Brewing beer, the better way

Besides an overly complicated political system, Belgium is also known for its chocolate and beer. The latter also make up for the sh*t weather we get most of the time. But, climate change is there to endanger the future of our national points of pride. Cocoa supply, on the one hand, will soon fall short, while the key bacteria in the Brussels air to produce the famous Lambic beer are going extinct.

More than enough reason for Belgian-based beer multinational AB InBev to do its share in reducing its environmental impact. For four years, they have been testing and refining a new brewing method aimed at cutting energy and water usage in their research brewery in Leuven. And it seems the effort paid off. Get yourself a beer from the fridge and read on!

The bubbles in beer are normally obtained during a boiling process. Ab InBev had to think out of the box to generate the bubbles in a less energy and water intensive way

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Edipeel: saving food with food (waste)

A warm breeze blows into my room while I am writing this blog post. It carries the sound of people strolling through the streets and the inviting sound of an ice cream cart in the distance. Our country has been blessed with beautiful weather for three days in a row and national happiness levels have at least tripled. Less happy are the bananas in my fruit basket, which have turned completely brown in no time. Or at least far quicker than the three girls at the other side of the street who brought out their beach chairs to take a tan.

And although I should have been smarter and store my bananas in the fridge, the lack of proper refrigeration is, in fact, a key source of food spoilage around the planet, not least in developing countries. I have written before about how frustrating and sad it is that 3.1 million children die from hunger every year, while 30 to 40% of all fresh produce is lost along the food value chain. Add a growing population and the environmental burden of agriculture to the mix, and it’s clear a solution is more than due. Improving shelf life is a huge opportunity to do more with less.

The difference between a banana coated with Edipeel and without, after 7 days. Edipeel can lengthen shelf-life up to four times (photo: Apeel Sciences)

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Ocean plastics: where to fight them first?

I am sure you all have seen those heart-sickening pictures of dead albatrosses on the beaches of the Galapagos Islands. Between what remains from their deck of feathers, plastic bottle caps are bulking out of their stomachs. The issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is reaching alarming rates with far-reaching impacts. It seems that finally, the issue has reached the greater public thanks to mind-boggling footage in documentaries like the Plastic Ocean, and the renowned BBC series Blue Planet II. Better late than never. If the little sea turtles tangled up in an abandoned fisher net didn’t pull you over the line, the danger of microplastics building up in the fish on your plate surely should get you onboard the fight against ocean plastics. But you might be wondering… where to start?

The Philippines have a huge waste mismanagement problem, leading to tonnes of plastic being dumped into the ocean every year

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Ubitricity is turning street lamps into EV charging stations

Today I feel like talking EVs. I haven’t been covering electric vehicles that much on the blog, and that’s simply because I still have mixed feelings about them as means to halt climate change. No car is better than an electric car, I’m used to saying.  That being said, our society is not going car-free anytime soon. I expect electric vehicles to start booming from this year onwards thanks to a wide range of new EV models that are coming out. There is now an electric car for every type of consumer.

In the meantime, the pressure on the fossil fuel car industry keeps rising. Only last week a court in Stuttgart, the hometown of Germany’s most icon car brands, ruled that cities can ban diesel cars as part of their effort to improve air quality. With battery ranges continuously improving, most EVs are already now a suitable alternative for most families. Yet, there is one roadblock that remains: in most cities, charging stations are scarce. Driving around to find a parking is already annoying in and of itself, imagine trying to find one with a charging hub.

Ubitricity’s SimpleSocket can easily be integrated in a lamp post. It takes less than 30 minutes to install and is ten times cheaper than stand-alone charging stations (photo: Ubitricity)

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Meat the future

I get it. You love how the patty sizzles in the pan, how the fat seeps out of the meat, how the smell is an anticipation of the first bite, which gives the eater a glimpse of what’s beyond: heaven. At least, if I have to believe some of my carnivorous friends –I’m vegetarian– who get slightly poetic when defending their eating habits. And it’s not that I just happen to have very weird friends. Not a surprise that many vegetarian brands have tried to win meat lovers over with alternatives that promise to bring the full meat experience in a vegetarian or vegan version. Although most purists will claim we’re not yet there, some are admitting it’s getting pretty close.

For many people, the sizzling, the smell, and the bleeding of the meat is part of the burger experience

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Love, sex, and marriage in times of climate change

This Wednesday is Valentine’s day. Chances are high your thoughts are already floating off to your date night. Although it might seem as if there are few things further apart than love and climate change, I figured out they can affect each other in (sometimes scarily) significant ways.

You might not give a damn about rising seas and melting permafrost, but beware: hotter temperatures might affect action in the bedroom. What a bummer! In a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US a couple years back, three researchers found indications that exceptionally hot days lead to a reduction in birth rates nine months later. To put it in the authors own words: “Extreme heat could raise the physiological cost of coitus on a given fertile day, leading to a shift in coital frequency to some subsequent day(s).” In layman’s words: when it’s too hot to bang, people usually catch up later. But postponing the sex doesn’t make up entirely for the decline, as the study of US birth rates between 1931 and 2010 suggests.

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