#1 Bubble barrier
Three Dutch women realised it would be more effective to tackle the problem at the source. The Great Bubble Barrier is a tube at the end of a river which is placed under the water surface. Air blown through the tube creates a current which funnels the plastic waste to a collection site. The plastic collected can be used for almost everything these days; from baby carriages to dresses, from furniture to fuel.
#2 Sustainer homes
Want to build your own home? Can’t do it without an architect. And what do you know about which sustainable materials to use? How to generate sustainable energy? Sustainer Homes is a company with a tailor-made concept which enables everyone to build a home which emits over 90% less CO2 compared to a regular building of steel and concrete. Sustainer Homes works with an unique building system with completely circular, milled wooden modules. They are the building blocks with which almost any building can be made. From a simple tiny house to a complete urban mansion. The company guides people all the way from the initial sketch to their new front door key.
#3 The Waste Factory
Horticulture and agriculture are multi-billion dollar industries in the Netherlands. Not only do they produce the majority of vegetables on our tables, the Netherlands is also one of the biggest food exporters. But not everything that is produced can be used. Each year, over 5 billion euros worth of food is thrown away. Bob Hutton, entrepreneur in the catering business, came up with a plan. The waste factory aims to use these waste streams in new products. In Veghel, Hutten created a ‘waste building’ with machines and coolers. People with a disability on the job market were hired to start the production. Products include goulash soup, Asian stews, or boeuf bourguignon. All made from products which growers deemed unusable because they were too small or misshapen.
#4 Blue city
This is how they describe it: “A pool filled with possibilities, that is BlueCity. A playground for circular enterprises, where we use brains, balls, and fun to steer towards an economy in which waste doesn’t exist. In BlueCity, we serve a dose of radical disruption with your coffee and together we realize a world in which waste is valuable.”
#05 Social coins
Many people in the Netherlands are living below the poverty line or with a huge burden of debt. Through this project, people can pay off their debt through social coins, which they earn by doing community service. For more see the Social Coins website. www.socialcoin.nl
#06 Ruik (smell)
Transforms waste into seductive perfumes. Currently, most perfumes are 95% synthetics, but Ruik uses orange peels, rosebuds, and old pine trees to create amazing scents.
#07 Bamboo logic
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. The organization Bambu Logic wants to grow 8000 hectares of bamboo in Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Italy. Compared to normal trees, bamboo provides 15 times the material, and can be used for the production of e.g. furniture. www.bambulogic.com
Fruitleather knew that they had to do something about the 40% of all fruit which is currently produced for nothing and left to rot away. They developed a leather-like material from fruit waste. This is a natural and 100% compostable material which can be used as a leather for products such as book covers, shoes, coats, and bags. See the website for more.
#09 North Sea Farm
Seaweed is the future. Not only is it an excellent nutritional source which can be used in vegan burgers, salads, or other dishes. It is also possible to extract gas from it, which can be used to solve our natural gas problem. The North Sea Farm foundation doesn’t produce the gas, but they are supporting innovators in the industry.
Feeding the world without consuming the earth. That’s the motto of Protifarm, a fast-growing company which grows insects which are marketed as a high-protein nutritional product. Alphitobius diaperinus is the Latin name for the litter beetle which is being bred for the product and made into fried larvae, powder, or oil.
Only unconventional thinking can save the world
The planet earth is known as the blue planet because 71% of it is covered in water. Between 50 to 80% of all life on earth is found in that water and less than 10% of that space has been explored by humans. We have one word, fish, to describe 28,000 species and of that only a small number are eaten.
Change often starts with ideas which people find preposterous or believe to be impossible. The idea that a wire could allow two people, separated by hundreds of kilometers, to talk to each other was a bizarre concept before the invention of the telephone. 50 years ago, if you had said that you’d be sharing your personal photos with billions of people in a virtual space consisting of ones and zeroes (the internet), people would have ridiculed you. Or that you wanted to power a city by collecting solar rays on big black plates called solar panels. The out of the box thinkers were the ones who brought us from the Middle Ages to this modern era.
After 250 years of industrial revolution we are at a tipping point
But now we’ve reached a turning point. The last 250 years, since the start of the industrial revolution, we’ve started exhausting the earths resources, and now that we need to share it with 7 billion people, there is a renewed need for out of the box thinking on how we can turn the tide.
Globally, there are dozens of bigger and smaller contests where you can see which special ideas, projects, pilots, and sometimes even whole enterprises are being thought up on the topic of sustainability. They’re using, sometimes extreme, out of the box thinking to see how we can reshape our economy and waste usage; from burning to recycling, from destroying nature to protecting it. Do you have an idea yourself? On this website you can see where you can go with your idea globally.