In the morning, we had a short train ride from Leiden to Tilburg. Upon arrival, we were picked up from the train station by Brian and Evelien. Right away, we all got along and knew our stay in Tilburg would be cheerful and easy-going! Throughout our stay, we were happy to eat mainly vegetarian meals to lower our ecological footprints from meat consumption.
Our workshops in Tilburg were a nice change as we had the chance to implement new ideas into our presentations. For one of our workshops, we focused on psychological aspects when dealing with climate change. By this, we looked more in-depth at the reasons why there is plenty of awareness but not enough action taken towards sustainability. As we discussed altogether, we came up with ideas that perhaps many people do not want to change their lifestyle and be put at an inconvenience of any sort. Though perhaps this is a flaw in the system as generally, small sustainable steps do not alter a person’s lifestyle all that much. In our other workshop, we incorporated information on disaster risk management. We connected the concept of this to the fact that The Netherlands is located near the coast and faces challenges with flooding and other extreme weather conditions in association with the rise of climate change issues.
The city of Tilburg is relatively new in comparison to some of the other cities we had been to throughout our route. The road system in the city is very pedestrian-friendly, and we got to experience this fully as we were given bikes to cycle around on for the duration of our stay. We spent most of our time on the University campus which is very open with a friendly atmosphere. There are a lot of green spaces and other green initiatives such as recycling systems implemented on campus as well as throughout the entire city.
One morning, we all headed down to the Wandelbos Forest for a volunteer cleanup. We spent the entire morning picking up litter scattered throughout the forest. Spending the morning in the forest was a great way to reconnect with the surrounding nature and see the beauty as spring was blooming all around us. This project helped rekindle the idea of mindfulness and how we must be conscious of our individual ecological footprints in order to help preserve the beauty of the natural world.
I was a bit shocked as only after one hour I had already filled up two garbage bags full of trash. By the end, there were over ten garbage bags from all the volunteers combined. It felt good to do something good for the environment but also gave a lot of perspective about the amount of garbage people throw into nature. When thinking of forests alone, it is unimaginable how much litter there would be. Some of the main items found were cigarette buds, plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic utensils, and plastic straws – none of which are biodegradable. Many may not realize but single-use plastics are some of the most harmful products to the environment today. As well, since plastics are not biodegradable, they only break down over time into smaller and smaller particles and leach their toxins and chemicals into the soil and water systems – therefore contaminating the entire region.
Overall, Team Blue had a nice, refreshing stay in Tilburg and made great new friends! We were excited to take part in new activities as well as incorporate new ideas into our workshops.
Thank you for hosting us AEGEE-Tilburg, see you somewhere in Europe!
Stay tuned for Team Blue’s next adventure through Köln!
Written by Brittney St.Amant, Photos by Gab Mejia