February 12, 2018

‘Stop feeding ducks bread, it’s bad for everyone’

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 11:41 am

Feeding bread to ducks and other birds is part of the scenery in this country, but many of us don’t realise how bad it is for the birds and our water.

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is asking residents of the Netherlands to report (not rat out!) instances of feeding ducks (Google form) to get an idea of where and how often this happens. According to the NIOO-KNAW, there’s a discrepancy between what we say that we do and what we think the effect is, and they are trying to get a handle on it by asking people to help out.

Bread in water produces algae that is bad for the quality of the water and therefore for the birds. Bread is also bad food for ducks because besides not being a natural food source for them, it lack many nutrients ducks need and it’s full of salt.

Not feeding ducks is extremely easy to do as well.

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September 30, 2015

Dutch centuries-old bond keeps paying interest

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 3:43 pm


Two weeks ago Timothy Young, a librarian from Yale University in the USA, travelled to the Netherlands to collect 136 euro and 20 cents in interest from the water board De Stichtse Rijnlanden.

The interest was paid on a bond issued for 1,000 guilders in 1648 by the predecessor of the current board to fund the building of a groyne. At the time, the Netherlands was going through its Golden Age and the navigability of important trade routes like the main rivers was a priority (German link).

Interest on the bond must be collected at least once every generation, Yale News reports. The bond (issued by the water board of Lekdijk Bovendams) remains one of the oldest known living financial instruments in the world as long as interest is collected—the reason that Yale, which paid 24,000 euro for it in 2003 according to Bloomberg, is keen to collect those payments.

The document is a bearer bond, meaning the issuer needs to see it before paying out interest. The issuer will then write the payment date on the document. This would have provided a bit of a problem for Yale, because carting around a 367-year-old sheep skin across the airways might be detrimental to its health. Luckily, space on the bond proper already ran out in 1944 and in the same year an allonge was attached to it for keeping track of the payment dates. The water board allows the bearer to simply show the allonge.

The water board has records of five other bonds that still generate interest payments. The oldest of these was issued in 1624 for 1,200 guilders, also by the water board Lekdijk Bovendams. The same water board issued bonds for a total of 300,000 guilders in the first half of the 17th century after the 32-kilometre-long eponymous dike burst numerous times, the water board writes.

Water boards are a type of parallel local government that have been around since the Middle Ages. They take care of dikes and dams, among others, in a country of which 55% of the surface area is susceptible to flooding from either the sea or from rivers. Some of these boards belong to the oldest continuous governments in the Netherlands. The water board of Lekdijk Bovendams was founded in 1323 by the bishop of Utrecht and was later managed by the king, until 1971 when it was merged with a number of other water boards into the water board Kromme Rijn, which itself was later merged into the current water board De Stichtse Rijnlanden.


(Photo of groynes at the Bovendamse Lekdijk by E. Dronkert, some rights reserved; photo of the bond by Yale University)

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July 19, 2009

Inner city cargo train system in Utrecht

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 1:28 pm

When I was a teenager, I had to bike through the narrow and windy cobblestone streets of a typically Dutch city centre to get to school, and part of that ride was spent waiting behind large, four-ton trucks delivering who knows what. Maybe it was 50 envelopes or a crate of tomatoes. It gave me the time to muse about a system where cargo was off-loaded just outside the city centre to smaller, horse-drawn carts for further distribution.

Although Utrecht-based company Cargohopper ditched the horse, they did implement this scheme for distributing goods to inner city stores to a tee. The small width, 1.25 metre, will surely lead to less irritation for the other road users.

Some figures from the company:

Cargohopper is a vehicle that can tow 3 metric tonnes in a linear line by means of a 48 Volt 28 hp electric engine. Its max speed is 20 km/h, but that is more than enough as it is only driving in the inner city of Utrecht and does not do more than 60 kilometres a day.


Once empty, it collects dry cardboard, paper and empty packaging from shops for recycling, so it never runs empty. In this way, Cargohopper removes up to 100,000 van kilometres from the inner city streets and saves about 30 tonnes of CO2 annually.

(Link: Autobloggreen. Photo: Cargohopper.)

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December 24, 2008

Ecological font

Filed under: Design,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 2:55 pm

Utrecht based ad agency Spranq made a font environmentally friendly by making holes in the glyphs. The result is called Ecofont, and according to an article by NPR, this will save its users up to 15% in ink. The idea is that you set this font, a free download, as the standard font for printing drafts and e-mails and such. Ecofont is based on the liberally licensed Bitstream Vera font.

