Two young designers from Delft have started making desk lamps, trouser belts, jewelry and even bicycles from impounded bicycles.
Industrial design student Lodewijk Bosman, 25, and Hidde van der Straaten, 28, founded “The Upcycle” in university city Delft in January 2012 to exploit a typically Dutch problem. With so many bikes [in the Netherlands] come parking problems, and if they are left in the wrong place or simply abandoned, the authorities pick them up and take them to the pound.
Lodewijk and Hidde [buy these] abandoned bikes and parts [...].
A Upcycle bedside lamp, priced at 88 euro, consists of a bike light with a new LED bulb fitted to a stem made of a few chain links and intertwined spokes — all standing on a wooden base wrapped in plaited inner tubes.
Dutch cities impound tens of thousands of bikes each year. Sometimes they are oprhan bicycles, abandoned by their last owner, but often cities just steal bikes under the guise of keeping bicycle parking manageable and keeping the streets clean. The bikes are stored at a depot, which in the case of Amsterdam, is far way from downtown. The rightful owners can retrieve their bikes after paying a fee—a fine, as the city spin doctors call it. The depot is so far out of town that there is even a cab service in Amsterdam that advertises its rides to the depot. As a result, lots of people don’t bother collecting their bikes, and those that are not retrieved are sold off to second-hand bike shops and to The Upcycle apparently.
(Photo: The Upcycle)
Tags: Delft University of Technology, lamps
A Dutch company has started building a mobile phone that they say is made from conflict-free materials by well-paid workers while also addressing what happens once the phone has reached the end of its life.
The phone is called the Fairphone and the manufacturer is still looking for customers who would like to pre-order one. Apparently they need 5,000 orders to start production. Currently they’ve sold 2,400 phones, 48% of their goal. The pledge drive lasts for 19 more days. Techcrunch calls this the world’s first ethically sourced smartphone.
The Fairphone runs on Android, uses a quad core processor, has dual SIM trays and both a front and rear camera. The price is 325 euro.
UPDATE 6 June: they have their 5,000 orders and have crowdfunded 1,6 million euro.
(Video: Vimeo / Fairphone, Image: crop from the video)
Tags: fair trade, mobile phones, Smartphones, Waag Society
Last week Holland.com published a video advert in which a cocky narrator explains why ‘Holland’ is the original cool. He contrasts posh English phrases with the down-to-earth words the Dutch supposedly use, such as ‘food’ instead of ‘artisanal cooking’.
The video above is a parody that appeared shortly after — I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been made by the same ad agency — in which the original visuals are replaced. ‘Artisanal cooking’ is suddenly contrasted with pulling a croquette from a street-side vending machine and ’boutique shopping’ becomes the Saturday morning Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket) run. Added in for good measure is the world famous Dutch ‘service’, a concept so alien that the language doesn’t even has its own word for it and defaults to the French word (although we generally pronounce it the English way).
The original advert caused a minor uproar in the Netherlands, with pundits reacting strongly to the fact that most of the footage is shot in either Amsterdam or greater Amsterdam. Elsevier lists the complaints.
Personally, I think it is a great advert. It highlights the open manner in which the Dutch speak to the point of being abrasive and presents this as charming and desirable. The heavy Dutch accent spoken by everybody in the video underlines the exaggerated, almost cartoonish tone of the video. Our English really isn’t that good, but the message the viewer takes away is that it’s good enough to get by when visiting the country. This entire presentation helps smuggle in a lot of fact-free content, stressing great food for example even though our culinary tradition is mostly one of Calvinistic soberness (as long as you stay north of the great rivers), and pointing out our traditional use of wind energy even though nowadays our record for renewable energy is one of the worst in Europe.
(Video: YouTube / DoLeaveItOutMate. Photo: crop from the video)
Tags: Albert Heijn, croquette, Dutch cooking, FEBO, kroket, marketing, shopping, vending machines
The BlackStarBike has a unique bamboo frame that is ecologically sound and ‘as solid as steel’. The company has two secret weapons: bamboo from the West of Ghana and cactus fibres from the North, processed in an innovative way, giving the bikes their unique, woodsy look. As well, a large part of the profits from the sales of BlackStarBikes goes to craftspeople in Ghana.
During the years we lived and worked in Africa, one of the issues that kept us thinking is the lack of export of manufactured goods. Africa provides enormous amounts of raw materials, from crude oil to tea, cocoa and coffee, but what does Africa manufacture? Africa’s raw materials are shipped to western countries and to China, to be processed there. In other words, African countries are unable to enjoy the maximum of profits from their natural resources. The profits made by a Ghanaian farmer on a bag of cocoa beans are low, but the profits made by household chocolate brands, which contain those very same beans, are very high.
(Link: blackstarbikes.nl, Photo of BlackStarBike by Zapdelight, some rights reserved)
Tags: bamboo, Ghana
‘Room for the River’ is a Dutch state project that intends to widen the floodplains of the major rivers.
The project does something that is quite rare for the Dutch, it gives land back to the water. In 1993 and 1995 we had major river floods, the latter even leading to the evacuation of 250,000 people. Geographically, the Netherlands is a river delta, and the Dutch have always had to live with river floods. However, today the population pressure has made the consequences of floods much more expensive.
