LIFE Chemicals Ambassadors for Europe
New LIFE project detoxifies Europe’s households
We generally associate hazardous chemicals with heavy industry and polluted hotspots in the vicinity of chemical plants. However, we encounter many hazardous chemicals even in our homes. This is because cleaning products, cosmetics, and consumer products are responsible for countless pollutants in our own households. From the products, the chemicals make their way into our bodies and the environment, where they sometimes cause irreversible damage. An EU-funded project is now tackling this issue.
Become a chemical ambassador
The project is looking for committed volunteers who will help us reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals. The volunteers will receive training on harmful substances found in households. The knowledge they gain will then be passed on in face-to-face consultations to their friends and family. The goal of the project is simple: to inform as many people as possible about which products and substances should be removed from their households.
The range of substances used in everyday products is huge: from hormonally active substances in cosmetics, to toxic substances in cleaning agents, to billions of particles of microplastics found in almost every home.
The Chemical Ambassadors pay particular attention to products that can expose children to hazardous chemicals since growing children are at a higher risk for negative health impacts.
Change your habits
Topics also covered in the home visits: Buy less, but better – which seals and labels serve as a guide? How can proper ventilation and cleaning reduce your own family’s exposure?
In addition to the household check, the visited families and individuals are given many valuable tips for a low-emission life, for their own health and for a healthier environment.
The project is funded by the EU through the LIFE programme. Participants are Germany, Portugal, Austria, Greece, Sweden, Poland, France, Czech Republic and Finland.
• Reference: LIFE21-GIE-DE-LIFEChemBee/101074245
• Start Date: 01/10/2022
• End Date: 31/03/2026
• Total Budget: 1,999,645 €
• EU Contribution: 1,199,787 €
The LIFE ChemBee project will campaign an effective tool for consumption behaviour change: the Chemicals Household Check developed by some of the partners in the predecessor project NonHazCity (INTERREG) – a tool that initiates change directly at and together with the key target group, the consumers (end-users). It encourages participants to make inventories of products, articles and materials within their household, pile them up, make decisions on what to change, and then monitor the change.
The tool has been tested in more than 100 households in the Baltic Sea Region (mainly in Germany) so far and is ready to be spread widely all over Europe.
The driving force behind the LIFE ChemBee project is to involve volunteers and train them to become “eco-ambassadors” in the fight against chemical pollution. After this training, they are able to carry out home visits in their own social environment. The project team then only plays a catalytic and supportive role by organising regular follow-up meetings and providing all necessary tools.
– Face-to-face meetings will be preferred in order to better create a group dynamic and to better practice argumentation techniques and answers to the many questions that the households visited will inevitably ask.
– Accompanied visits are planned with members of the project team. In addition, weekly tasks, learning videos, focus groups and quizzes will be used to consolidate learning and also to enable participants to change their own behaviour.
The programme is designed to fit into the daily lives of a wide range of people. Participation in the programme is free of charge in exchange for a commitment to make at least 20 “home visits”.
➜ Snowball effect: up to 43,000 homes visited starting with a minimum of 200 eco-ambassadors per country who make 20-25 home visits each.
The in-house Eco-support operating model for public institutions
In parallel, we will apply the Ekotuki (Eco-support) operating model, an approach developed for Finnish public organisations, tested within NonHazCity, as an instrument to increase municipalities’ employees’ awareness on hazardous chemicals and to boost smart chemical management at workplace. Whitin the LIFE ChemBee project, the objective is to 1) test and transfer Finnish eco-support operating model to Greek and French municipalities focusing the training and activities into hazardous substances management and to 2) advance hazardous chemical training among organisations belonging to the Finnish Eco-support network.
Arabic and Turkish speaking Ambassadors
For almost 15 years, Yesil Cember has been training Turkish and Arabic speakers in Berlin to become environmental and food ambassadors. The ambassador kits of the LIFE ChemBee project will be translated and adapted into these 2 additional languages to better reach the working class areas.
VIPs and influencers on social networks
Influencers from different parts of Europe will be involved including in training. Behaviour change facilitation needs to be more practical and needs to reach people at home and touch their very personal “do’s and don’ts”. Social values need to be addressed to create motivation to do something, role models are needed.
LIFE ChemBee defines three main groups of key stakeholders outside the project consortium that are required to ensure the success of the project:
• Volunteers that will become Chemicals Ambassadors or Eco-Supporters
• Families in private households that will let in the Ambassadors and commit to a change in their consumption behaviour
• Public entities that will establish an Eco-Supporter function in their entity and support it.
• Multiplier organisations that will promote the project to their members & networks
• VIPs and/or Influencers who will promote the project to their target audience or become role models as Ambassador themselves.
In previous projects we learnt that consumption pattern changes require more than knowledge and information – it requires new learning tools, direct personal experiences, new social values, role models, success by becoming active yourself and people need a guiding hand. This indicates that knowledge alone does not lead to behaviour change, something more is needed.
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