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August 11, 2008

Air-purifying concrete for town of Hengelo

Filed under: Dutch first,Science,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:34 am
Air purifier for concrete

Hengelo, Overijssel looks to be taking a rather unique approach to cleaning the air, with it now testing out a new type of “air-purifying concrete” developed by the University of Twente that promises to soak up the nitrogen oxide particles emitted by car exhausts. This is done with the aid of a titanium dioxide-based additive which, with the help of some sunlight, binds with the nitrogen oxide particles and turns them into harmless nitrates, which can apparently just wash away with the next rain shower. Hengelo is not fully sold on the idea just yet, with it only paving half of a road now under construction with these “green bricks”, while the other half is getting paved with plain old concrete. They will then take some air measurements from each section early next year and decide whether to continue paving the town green or not.

(Link: engadget.com)

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April 6, 2008

No need to refresh car’s oil says former oil mogul

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 2:02 pm

“Refreshing your car’s oil regularly is nonsense, a myth that’s been spread by the oil and car industries for years now,” says Henk de Groot. And he should know, as he is a former CEO of Castrol Nederland. Apparently all you need to do is regularly top up the oil in your car, and check it with a special dipstick that won’t just tell you the level, but also the quality of the oil, and you should be good for hundreds of thousands of miles. Luckily for all of us, Henk de Groot just happens to have invented this magical dipstick.

De Telegraaf (Dutch) helpfully calculates that the costs of excessively refreshing your motor oil are 600 million euro per year to Dutch drivers alone, not to mention the environmental costs. “I am doing this for my grandchildren,” De Groot explains.

“But the industry’s tentacles reach far. That is why they silenced me, the interests are too big.” Nary a word about the faked moonlandings though.

I welcome links to this magic dipstick in the comments.

Via De Telegravin (Dutch). Photo by Dvortygirl, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license version 3.0.

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December 14, 2007

Meat better for the environment than T-shirts

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink,Science,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:06 am

According to the University of Twente, you’re nicer to the environment if you eat meat than wear cotton T-shirts. A cotton T-shirt takes 2,700 liters of water, while some 100 g of meat takes 1,550 liters of water and a cup of coffee 140 liters. The Wereld Natuur Fonds (World Wide Fund for Nature) plans to use the calculations in awareness-raising campaigns. “Per capita, the Netherlands uses a whole lot of very thirsty crops,” says the WNF. A Dutch person uses 100 litres of water from the tap, which is just a fraction of the 3,300 litres of water used daily in the consumption of many imported foods.

Last Monday, party leader Marianne Thieme of the Partij voor de Dieren (Dutch Party for the Animals) presented the climate film ‘Meat the Truth’, where the message was that eating meat is bad for the environment. Not so, if we believe scientists instead of politicians.

Drinking coffee is bad too because you waste water in someone else’s country (the study calls this ‘invisible water use’) and that goes for cotton T-shirts as well.

(Link: vleesmagazine.nl)

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June 29, 2007

Groningen house owners to pee sitting down

Filed under: Architecture,Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:20 am

meerstad1.jpgin a hospital sounded like a good idea, but what about in people’s homes?

Residents of the upcoming Meerstad neighbourhood in Groningen, Groningen province will probably have to pee sitting down permanently so that their urine can be separated. Contrary to the hospital that wanted to avoid putting medication in the sewage system, the environmentally friendly pee seperating project initiators, Hunze en Aa’s want to use the urine to help grow maize and cabbage. The whole point is that Meerstad is to become a really green neighbourhood.

Orangemaster’s note: it’s interested how men and small children are at a disadvantage, but not women. Just a thought.

(Link tip: ANP, via Dutch news)

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June 14, 2007

Dutch first: pee-separating toilets

Filed under: Dutch first,General,Science by Orangemaster @ 1:33 pm

In the new Maasziekenhuis (hospital) in Boxmeer, Noord-Brabant specially designed toilet bowls that separate urine from water have been installed in order to keep hormones and medication out of the Maas river. This also means that men have to pee sitting down, as the bowls are fitted with the usual flush mecanism, but have a hole on the inside to catch pee. Aiming is required.

This is the first time in the Netherlands that urine is treated this way.

(Link: Omroep Brabant)

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May 27, 2007

Eco toilet idea not very attractive

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:02 am

The Vismarkt area in the city of Utrecht, province of Utrecht has a sewage problem and the city is working on it. In the mean time, the city has asked the residents to use biological products and an eco toilet (probably not the one shown here) and yeah, they’re not happy about it. However, there are businesses on that street and even though some of them are willing to use bio dishwashing liquid, asking paying customers to use a camping-like eco-toilet is not going to happen. And these residents pay money for using the sewers, they should be able to do so as they please.

(Link: ad)

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