January 14, 2019

Dutchman makes bicycle from recycled plastic

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 12:50 pm

Inspired by a two-year stay in Mexico City where designer Thomas Hoogewerf saw plastic strewn about town and lots of car traffic, he decided to design a bicycle, addressing both problems at once and called it the ‘Better to transport’ project.

Most of the prototype is make from plastic, although the chain is made from steel. Hoogewerf explains that the bicycle is still not perfect, and has had help from Precious Plastic, a worldwide network of people who build recycling machines. He has also received help from people in India and the United States to help improve the frame and the front fork.

The idea is to point out, at the very least, the problem of mobility and used plastic in a city of millions.

It’s easy to have a discussion about cities being more bike friendly when you come from the Netherlands or Denmark, but the added value of making a bicycle out of rubbish as it were makes a statement and can be applied elsewhere in the world where there are similar problems.

One good thing about having a bicycle made from plastic is that if something breaks, you can replace it easily enough. And plastic doesn’t rust – great for big cities with a lot of rain. As well, the plastic is free and ripe for the picking.

(Link and photo: vice.com)

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May 24, 2018

Dutch app helps you sort your recycling

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:34 pm

On 23 May, Dutch company Sitio IT launched the free phone app EcoScan for Android and iOS that helps you figure out in what recycling bin you need to sort things you’re throwing out.

In the Netherlands, there are bins for paper, plastic, glass and a few more that makes life complicated, and every municipality seems to have different bins as well. And you don’t want to be that person who puts an old lamp bulb in with the glass and forces someone somewhere to ‘disinfect’ your mistake. Sitio IT claim that there are 10 to 15 different bins for things, and this prompted developer Rick Buiten to comp up with an app for doing the right thing easier.

By using a photo scan, EcoScan can even tell you that you’d better bring certain things to the thrift shop, as they are not meant for any bins. Although I very much like the idea, I’m going to assume it’s still being beta tested or I’m really bad at scanning, as I’ve just tried it plastic, paper and glass, and it didn’t recognised any of them. And it’s only available in Dutch, but it’s point and click.

(Link: bright.nl)

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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


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 23, 2016

Elderly woman sews bags from abandoned umbrellas

Filed under: Fashion by Orangemaster @ 6:33 pm


After heavy wind and rainfall, Lil Jaunzems, 92 and from Amsterdam, goes out and collects abandoned umbrellas to make trendy bags out of them. When collecting umbrellas, newspaper Het Parool makes it sound like Jaunzems is out picking unwanted fruit that needs to be janked out of a branch or shell, saving the good bits to be brought home safely as raw material. People apparently look at Jaunzems funny when she’s out, like she doesn’t get that an umbrella is broken, but in true Amsterdam style, Jaunzems couldn’t care less and knows exactly what she’s getting up to.

Many of the bags have symbols of Amsterdam, from Heineken to cannabis and everything in between, so friends and family can ask for specific-looking bags. Before retiring Jaunzems used to sew jackets as a single mom with two children, but now she does this for friends and acquaintances for free and to pass the time.

(Link: www.parool.nl, some rights reserved)

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December 20, 2012

Elegant wooden bowls from recycled oak

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 1:36 pm

Designers Van Eijk and Van der Lubbe of Usuals have created 39 wooden bowls from five reclaimed oak poles they found at a Dutch farmhouse.

The wooden bowls have had carefully measured volumes removed from the body of each oak log, with the smooth cut-outs successfully contrasting the rustic ‘lived-in’ characteristics of the wood. They are unique and hand made, with cracks and flaws in each one.

(Link: www.designboom.com, Photo: www.usuals.nl)

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October 17, 2010

Dual purpose bin for newspapers and other waste

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:58 pm

Free newspapers have been a successful part of the Dutch landscape for a while now, and sometimes a bit too much so. The railway stations and trains especially are littered with discarded copies. Sometimes that can be useful (if you do not have the time to grab a copy from an official dispenser), at other times finding a place to sit among a sea of paper can be a nuisance.

I spotted this dual purpose disposal bin at Bijlmer station last week. One slot says ‘afval’ (garbage), the other says ‘kranten’ (newspapers).

According to Uli Schnier of Stichting Nederland Schoon (the Netherlands Clean Foundation), two-thirds of all the waste at railway stations consists of paper, OVnieuws.info reported in March 2009. The large majority of that paper stems from copies of the free newspapers. Each copy is read by three different people on average.

Rail authority Prorail has experimented with blue waste paper bins in the past year (see the photos at the OVnieuws article), but you will forgive me if I had never noticed them before, because they look just like the bins for regular garbage. These new ‘exclamation marks’, also by Prorail, certainly make their point better.

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May 27, 2010

Bags made from old transport belts

Filed under: Bicycles,Design by Orangemaster @ 2:30 pm

Amsterdam designer Dinand Stufkens and his recycled bag company Kazmok makes bags by recycling transport belts from manufacturing plants. Every belt is different, as is every bag since only 10 or 20 bags can be made with one belt.

First, there was The Principal, based on the traditional leather school bag. There’s also The Tutor with various accessories like laptop sleeves and belts. A totally different model is the Bulkcarrier, which fits in a milk crate that is usually the front basket of a Dutch city bike.

(Link: bright.nl)

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October 9, 2009

Rain barrel with built-in watering can

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 11:40 am

Like the top glass in a pyramid of champagne glasses, the watering can at the top of Bas van der Veer’s A Drop of Water is always filled the first, so that a gardener has ready access to rain water for their plants.

Excess water simply flows into the barrel, from where it can be released by a simple tap.

The 24-year-old, 2009 Design Academy Eindhoven graduate will display this project and his Bioplastic Planter at the Dutch Design Week, which starts October 17. According to Bright.nl (Dutch), the young inventor has not yet approached companies to take his designs into production, but he hopes to get a lot of attention during the exhibition where he will be all week.

(Source photo: Bas van der Veer.)

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January 10, 2009

Fake scrapwood furniture by Studio Ditte

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 11:48 am

In 1990 Piet Hein Eek made his first cupboard from reclaimed scrapwood and the rest, as they say, is history. Soon you couldn’t step into a somewhat upmarket furniture store without stumbling into one or two scrapwood items. The only problem with these, and one that’s persisted ever since, is despite that they’re made out of garbage they’re so damned expensive.

Studio Ditte came up with a solution in the form of scrapwood print. They basically sell the print in the shape of wallpaper (black, white and green), which at a price of 200 euro per roll is still pretty expensive to my taste. Their next step though was to take second hand furniture and refurbish it with their scrapwood wallpaper. “For that extra-lived in feeling,” they say. At the time of writing their tiny Recycle Recycle range is almost sold out, but this small cupboard can still be had for 120 euro, and there’s also a small table left for 60 euro.

Via Bright (Dutch). See also this article at Apartment Therapy. Photo: Studio Ditte.

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