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June 27, 2016

One step closer to cleaning up the oceans

Filed under: Design,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 12:42 pm

Boyan Slat, the young Dutch inventor who came up with an inventive way of cleaning up the oceans, has recently unveiled the prototype of his ‘ambitious sea-cleaning device’ in Scheveningen, South Holland.

“Why move through the ocean if the ocean can move through you?” Slat asked at a press conference during the unveiling. He plans to use a 100-kilometre long V-shaped barrier made up of large, rubber pillow-shaped buoys floating on the ocean surface that trail a three-metre long curtain from its arms into the water.

Slat hopes to fully roll out the system in 2020, which could capture up to 3,000 cubic metres of plastic soup. Find out more at The Ocean Clean Up.

(Link: phys.org, Photo: screenshot of Tedx presentation)

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June 17, 2016

Denim tents set up at Oerol festival

Filed under: Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

denim-tent

For Oerol, a cultural festival on the island of Terschelling held annually in June, the very first BlueCAMP jeans tents will be set up, although they are not yet available for purchase. The tents are said to be water-resistant, can breathe, and are made from 25% old denim, with the hopes of that percentage going up in the future. Their ground sheets are made of Recuppasta, a sustainable plastic made from old bits of tarpaulin.

The entire complicated process of recycling people’s old denim is done in the Netherlands and Belgium. Apparently, the average Dutch person has six pairs of jeans in their wardrobe, and earlier this year we told you about the country’s denim obssession, which means collecting old denim in the lowlands at festivals sounds like a plan.

(Link and photo: www.bright.nl)

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May 1, 2016

Inventor of bike sharing explains why his plan never caught on in Amsterdam

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 4:59 pm

white-bikes-hoge-veluwe-ellywaAlthough bike share systems are increasingly popular all over the world, they have failed to catch on in Amsterdam, the city where bike sharing was invented.

British newspaper The Guardian asked the inventor of bike sharing, Luud Schimmelpennink, about the reason behind this lack of popularity.

In the mid-1960s members of the Provo movement were asking all kinds of questions of the Dutch establishment (the name Provo stands for provocation) and they were not liking the answers they were getting. Young engineer Luud Schimmelpennink was tackling the question of personal transport. In 1965 he proposed and implemented an alternative to the “gaudy and filthy motor car”, the white bicycle.

Schimmelpennink envisioned bikes that weren’t locked and that would be left wherever their riders needed to be. Provo painted 20 bicycles white and left them in the city, but these bikes were promptly impounded by the police.

“The first Witte Fietsenplan was just a symbolic thing,” Schimmelpennink told the Guardian last week. “We painted a few bikes white, that was all. Things got more serious when I became a member of the Amsterdam city council two years later.”

“My idea was that the municipality of Amsterdam would distribute 10,000 white bikes over the city, for everyone to use. I made serious calculations. It turned out that a white bicycle – per person, per kilometre – would cost the municipality only 10% of what it contributed to public transport per person per kilometre.”

The council soundly rejected his plan and told him that they saw a great future for the private motor car. This inspired Schimmelpennink to work on his White Car Plan instead – still using clean(ish) energy.

There is a phrase in Dutch – de wet van de remmende voorsprong, meaning ‘the law of the handicap of a head start’. The fact that Amsterdam was the first to experiment with bike sharing perhaps helps explain why it is late in its implementation. Or perhaps Amsterdam doesn’t need a bike share scheme, because everybody either owns a bike or can readily rent one from OV Fiets or the many bike shops in the city.

Schimmelpennink’s vision wasn’t wasted though, as he inspired other cities throughout the world to implement their own bike sharing schemes. And even his own plan got implemented, just not in Amsterdam. The Hoge Veluwe nature reserve has bikes that have been painted white and that are free to use. The program started in 1974 with 50 bikes and exists to this day. It currently consists of 1,800 bicycles.

(Photo of white bicycles in Hoge Veluwe by Ellywa, some rights reserved)

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April 25, 2016

Charging up your phone while you fidget

Filed under: Design,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am

Moov

For those of us who can’t still still, imagine sitting or moving around in your chair and charging your mobile phone at the same time. Thanks to Dutch designer Nathalie Teugels, you’ll be able to do just that: her chair called MOOV has 288 piezoelectric crystals under the seat cushion that produces electricity when it’s compressed.

Teugels was told way too often to ‘sit still’ and instead of catering to that, she decided to design something that would embrace the fidgeting, especially people with ADD. In fact, sitting upright in the chair can charge it up as well, so it’s a win-win for anyone sitting down. The chair is currently a working prototype, so we’ll have to sit tight for a while until we can get one.

If someone could do that with the utterly useless and annoying habit of pen clicking, I’d be a tad less misophonic. I actually carry pens around to switch them out to people who click them.

NTEUGELS PRESENTS MOOV from RAHVICE on Vimeo.

(Links: mentalfloss.com, photo: nteugels.tumblr.com)

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April 17, 2016

Make your own plastic reuse devices

Filed under: Design,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

plastic-bag-kate-ter-haar

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens has created devices described as ‘a solution to plastic pollution’ that people can download and build themselves. The series is called Precious Plastic machines, which uses everyday materials and basic tools Hakkens says are available around the world.

Precious Plastic machines include a shredder, extruder, injection moulder and a rotation moulder, which can all be used to turn waste plastic into new products. Hakkens first showed prototype versions at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show in 2013, and has spent the last two years refining the designs.

Hakkens wants to deal with the reported 311 million tonnes of plastic waste humans create every year, of which less than 10 per cent is actually recycled. “A lot of things we have are made from plastic. It’s used everywhere, but it also ends up everywhere, damaging our planet.”

