“Save our planet and inspire other people at the same time.”
05.05.2021 | Family
In 2018, Nikolas Sterck, Ellen Dictus and their two little boys, Arthur and Jules, discovered a sustainable life concept. It started as a challenge: “What can we do to save our planet, in all aspects of our family life?” In matters of mobility, they got rid of one of their two electric cars and used a Riese & Müller Load 75 for their daily errands. The vision of a sustainable life took on a life of its own. Today, Sustainable Family is their blog and Instagram alias, inspiring people in their home country Belgium and far beyond.
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The family next door.
They live in a detached house with a garden patch, in a quiet suburban neighbourhood near Antwerp. Nikolas was an IT entrepreneur, specializing in User Experience Design, and Ellen was working as a Dutch teacher. Their two boys, Arthur and Jules, blonde like the sun and with about the same energy level, needed a lot of parental care and attention. Nikolas and Ellen had owned two cars, both of which were equipped with an electric engine.
Becoming Sustainable Family.
With the birth of their first son, Arthur, Nikolas and Ellen started being fascinated by the vision of a sustainable lifestyle. And once they started to get going along this path, it almost instantly widened to a highway. “We started to live as sustainably as possible as a family – in all aspects, physically and mentally,” Nikolas recalls. “We reflected on our nutrition, our mobility, energy consumption and everything else.” A great journey had begun, with a noble goal: making a positive contribution to society and doing something good for the planet with their lives.
Nevertheless, Nikolas and Ellen knew that, as an individual family, they were limited to lowering their own ecological footprint. “That’s why we concentrate on our social media activities, especially on Instagram. We wanted to create a platform to present our approach to a bigger audience and inspire other people to find their way to a more sustainability-based life.”
Today, they have close to 19.000 followers. They quit their jobs, got rid of one car of their cars and replaced it with a Load 75. They set up a web shop and created a curriculum of e-learning courses for a vegan diet, Yoga lessons and other offers. Why Yoga? “Because we believe that looking after yourself is an important aspect of a sustainable life: you can only help the world if you care for yourself.”
Load 75: the vehicle of choice for most errands.
With the Load, Nikolas and Ellen close more distance than with their remaining electric car. “We generally prefer the cargo bike,” Nikolas admits. “The car tires, for example, also pollute nature more than bike tires do because of the rubber abrasion on the asphalt. Whenever you go by car, you will always take part in traffic and contribute to clogging up city space.”
The family even fetched their Christmas tree with the Load riding to a nearby farm to choose it. In January, they took it to a recycling centre since they don’t like the idea of their family Christmas tree being burned. As composted organic waste, it can still serve a purpose for the planet.
“Riding an E-Bike frees your mind.”
With that in mind, the family took a month in summer 2020 to travel 1.500 kilometres through the Netherlands. “These days it seems like a great holiday needs to involve flying around the world.” A concept that needs to be proven wrong. “I’m not saying you can never take a plane. But a plane should not be a necessity to turn a trip into a holiday. Travelling with an E-Bike, on the other hand, completely frees your mind.”
The family experienced this first-hand with their two boys: on their passenger seats in the cargo box, they entered a kind of meditative state. “Riding through nature in the Load has a soothing effect on them,” says Nikolas. Naturally, the boys quarrel sometimes, so Nikolas and Ellen added a child seat on the bike rack. “We are really happy about this opportunity to give one of the boys a little timeout thanks to the robust bike rack that can carry some extra weight.”
The Sterck-Dictus family loves to travel light and shorter distances, about 40 kilometres each day. They have a little trailer attached to their Loads with their tents and sleeping bags in it, not too many clothes. “We prefer travelling in a laid-back fashion, so that we and our boys can really enjoy the trip. We can make the most of our trip thanks to the E-Bikes because we travel faster and more effortlessly, so we will not struggle with fatigue that might come with the use of a normal bike.”
They must have been an unusual sight to any passer-by: a family with two young boys, riding on a cargo bike, heavily loaded. It was obvious to everybody that they were on a road trip. “It was great fun to see all the people looking at us, knowing that they would grasp the idea and be happy with us.”
Overall, the family had a wonderful trip, nothing short of pure romance. They had started at their front door and a month later, with their hearts full of beautiful experiences, they arrived back there, right where their journey had begun.