A talk with Katja Lumme, Eindhovens first climate mayor!

Type: Green Initiatives

Every month, someone engaged with Trefpunt Groen Eindhoven gives his or her green perspectives on the city and beyond. This month we interviewed Katja Lumme, involved in our international Green Café and now Eindhoven's first international climate mayor (klimaatburgemeester). 

From an early age 

We meet Katja at our office, in the city she moved to from Finland in 2011. A few years earlier she had already lived here for her design studies. Katja told us about her childhood in Finland and the relationship with sustainability that her upbringing brought her. Although she grew up in the city, she spent her summers in Finnish nature. The cottage they stayed in every year was by one of the country's many lakes, in the middle of nature. With no running water and a compost toilet, Katja experienced early in her childhood what it is like to live from nature. She ate mainly from the vegetable garden and learned to wild-pick berries and mushrooms from her grandmother*. Katja has a connection with the seasons and nature since an early age. 



A sustainable Eindhoven 

The real realisation came for Katja at age 14, when she saw a video depicting animals slaughtered for meat. 'We take too much of everything'. She has become increasingly aware of the human impact on nature and the world. She enjoys volunteering to help with initiatives such as 'Adopeer een straat’ and ‘Troep Troopers'. In 2020, Katja volunteered at Zero Waste Netherlands. There she met Natascha, with whom she set up Eindje Groen not much later.  While cleaning up litter and touring sustainable places in Eindhoven, Katja tells participants all about sustainability in Eindhoven. 



First international climate mayor in Eindhoven  

Katja has been climate mayor since this autumn, the first without Dutch as a first language. Together with Arne Steemers, Youp Lamb, and Judith Lammers, she is committed to improving the climate in Eindhoven. Like the other climate mayors, Katja hopes above all to inspire people to make a difference. In addition, she would like to be the link between climate policy and the English-speaking community of Eindhoven, and bring zero-waste and sustainability to their attention. She also wants to make you, the reader, think about your Black Friday, Sinterklaas and Christmas purchases. Does the recipient of the gift really need it, and are you open to giving or receiving second-hand gifts? What about giving and receiving experiences? Buying less costs nothing, and can even save you time, money and energy. 



We couldn't resist asking Katja for tips, since sustainability is intimidating or difficult for some. We listed them here for you; 

  • Normalise buying and giving used items. This can be done at the thrift shop (kringloopwinkel) or flea market, as well as online via Marktplaats or Vinted for clothes and books;  

  • Children often don't even notice when they get something second-hand that still looks nice; 

  • The market is automatically packaging-free! Katja tips us the one on Wilhelminaplein on Saturday. Grab a basket at the vegetable stand, put what you need in it and checkout! Just as easy as at the supermarket; 

  • Ask at the vegetable stall what is in season! This is sustainable, healthy and cheap too;   

  • Find out more about fast fashion, for example here;

  • Don't order or buy clothes from outside the EU. They have fewer or no rules on the use of chemicals and fair working conditions;  

  • Use what you have! Chic travel cutlery? A fork and knife from your cutlery drawer works just as fine. If you'd rather not take your silverware with you, you can also buy yourself a beautiful pre-loved fork, knife or spoon for on the go at the thrift store;   

  • It's okay to buy second-hand appliances. For instance, many shops nowadays have a good check of used/refurbished smartphones;  

  • Learn to repair! Or take your clothes, bags, shoes or other items to a dressmaker or cobbler if you don't have the talent, time or knowledge yourself; 

  • You never need anything new for a party! Something second-hand, borrowed or from your own closet will look great on you;  

  • Use your voice, during elections, but also when writing to companies, for example when you see unnecessary packaging or can't find sustainable menu options;  

  • The bathroom is the easiest place to start with packaging-free products. Many brands have 'shampoo bars' these days, or use a bar of soap;  

  • You can always refuse stickers, cards, stamps, packaging and flyers;  

  • Inspire others;  

  • Eat plant-based more often;  

  • Consider renting or borrowing tools;  

  • Support small businesses, for example by having a cup of coffee or buying something from a small shop instead of a big chain;  

  • Don't see sustainability as something you have to give up a lot for, it's actually a lot of fun!  

  • Above all, don't set the bar too high for yourself. 

Want to see more from Katja? You can follow her on Instagram, or check out the Eindje Groen website and instagram.

*In Finland, picking wild mushrooms and berries is more common due to the sparse population and vast nature. We do not recommend it in the Netherlands. 

Photo's; Katja Lumme