This week we are giving the floor to Marjon Heutmekers, the woman behind the local initiative “Olijfgroen.com”. Her personality can be summed up as decisive and creative, inspiring and optimistic. Nature is the primary source of inspiration for all her activities. In order to protect and make Mother Earth more sustainable, Marjon emphasizes the importance of the underlying motivation to lead people to behavioural change. Therefore, with each concept she tries to trigger us to take action for the benefit of the environment and the world in which we live.
Sustainability from nature
Marjon attended training in “Facility Management” and then broadened her horizons through the Erasmus program of “Corporate Social Responsibility”. During our conversation, she introduced us to the concept of “bio-mimicry”. That is the art and science that studies strategies from nature and uses them as inspiration to solve problems in our human society. She works as an independent consultant in the field of sustainability at local municipalities and companies.
It is not the lack of money or technology that stands in the way of sustainable development. That’s all there. What we need are superpowers like “trust, guts, cooperation and love”. From the idea that trees have superpowers, the concept of “boumkracht” arose. Marjon sells posters and cards on her website in exchange for planting a tree. The content and layout of these posters are unique. Each poster contains a poetic message about those superpowers, illustrated in the Limburg language by the trees themselves. In this original way, our Local Goal Getter makes a clear statement that she is carrying out this initiative with and for the local community. Since trees benefit our health, make the communities more sustainable and improve life on land, she actively contributes to achieving three significant Sustainable Development Goals (#3, #11, #15).
Moreover, Marjon is aware that the results of her actions will be even more meaningful when she collaborates with local partners. For example, for this project, she works together with “Trees for All”, the Utrecht organization that plants trees for individuals and companies, in the Netherlands and abroad. (SDG#17). In the same context, Marjon will develop a poster by the next Christmas period as an alternative to the traditional cutting of numerous Christmas trees. She is currently working on the children’s version of “boumkracht” which she will offer online as well. Beautiful as the gift of birth. With this, a new human life will be directly linked to new life in nature.
Marjon tries to make people think about system errors. We often do things because that’s how they go, not because it is smart or logical. She wants to break this habit. For example, the usage of wool. Because wool has no financial value, hundreds of kilos are burned every year, while wool has so much potential to be used for various purposes. Given the large sheep population in South Limburg, she sees an opportunity to work more sustainably with wool. She wants to increase this awareness with the wool concept. In doing so, she will make a concrete contribution to promoting responsible consumption and production (SDG # 12).
The following concept will try to contribute to good health and well-being. (SDG#3). She sees the loss of interpersonal contact in her own environment. She links the all-dominating career hunt to the fact that money in itself has become an end instead of a means to a pleasant life. That “rat race” is being sharpened by the ubiquitous smartphones. She sees that a great deal of attention and time is being devoted to these electronic tools instead of valuable interactive human contact. She has lifted the veil by saying that with ceramics she will directly strive to reduce the overuse of smartphones and support a related social cause. Our interest has already been aroused. How different and calmer the world would look if people succeeded in gradually shifting their attention from a tool to a person.
Lastly, our Local Goal Getter and her husband have become the princely couple Carnival. Marjon attaches great importance to the values of carnival and she cherishes the principle of the liberating effect of carnival clothing. At the same time, she took the opportunity to discuss the theme of sustainability during the carnival. For example, they are looking at making party clothing more sustainable (SDG#12).
Sustainability for everyone
The enormous diversity of her initiatives show that Marjon is all-around with her heart in the right place. She succeeds in an accessible and original way to make our disruptive world a little more liveable. Through her actions, she wants to demonstrate that sustainability should not be difficult, but that actively working on sustainability can even lead to a happier life as an individual.
Text: Anna Hermans
Photos: Séverine Louf
Editing and Design: Jennifer Timmermans, Linda Vecvagare & Lars Wingerath