often fully booked months in advance so if you want to do it, it’s best to book online around 5/6 months before your trip. Another option is the Lares trek, which you can also do independently without a guide if you rent/bring camping gear.

I chose the 5-days Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu in a guided group which included climbing the Salkantay Mountain and then later passing through a semi-jungle. I got a very cheap price as I booked very last-minute in the afternoon to leave the day after at 4 am in the morning with a local travel agency. The Salkantay mountain is 6,217 meters high and we climbed up to 4000 meters to cross the pass to the other side of the mountain. For these 5 days, we stayed in huts (in the mountains) and tents (in the jungle) and the key for the trak was wearing clothes in layers and not bringing too much stuff besides GOOD shoes, blister band-aids, a headlight, mosquito repellent, sunscreen and sufficient snacks and water. I brought Diomoxine, a medicine against altitude sickness and grape sugar tablets as well to get through the more challenging routes of the trek. The experience of being in a group of people and taking to them while going up and down mountains was a really interesting one, as we got to know and helped each other. We arrived to Machu Picchu as one family!

Machu Picchu

Rainbow Mountain – Montaña de 7 Colores

To reach it this magnificent mountain at it’s majestic 5,200 meters height, you can book a tour with one of the local travel agencies in Cusco, who will mostly provide transport and lunch on the way there and some also bring an oxygen bottle up the mountain for in case you experience difficulties breathing. The high altitude makes the air very thin and even if you are in good health, climbing up this mountain will take your breath away (in several senses).

Cusco

The central square of Cusco is absolutely enchanting. The grandeur of the buildings surrounding the square with the pmountains in the backgound offer a spectacular view.