Keeping the Earth alive

I have always lived in Schiedam, a town in a heavily polluted industrial area of Holland.

Municipal labourers spraying herbicides so lavishly that spray entered our home brought me to environmental awareness’. Getting only nonsensical answers when I questioned why spraying was necessary, I started campaigning against this pollution.

Some years later, I was elected on to the town council and was given a share in the responsibility for municipal decisions. We stopped spraying herbicides 16 years ago. Then we banned the use of all pesticides in city parks. We planted huge quantities of trees. We improved public transport and put in separate bicycle lanes.

Then we asked architects to design energy-efficient housing, and were able to build homes that require only around half as much fuel for heating as the national average — without increasing the cost of construction.

In our town, with its 70,000 inhabitants, we make a small beginning.

Keeping our Earth alive is a global task, but we can all make a beginning in our own surroundings.

Chris Zydeveld campaigns on environmental issues in Holland.

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