In late 2013 Hakkens partnered up with Motorola in order to create mobile phones to combat electronic waste: not throwing out an entire phone and swapping out a broken component instead.

(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo by Kate ter Haar, some rights reserved)

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March 23, 2016

Robot falcon wins Tech Transfer award in Ljubljana

Filed under: Animals,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:02 pm

geese-don-deboldA mechanic peregrine falcon was named the best innovation of the year at the European Robotics Forum in Ljubljana this week, Tubantia reports.

The winning robot is called Robird and is made by Clear Flight Solutions from Enschede, a spin-off of the University of Twente. It mimics the flight of the peregrine falcon and is used to keep the air space near airports clear from birds such as geese.

In an interview in 2014 with RTV Noord Holland (see below), CEO Nico Nijenhuis said that real falcons will only hunt when hungry. They also tire quickly. “Once [a peregrine falcon] has made two flights in a row, it’s really tired. [Our robot] on the other hand keeps going. You swap out a battery and it’s good to go.”

Clear Flight Solutions received 1.6 million euro in funding from the Cottonwood Technology Fund last week and is in talks with Schiphol Airport for a pilot project [pun unavoidable]. Nijenhuis told RTL Nieuws last week: “Dutch rules are very strict, but we expect to have our paperwork in order within six weeks.”

See also: Scaring off seagulls with drones in Haarlem

(Photo of geese flying by Don DeBold, some rights reserved)

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March 5, 2016

Book exchange in Nijmegen made of dead trees

Filed under: General,Literature,Nature,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 9:57 pm

street-library-nijmegen-branko-collin

This charming little street library was spotted today by us in the Lindenholt neighbourhood of Nijmegen. It’s made of tree trunks with added plastic curtains shielding books from the elements. Patrons are supposed to swap books, which means take one out, put one of your their own back in. The tree was placed there in 2014. Two other book trees have been added to the neighbourhood since.

The idea of using real dead trees to house the proverbial ones is not new. A German project that aims to promote women in construction, Baufachfrau, has been adding similar kiosks to the streets of Berlin since 2006 as part of the international Bookcrossing project.

In our neck of the woods, Amsterdam, it’s actually a bit trendy for houses to feature ‘outdoor bookcases’ (‘buiten boekenkasten’), but then Google shows us it’s cool throughout the country.

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February 22, 2016

Dutch supermarket hires cook to counter food waste

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 2:44 pm

The Plus supermarket in Winterswijk, Gelderland has a cook on staff that makes meals from the food close to its best-before date and sells it to customers, a Dutch first according to the supermarket.

While France has been making headlines with its legislation banning supermarkets from throwing away food (a great idea that doesn’t quite work yet), the Dutch have been giving away their expired food to food banks for a long time, not feeling the need to legislate what seems like doing the right thing. French supermarkets can also get rid of their food in a way that it becomes animal feed and compost rather than feed people.

In the Netherlands, even if food is expired and OK to eat, it has to be thrown out by law, and that didn’t sit well with supermarket owner Jeroen Bruggers. He got creative and hired a cook last autumn, Sander-Jan Bats, who makes meals with food that is about to expire. Bats, 32, who has been cooking food since he was 15, cooks in an open kitchen with his colleagues and says he enjoys the challenge. The meals cost no more than 4 euro and are freshly made, a big hit with customers. Bruggers hopes other supermarkets pick up the idea.

(Link: www.achterhoeknieuwswinterswijk.nl, Photo of an endive potato mash with meatless sausage by Jasja Dekker, some rights reserved)

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February 19, 2016

A solar-powered bike with endless battery power

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 4:21 pm

Dutch_Solar_Cycle

Dutch start-up Solar Application Lab (SAL) has developed a solar-powered bicycle in collaboration with the Eindhoven University of Technology, Segula from Eindhoven and E-Bike Nederland from Cuijk. The prototype, nicknamed ‘Sally One’, will be presented next week at the university after which it will be thoroughly tested to see if it holds up in different weather conditions and against vandalism.

“The Dutch Solar Cycle is our flagship application, an electrical bicycle with endless battery power. By applying custom built solar discs to the universal component of a bicycle, the wheels, we enhance the personal freedom of all cyclists. Founder Marc Peters explains that they have developed a technique that is 20 times more effective than current solar cells, making it possible to generate enough energy using smaller surfaces like on bikes.”

(Links and photo: www.bright.nl, www.tue.nl)

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January 27, 2016

‘Lab grown meat to hit shops in five years’

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:03 am

Newly founded Dutch company Mosa Meat wants to see lab grown meat in supermarkets in five years’ time. One of the owners of the company, Dutch researcher Mark Post of Maastricht University, was behind the growing of pieces of muscle in a lab, claiming that synthetic meat could reduce the environmental footprint of meat by up to 60%. The original lab meat cost 290,000 euro to produce.

Together with Dutch food expert Peter Verstraate Mosa Meat plans to sell lab meat for 10 to 20 euro a kilo, a price that would go down if this ever become a reality and a consumer habit. A select group of people tasted the lab meat in London in 2013 and you can watch a short video on how that went. English chef Richard McGowan prepared burgers, and not Heston Blumenthal as initially suggested. The critics were positive about the taste of lab meat.

“I think most people just don’t realise that the current meat production is at its maximum and is not going to supply sufficient meat for the growing demand in the next 40 years, so we need to come up with an alternative,” Post explains.

There’s already a cookbook for lab meat on standby.

(Link: www.bright.nl)

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