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!

My climate action wish list for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great holiday break and are ready to make the world a better place this year.

2018 was a pretty amazing year for me on a personal level. I got settled into a new job and a new city, started a campaign against single-use plastics with a group of friends, and started giving guided tours in Brussels to showcase citizen initiatives that are making the Belgian capital more sustainable. Although these two projects kept me from writing blog posts as much as I would have wanted, they were very rewarding and brought me in contact with a lot of inspiring people.

The satisfaction I got out of my work was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that humankind did a pretty bad job preparing for a low-carbon society. Over and over again, I was disappointed in the lack of urgency in the business world and among policy makers. Not the least when the climate conference COP24 in Poland ended with meagre results and barely increased commitments from member states. All this after a number of unambiguous scientific reports laid out clearly that time is running out.

In short, they come down to the following: to limit catastrophic climate change, we need to keep global warming under 1,5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. How to make that happen? Cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 (12 years from now!) and be carbon neutral by 2050. Footnote: worldwide emissions are currently still on the rise.

What better way to wash away that somewhat bitter aftertaste of 2018, with some optimistic dreams for what the future could bring? I sat down with a cup of cinnamon tea and drafted up a list of climate action wishes for 2019. By no means exhaustive, but hey, if we can move forward on all these fronts this year I will be a happy man!

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6 presents with a purpose (Infographic)

Oooff, that went quick! We are at the end of yet another year and it seems like time flew by even faster than usual. In less than two weeks it is Christmas, which means we all have to start the increasingly difficult search for original presents for our loved ones. My personal favourites are things people make themselves: homemade chocolate cookies, a hand-drawn card, maybe a knitted beanie against the winter cold. It might cost you a lot more time than buying something in a shop or online –and that’s exactly the point: that effort is highly appreciated! It is also far better than going on a shopping haul, ending up with stuff nobody really needs, and often packaged in tonnes of plastic. Planet Earth does not approve.

That being said, if you are horrible in the kitchen and have two left hands, or are just short one time, buying a gift might be the safest option to avoid disappointment on Christmas Eve. In the infographic below, I listed some of the brands I discovered in 2018 that create products with a heart for the planet. Besides creating great products, many of them donate part of their profits to a good cause. This way your purchase can help address environmental or social issues around the world!

I wish all of you a great holiday season with family and friends, enjoy the time together :)

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How to reduce the footprint of your furry friends

As some of you know, I live in the centre of Brussels, where green space is scarcer than the hair on my old math professor’s head in the second year of university. I, therefore, was a bit shocked that a couple of weeks ago, a fence blocked off part of the already limited patch of greenery around the corner. ‘Dog zone’, the plaque on the newly installed enclosure read.

I truly was a tad annoyed at first. But when I saw two four-footers testing out their new playground, I just could not hold back a smile at the sight of their playful fight. Grumpiness gone. Nonetheless, the whole situation had sparked a question. While it is easily measurable how much green space we give away to pets in our cities, it is less obvious how much of humankind’s carbon budget is eaten away by them –literally.

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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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