Category: Solutions

So… how are we going to solve the climate challenge? A lot of smart and innovative people have come up with a plethora of solutions. Get inspired!

I tasted the future and I like it

Warning: this post might make you hungry. Don’t start reading until you are near food supplies.

Remember my blog post Meat the future a couple of months back? I had a look at the future of meat and came to the conclusion that we are at a moment in time that ‘heralds the end of the era of cardboard vegetarian burgers’. That was a bold statement, I admit.

The time has come to put my own claims to the test. One of the most famous and revolutionary vegetarian burgers in the world has finally made its way to Europe. Or Belgium to be more precise, to the kitchens of Greenway‘s restaurants. As first on the continent, they are introducing the Beyond Burger on their menu. Comes in a vegan bun, with a good portion of veggies and of course some vegan mayo to top it off. Do you already hear your stomach grumble?

Ready to put the Beyond Burger to the test (photo: Adrian Toth)

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The movement that is turning waste into precious material

Ever since I stepped into a Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) stuffed with laser cutters and 3D printers in my home university in Leuven, I have been intrigued by the idea that all of us have the possibility to built stuff. Just think about it: for millennia, our economies have been driven by craftsmen and -women that imagined, prototyped, and built their wares from A to Z. With the industrial revolution and the advent of conveyor belts, humankind has largely alienated from making things. The Maker-community, as the people craftings objects are often referred to, turns the tables again by democratising prototyping and production techniques.

I recently stumbled upon a particularly nice project that hit several soft spots of mine. First of all, it works with plastic trash and turns it back into a raw material. Secondly, it develops hardware to easily set up a small production facility with shredders, extrusion and injection moulding machines. Thirdly, all of it is open source. Fourthly, they dream big.

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Permafungi: from coffee to mushrooms

Chances are high you are reading this from a beach chair in France or with your feet dangling off the border of a swimming pool in Italy. Or maybe you are sipping from a coffee on la Rambla in Barcelona? While coffee ground is usually thrown away, some creative souls have found a better purpose: to use it for growing mushrooms.

The people I am talking about are from Permafungi, a small business in my home base Brussels. Of all sustainable projects to be discovered in the Belgian capital, they are definitely one of my favourites. And you will soon see why. For me, it represents all that I like about the city: a bit rebellious, doing things differently, and making the best of what one has. With respect for nature, and with the passion to make a supreme end product. Let’s see how it works.

Bags are filled with a mixture of coffee ground, straw, and mycelium under sterile conditions (photo: Permafungi)

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World’s most sustainable football stadiums

It was kinda unavoidable. Everyone is talking about football these days, so I’ll do so too. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the World Cup is a small disaster for the environment. Tens of thousands of supporters flying to Russia from around the world. An abundance of beer served in single-use plastic cups. A stunning amount of industrial meat being devoured in the form of sausages… I don’t want to pull this through a carbon footprint calculator to be honest.

Yet, what about the stadiums? Mastodonts of steel and concrete, which are very carbon intensive building materials, fitted with huge lights to reveal the spectacle to the audience in the tribunes and at home. And after all the World Cup mania dies down and people return home, some undoubtedly more satisfied than others, the buildings will probably not be used more than once every week or so. Doesn’t sound like the most sustainable infrastructure investment ever to me.

Luckily, luckily, some football stadiums show that it can be different. Inspired by an article in Eco Business, I made an overview of my top sustainable football stadiums below. Take a look during halftime! Enjoy the rest of the world cup ;)

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Kheyti: greenhouse-in-a-box

A couple of years ago my parents decided to start their very own vegetable garden –a long-time dream. Growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower prooved to be more challenging than expected. Except the salad, which consequently is served for dinner for four summer months straight. Tomato diseases and bad weather cause some disappointment every now and then, yet never did it mean there was no food on the table. In the end, my mom still brings plenty of fresh produce from the supermarket every week.

One of the farmers that participates in Kheyti’s first pilot of the greenhouse. Apparently, it works. (photo: Kheyti)

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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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