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What is regenerative living?

The subject of sustainability has increased in popularity in recent years and is high on the agenda, especially among young people. It is a broad topic with many different branches. One of those branches is generative living. You might have heard of it, but chances are that you don’t exactly know what it is. You will find out in this article.

The concept of living regenerative

Today, many people try to live sustainably by watching their consumption, opting for an electric car or taking shorter showers. Schools and businesses have also taken steps to operate more sustainably. This is necessary to slow down and eventually stop climate change. But we can do better. Instead of just slowing it down or stopping it, we can reverse the effects of climate change by acting in ways that regenerate the planet’s health.

This is exactly what generative living entails: taking action in all sectors, ranging from our houses to agriculture and fashion. Not just to limit the human impact on the environment. Do it to make the ecosystems healthier than we found them. Up until roughly 2 centuries ago, humans had a regenerative relationship with the environment and all life on earth. They benefited from the land but also gave back in a way to replenish what they took. By caring for the land, animals and plants, they ensured that the environment continued to provide them with all the resources that were crucial for their survival.

Nowadays, the relationship that we have with the environment is not to be called regenerative. Except for most indigenous cultures around the world, we take from nature without giving back or replenish what we take. However, regenerative living is on the rise in many different sectors.

Regenerative farming

Agriculture is one of the most destructive practices of today. It is heavily influenced by large companies that are blinded by the search for profit. Instead of appreciating what healthy soil, fresh water and clean air offer us, we strip most land of its value and do little to nothing in return. This has long-term consequences for the planet’s as well as our health. Yet, the entire planet relies on agriculture and the planet needs to get fed by us. Therefore, the mindset of producing as much food as possible for the least amount of money needs to change.

We should move from the degenerative agriculture practices of today, which means that the quality of soil and produced food decrease over time. To regenerative agricultural practices, meaning that it helps biodiversity increas. We need to build fertile and regenerative topsoil, prevent drought, improve the water cycle and much more.

At the core of regenerative agriculture are the practices of composting and minimal disturbance of the soil. Regenerative agriculture knows many different practices from which we will discuss three.

Holistic planned grazing

In 2013, a Zimbabwean ecologist called Allan Savory held a TED talk in which he talks about a way of farming that prevents overgrazing or no grazing at all. Which he has been applying since the 1960s. It is a form of regenerative farming, and according to Savory, it is the only thing we can do to stop man-made desertification. Also to grow back vegetation and turn the dry areas back to green. The farming method is called holistic planned grazing. In a nutshell, holistic planned grazing is the creation of a situation that gets as close to the situation of grazing herds and predators long ago. Which means letting the livestock roam and graze freely in different parts of an area according to smart planning.

By letting the livestock roam and graze freely in herds, the herds will keep moving to search for fresh grass which they didn’t dung and urinate on. This prevents overgrazing. Also, the impact of their hoofs breaks up hard ground, allowing air and water to penetrate the soil. The trampling of old grass provides cover from the drying effects of the sun and wind, while the dung and urine of the livestock enriches the soil. However, simply bunching the animals together and moving them isn’t going to be successful and won’t work regeneratively. Farmers around the world have done this for a long time and created the current deserts. The key to successful holistic grazing is the planning part. This entails dividing the land up into divisions and following a monthly planning system in which you take many factors into account. By following the planning, all divisions of the area will be grazed once in a while. At night, the herds are driven into predator friendly crawls with protective fences. The crawls move with the herds. Sometimes, the crawl is built on the ground of local farmers. If the farmers’ ground is dry, the trampling, dung and urine of the livestock will make sure that more water will be soaked into the ground instead of evaporating out of it, allowing plants to grow. As long as this doesn’t happen for more than a week, it’s effective and makes the dry ground of the farmer fertile.

Holistic planned grazing adapts to the carbon cycle and water cycle. It also empowers rural communities and farmers to manage their natural resources effectively and make the best decisions from an economic and environmental viewpoint. At the moment, many farmers around the world are learning and applying this way of farming and there are loads of evidence that growing back vegetation by using this method is possible. This is very important because if we would apply holistic planned grazing on half of the world’s land, we can take so much carbon out of the atmosphere that we would go back to pre-industrial levels. Moreover, enriching the desertifying areas with vegetation and making the soil fertile again will end most of the global hunger, poverty and war that is often caused by desertification and land degradation.