As the project website says: “The rivers are wedged between increasingly higher dikes behind which more and more people live. At the same time, the land behind the dikes has sunk. It is also raining more often and harder, causing rivers to swell. Water levels are rising and so is the chance of floods with a large impact on people, animals, infrastructure and the economy.”
The New York Times has visited one of those projects and uses it for an opinion piece on how big government is good.
Short read: The Ruimte voor de Rivier site has Nine easy infographics on how to give the river room.
(Photo: Waal beach by Rijkswaterstaat / Ruimte voor de Rivier / Martin van Lokven)
Tags: dikes, dykes, flooding, floodplains, floods, geography, infographics, polders, river delta, rivers, USA, water management
A year ago we told you about a lab in Maastricht that was growing synthetic meat, which was really expensive to make and should have been ready to grill in the fall of 2012.
The long-awaited lab-grown meat is now a reality, but researcher Mark Post wants to have at least two pieces of meat before he does any grilling, which again could take many more months. The goal is to have the two pieces of meat prepared by English chef Heston Blumenthal, owner of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK who is very much into molecular-level cooking.
Tags: cooking, meat
According to our sources, Amsterdam has just launched an electric scooter taxi service called Hopper, although Hopper’s press release mentioned as of October 1. “For a fixed rate of EUR 2.50 a ride, as long as the final destination is within city limits. The project is a private-public cooperation with the City of Amsterdam, Dutch Railways (NS) and the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment and helps solve metropolitan transportation problems.”
Hopper apparently took five years of planning, is only available downtown, the Zuidas business district and the RAI exhibition hall area, and runs on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm. You can order a Hopper by phone or a smartphone but not yet (they don’t say iPhone or Android). The goal is to expand to Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, aka the Randstad conurbation.
Although A+ for effort, the part I have to chip away at is when they state that, “scooters in Amsterdam are limited to a top speed of 25 km/h, which means customers (and their drivers, for that matter) can ride without helmets.” Yes, the helmet bit is true, but the last thing cyclists in Amsterdam need right now is more scooter traffic on bike paths. This year Amsterdam’s parking enforcement officers set the worst possible example by doing dangerous things such as driving over the limit and against cycling traffic. The amount of scooters that go over 25 km/h on bike paths is surely more than half. I’m not saying Hoppers drive too fast, but I’m not convinced they won’t try.
I would consider making use of this service, although in the weekend and surely after 8 pm, but that’s just me. If anyone out there has actually used or even seen one of these, let us know. It’s all nice and green to have electric vehicles on the streets of Amsterdam, but like any other means of transportation they also cause their own set of problems. It would be great to be able to pay so little to get around town regularly, as taxis start at EUR 7,50.
(Link: green.autoblog.com, Photo by Facemepls, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, scooters, taxi
A study by broadcaster NOS shows that owners of plug-in hybrid eletric cars use “80 percent more fuel than the fuel economy estimates found in the manufacturers’ specifications”, Autoblog writes.
The article suggests that car owners buy their Priuses for the government rebates more than for saving the environment. Government incentives include “no purchase tax, zero percent additional tax liability and no road tax until 2016″ according to the article. Car owners can request charging stations near their house according to Verkeersnet. The city of Utrecht even throws in a free parking spot.
On average the drivers in the study paid 73 euro more per month than expected by using petrol when they could be using electricity.
Some of the people in the study managed to only achieve a petrol use of 13 kilometres per litre, others got to a far more respectable 250 kilometres per litre.
(Photo by DaveOnFlickr, some rights reserved)
Tags: hybrid cars, Toyota Prius
Dutch company VolkerWessels has just unveiled a Dutch invention called the HERA System (Highly Ecological Recycling Asphalt System), which is said to recycle asphalt “cleaner, better and cheaper”. The first HERA in the world was recently installed at the Rotterdam Asphalt Plant.
Asphalt is normally produced and recycled by directly heating raw materials. The HERA System reuses almost 100% of old asphalt, has much lower harmful gas emissions and saves on costs. As well, the asphalt produced is of high quality and last longer.
The HERA System was developed together with Swiss company Ammann, a major player in asphalt production facilities.
Watch the corporate Dutch video with drummers and cooking meat comparisons.
(Link: www.agentschapnl.nl, Photo VolkerWessels)
Tags: asphalt, Rotterdam
Back in 2008 a concert raised money to develop the laddermill, a sustainable invention by former astronaut Wubbo Ockels (shown here), and today Ockel’s Kite Power research group from the Delft University of Technology will be showcasing a wind energy system using kites at the Maasvlakte 2 shore in South Holland.
The Kite Power Team explains that Kite Power is a type of wind energy where a radiographically controlled kite generates electricity. A single cable attached to the kite is pulled and released from the base station every two minutes, spinning a drum that in turn powers a generator. Pulling the kite takes energy, but less than it is generated. The kite can fly up to 900 metres and be used to generate electricity fully automatically, which is its major asset.
(Link: home.tudelft.nl, Photo of Wubbo Ockels courtesy of Emmanuelle)
Tags: Delft University of Technology, electricity, Maasvlakte, Wubbo Ockels