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!

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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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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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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