Agro ecology

Agro ecology is a movement and form of farming that focuses on how food production can make the best use of natural goods while not damaging the resources. Rather than working against nature with chemicals and certain practices, farming thrives when it works with nature. This way of sustainable farming builds a healthy environment in which we can grow our foods. Unlike many conventional farming methods, agroecology has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the environment, people and community.

Within agro ecology are several regenerative approaches to create agro ecosystems. Agroforestry is one of them. Agroforestry can be described as a management system in which farmers grow trees around or among their crops or pastureland. This initiates agro ecological succession which in turn leads to the enhancement of the sustainability and functionality of the farming systems. This has many environmental as well as economic and social benefits. For example, the biodiversity in agroforestry systems is higher, the soil is protected from erosion, food security is higher, and the diversity of ecological goods is higher which is good for the biodiversity and increases income security. The trees also reduce the runoff and evaporation of water, allowing more soil infiltration.


A permaculture is an approach to agriculture and land management that is based on ecology, ethics and other sciences for designing a human living environment that is ecologically sustainable and economically stable. It focuses on, among others, sustainable architecture, restoring man-damaged landscapes, creating a social structure and improving water management. Permaculture is built on three ethics:

· Earth care – all ecosystems and forms of life may exist and develop.

· People care – people have access to the resources that are necessary for their survival.

· Fair share – the consumption of the population has limits and people don’t consume more than needed.

The design approach to agriculture also knows 12 design principles:

1. Observe and interact.

Observe nature and engage with it before designing a system.

2. Catch and store energy.

When the abundance is high, resources should be collected to have a stock for times of need.

3. Obtain a yield.

Emphasis should be placed on projects with the most meaningful rewards.

4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback.

To ensure that the systems function properly, inappropriate activity should be addressed.

5. Use and value renewable resources and services.

Make as much use as possible of renewable energy resources and reduce the dependence on non-renewable resources.

6. Produce no waste.

Move to zero waste, by reducing our consumption and recycling where possible.

7. Design from patterns to details.

Look at the bigger picture first by recognizing patterns in society and nature before you dive into the details.

8. Integrate rather than segregate.

Allow the development of relationships between design elements.

9. Use small and slow solutions.

Start small and make small changes. This reduces the risk of failing and is easier to maintain.

10. Use and value diversity.

Diversity is better for every ecosystem’s health. It also reduces the system’s vulnerability to threats.

11. Use edges and value the marginal.

An edge is where one ecosystem or type of nature meets another. This is where nature’s diversity and productivity are the highest.

12. Creatively use and respond to change.

Design for change and focus on how things will be so that you will benefit instead of having trouble when inevitable changes come.

Regenerative fashion

In the fashion industry, regenerative practices are also being picked up on. Regenerative fashion means that clothing is made in a way that supports circularity. Either through upcycling or choosing regenerative farmers as suppliers. Most farms that grow textiles today are degenerative. The toxic agrochemicals are being inhaled by farmers and they pollute the soil and water. Only by making use of regenerative farming practices, fashion can have a positive impact on the world rather than contributing to climate change and health issues.

More fashion brands are starting to make use of local regenerative production of textile to ensure that the clothing they produce is not harmful to the world and contributes to regeneration and healthy soil.

How can I be regenerative?

Not only farmers and fashion brands can do their part to combat climate change by being regenerative. You can too in your everyday life. An example of simple practices of regenerative living that you can start doing is composting. Composting turns dirt into soil that is richer in nutrients, which positively impacts the environment and us. You could collect your food scraps, put this in a packaging box and throw that in a compost bin, where the ‘trash’ will be turned into compost.

The clothing that you buy and wear also makes a difference. You could focus on wearing clothes that are completely made out of natural materials and not out of plastics. Or, look up which fashion brands sell regenerative clothing and buy products from them instead of the bigger conventional brands.

Another example a regenerative practice is making your garden more wild and diverse. You could plant native trees in your garden, allow more sprawl, and limit or eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides. Rewilding your garden doesn’t mean that you let you completely take your hands off and let everything turn into a big mess. Instead, it means that you create spaces in your garden where you let nature thrive and do its thing. It creates a home for many insects and other small animals that contribute to a flourishing ecosystem within your garden.

How can i save energy outside my house?

