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Why support Greenpeace?

Ever since I was a kid, I felt deeply touched by environmental problems and all injustice that was done to our planet and wild animals.

So the moment I learned there was this organization, Greenpeace, occupied with protecting this planet, I felt very much drawn to it. I remember setting up these funny campaigns to earn some money, so we could donate it to Greenpeace.

It took me till adolescence, though, to really start engaging my time and effort. In 2003 I enrolled in a training with Greenpeace to become a green- and peaceful activist. That’s where I first saw how the fulltime activists and employees work with heart and soul, long hours and are extremely professional.

Caroline Dossche was the first one I met at Greenpeace , since she interviewed me to check if I was capable of being a non-violent-direct activist. She is a very enthusiastic person, who has the amazing capacity of bringing people together and engage them for the same goal. A women with a mission!

Caroline Dossche

It’s a great honor to interview her now for Planet Ohm 🙂

When did your engagement for the environment start to grow?

I’ve always felt engaged for the world, the planet, the environment, I think since I was aware of the existence of it. But my awareness and engagement grew more and more after I participated as photographer in the project ‘Walk Across America for Mother Earth’ in 1992: a group of people from Belgium, Americans and Native Americans, walking from the UN in New York till the Nuclear Testsite in Nevada: a walk of 5000 km in 9 months! This protest walk was organised in 1992 by a group of very engaged people ‘For Mother Earth’ (in Gent) to protest against the 500th ‘anniversary’ of the ‘discovery’ (= invasion) of Columbus in America with all its consequences: the suppression of the Native Americans.

Caroline aan Zee

We also walked against the nuclear testing, still happening at that time, on the land of the Western Shoshone in Nevada. At the end of this Walk I was involved in a ‘back-country’ action on the Nevada Nuclear Testsite, stopping/postponing the second last nuclear test before negotiations began for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. These 9 months walkin through America, the 3 days of preparation for the action we did and witnessing the big craters from all the above-ground nuclear tests since 1951, changed my life. I could not close my eyes anymore for all the environmental injustice.

So how did you become a member of the Greenpeace crew? Did you start as a volunteer or as a staff member? Did you work for other organizations too?

When I came back after 1 year from this Walk Across America, I decided to become an volunteer-activist with Greenpeace in Belgium. Greenpeace has its foundations in the anti-nuclear movement, which I found an advantage, and they’re always looking for volunteer-activists. This was in 1993. For several years I could help Greenpeace in their actions, not only in Belgium. I did actions all over Europe, in Panama, India, …
I also kept helping out the organisation ‘For Mother Earth’, and in 1995 we organised again a protest-walk, this time from Brussels to Moscow, to protest against nuclear energy and the nuclear testing done by France in the Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. We walked from Brussels to Paris, Cherbourg, through the south of England, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech, Slovakia, Ukraine, along the ruins of Chernobyl, Belyorussia, Russia, ending on the Red Square in Moscow.

After years of being a volunteer-activist at Greenpeace Belgium, I was offered a job in 2001 at Greenpeace in the action team and as coordinator of the activists. Which I’m still doing today.

What is the issue that got to you the most? What was your major motivation for you to come to action?

I believe that everything is connected: it’s not because so much damage was done to land and nature and so many human rights were violated on the other side of the world, that we should not care! The destruction of land, nature etc. for power or other reasons touches me very deeply as well as the ignorance of some people.

I’m also very touched how a part of the world deals with food: the use of pesticides, throwing away food, the gap between organic and ‘regular’ food and who can afford what, …

I want to quickly see changes in the slow investing in ‘sustainable’ energy and the plans to keep the nuclear powerplants open longer. What gives me hope are the many citizen projects, promoting plenty of positive alternatives, togetherness, change, …

How do you live according to your ideals? Did you have to make any sacrifice for it?

I don’t have the feeling I made many sacrifices in terms of comfort. I’ve been trying to live a consistent life, most of my life. Years ago, I used to have a van to travel with, but I gave it up because it was too old and therefore too polluting. I live in the city in a not too big low-energy apartment, I have my bike, I love walking and if I travel through Europe, I take the train. I’ve been a vegetarian since I’m 15, so, most of my life. I don’t miss anything.

How do keep up with your positive world vision with the crazy shifts happening on a political level?

To be honest, lately and now and than, after another political decision with negative impact on the environment, I feel some despair entering my life. Or when the economical side overrules the ecological part. I guess this happens when one has been an environmentalist most of her/his life. But than I see the ‘movement’ reacting, gathering to show the alternatives, protesting in the streets, … and than I’m convinced again that the ‘battle’ is not over yet!

Do you think food has an important role to play in the change we need in the world? Could you give us some practical advice on how to behave as a consumer?

I think food has a crucial place in the fight for a more sustainable world!
For one: there are so many people in the world, they all have to eat to stay alive, and there is still this incredible big gap between the poor and the rich in this world.

So many people are so poor or live in a place where it’s difficult to find food (because of poverty, war, …) or can’t get to qualitative food. A lot of farmers in the world get peanuts for the food they produce.

To provide cheap food, the industry abuses animals in their short life, which often ends in scandals (fipronil, dioxine, …)
In my personal life, I go for ,as much as possible, local and seasonal food and I eat vegetarian/vegan. I’m also supporting fairtrade but mainly for products which can only be found in far-away countries such as pepper and some other herbs, chocolate, some nuts, some grains, coffee, rum 🙂

I prefer to buy honey, wine, beer, … more locally and organic, because I’m not in favour to import all organic food from far away. And this is also a good way to support the small local breweries, wineries and beekeepers!

What is your dream for humanity for the next 10 years?

I hope more and more people become aware of the dangers of using pesticides as Roundup, and that the ban of these heavy pesticides gets banned by politics! I hope that sustainable energy becomes the standard in the very near future! I hope quality food will be easily available for everyone soon! I hope clearcutting of our forests will stop very soon! I also hope that people don’t have to flee their homes anymore because of war. Unfortunately, I’m not completely naive and know that several of these ‘dreams’ will remain dreams. But hope springs eternal!

Where do you see yourself in this dream?

On a personal level I hope to keep on supporting lots of positive projects, locally and globally. I want to keep ‘walking the walk and talking the talk’. I want to keep fighting for a more sustainable world in which everyone finds a place. Fingers crossed!