We generally associate hazardous chemicals with heavy industry and polluted hotspots in the vicinity of chemical plants, however you come in contact with many of them even at your home. It is because cleaning products, cosmetics and consumer products are responsible for countless pollutants in our own households. From there, they 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 chemicals ambassador

The project is looking for committed volunteers who will first receive training on all relevant aspects of the harmful substances found in households. The knowledge they gained will then be passed on in face-to-face consultations, first to their immediate circle of friends and family, and later to others.

The goal of the project is simple: to inform as many people as possible about which products and substances should ideally be banned completely from their household.

The range of substances used in everyday products is huge: from hormonally active substances in cosmetics, to toxic substances in cleaning agents, to the billions of particles of plastic and microplastics found in almost every home.

The Chemicals Ambassadors pay particular attention to items that children frequently come into contact with.

Change your habits

Another goal of the home visits: Buy less, but better – which seals and labels serve as a guide? And last but not least: How can proper ventilation and cleaning reduce your own family’s exposure?

In addition to the household check itself, 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.


PROJECT INFO

• 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 €

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

The Chemical Household-Check: a tool ready to be scaled up

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.

Recruiting 2300 ambassadors starting September 2023

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.

Special Ambassadors

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.

Motivating “any person in Europe” to become “key stakeholders” in our project

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.

Beyond awareness raising, triggering behavioural change

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.

Comming soon :

Blog articles
by Dr. Aleksandra Rutkowska

PROJECT PARTNERS

BEF-DE was founded in Hamburg in 2003 as a non-profit association and chairs the “BEF Group”, an international network with offices in Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). BEF-DE has 18 years of experience in developing and managing projects, mainly funded by the EU. Since its foundation BEF-DE has implemented 45 projects (250 for the whole BEF group) in the fields of chemicals and waste management, water quality, nature, species and marine protection, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and climate change.

Established in 2004, ECOCITY is an association whose mission is to set standards and ensure the promotion and adoption of best practices in environmental protection in Greece. ECOCITY has participated in the LIFE AskREACH project, organised one of the pioneering conferences on the circular economy in Greece and provides advice to municipalities on planning their circular economy roadmaps.

Established in 2015, ZERO focuses on both policy advocacy and projects that can help show that alternatives are possible. ZERO has been involved in the LIFE AskREACH project and is a member of several working groups of international organisations such as Zero Waste Europe and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), particularly on the topic of plastics and chemical pollution.

RES was created in 2009 with the aim of putting Environmental Health at the heart of public policies. Its first campaign led to the banning of Bisphenol A in baby bottles in France and in the European Union as a whole. RES’s action also led to the banning of perchloroethylene in dry cleaners, the adoption of the National Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors, and the charter for Cities and Territories without Endocrine Disruptors.

TUAS has a long-standing commitment to the City of Helsinki in the fight against chemical pollution of the Baltic Sea. In particular, TUAS provides expertise to a coalition, consisting of the City of Helsinki and 3 other municipalities, which has signed a green agreement contract with the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on the use of green public procurement to reduce hazardous chemicals in kindergartens.

Founded in 1982, G2000 is the leading Austrian environmental organisation with 60,000 members. G2000 has extensive experience in coordinating projects with different partners and stakeholders in international campaigns.

FKO (eng. Buy Responsibly Foundation-BRF) is a Polish organisation that has focused on ethical and ecological alternatives since 2002. FKO implements information and education projects for consumers, companies, media, decision-makers, teachers, pupils and students,…

Founded in 1994, the Swedish Consumers’ Association is a federation of 21 member organisations in Sweden. We represent the interests of Swedish consumers at national, regional and international level. We are active members of the European consumer organisation BEUC, Consumers International and ANEC – the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation.

DetoxED is a start-up created in Gdansk 2016 that provides solutions for determining the presence of endocrine disruptors, estimating exposure and providing individual recommendations for reducing it. This project will use the Check(ED) Yourself application developed in the framework of the Interreg project NonHazCity.

Yesil Cember has been training Turkish and Arabic speakers to become environmental and food ambassadors for almost 15 years, has run projects with many households on environmental topics (energy saving, waste reduction, healthy eating) and has extensive experience in developing educational materials and courses.

Arnika is an association founded in 2001 that focuses on the fight against chemical pollution, both industrial and from everyday products. Arnika has a strong policy advocacy activity and regularly carries out chemical testing of consumer products.