Clear Your AC

If you have an HVAC system that heats and cools your home, you can adjust your thermostat to bring the temperature up and down to lower your heating and cooling bills. While you might think that the system alone will help you save, you also need to clean and clear your AC system regularly. The AC system is the larger unit that sits outside your home. Any debris, including tree branches, old leaves or even grocery store bags can change the way the system filters out air and leave you spending more money each month. Clear away debris from your AC unit at least once a month.

Plant a Shade Tree

Planting a shade tree can drastically improve the temperature control in a home. By blocking the sunlight from entering via the windows, shade trees make the property more efficient and reduce the energy needed to cool the home in the summer. If you live in a climate that experiences cold winters, a deciduous tree can continue to be your ally when it comes in efficiency. By shedding its leaves when the cool weather sets in, the tree allows sunlight to hit your home and warm it up a few degrees, reducing the load on your heater. Evergreens, on the other hand, make for excellent wind blockers in the winter to help keep the frigid air at bay.

Efficient use of light

By only having the light on in your backyard or front yard when you are there after dark. If no one is there, it is better to keep the light off. In the winter, this saves about 10 hours of electricity for a light in the backyard. If you are in your backyard in the evening, it is better to make a fire in a fire pit than to keep the light on unnecessarily. The fire in the fire pit provides more light and also gives off heat.

Install energy-efficient windows

Windows are a significant source of energy waste – they can add up to 10-25% of your total heating bill. To prevent heat loss through your windows, you can replace single-pane windows with double-pane ones instead.

For homes in colder regions, gas-filled windows with “Low-E” coatings can significantly reduce your heating expenses. In addition, interior or exterior storm windows can reduce unnecessary heat loss by 10 to 20 percent. You should especially consider storm windows if your region experiences frequent extreme weather events.

In warmer climates, heat gain through windows may be a problem. In addition to minimizing heat loss, Low-E coatings on windows can reduce heat gain by reflecting more light and thus lowering the amount of thermal energy that enters your home. Depending on where you live, ENERGY STAR windows can save you $20-$95 each year on your utility bills. Window shades, shutters, screens, and awnings can also provide an extra layer of insulation between your home and outside temperatures, leading to even more energy savings.

Weatherize your home

Weatherizing, or sealing air leaks around your home, is a great way to reduce your heating and cooling expenses. The most common sources of air leaks into your home are vents, windows, and doors. To prevent these leaks, you should ensure that there are no cracks or openings between the wall and vent, window, or doorframe.

To seal air leaks between stationary objects, such as the wall and window frame, you can apply caulk. For cracks between moving objects, such as operable windows and doors, you can apply weather strips. Weatherstripping and caulking are simple air-sealing techniques that typically offer a return on investment in less than a year. Air leaks can also occur through openings in the wall, floor, and ceiling from plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring.

Air leaking out of your home is most often from the home warmt to our attic through small openings. Whether it is through ducts, light fixtures, or the attic hatch, warm air will rise and escape through small openings. As the natural flow of heat is from warmer to cooler areas, these small openings can make your heating bill even higher if your attic is not sufficiently insulated. To reap the full amount of savings from weatherization, you should consider fully insulating your home.

Replace all lightings the house with LED lamps.

Many people have already replaced their incandescent and halogen bulbs with LED bulbs. A good choice, because an LED light is more economical than an incandescent lamp and pays for itself quickly. So you can save a lot of energy by purchasing LED lamps.

But that is not it. It is more climate-friendly to replace them now. Do you replace all your inefficient lamps at once? Then you only do it once and you make a nice impact on the climate. If you want to keep it smaller: start with the lamps that are turned on/used the most. Check if you have a dimmer at the switch.

Not all dimmers work well with LED bulbs. Check in advance what kind of dimmer you have and whether it works with LED lighting. You may need to have your switch replaced. Nowadays there are also handy 3-position LED lamps, so you don’t need a dimmer. Go to the store or buy these lamps online

Incandescent and halogen lamps have now been banned for sale. You can buy LED lights in the store or online. When you are going to buy an LED lamp, it is useful to take the old lamp(s) with you to the store, Write down the letters and numbers found on the bulb, or take a photo of it.

Cavity wall insulation

Wall insulation With cavity wall insulation you have a warmer house, a lower energy bill and you help the climate. In addition, it is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to insulate your home.

Lose less energy and save between 260 and 1,000 euros per year with cavity wall insulation.

What is cavity wall insulation?

Cavity wall insulation is the most common form of wall insulation. A cavity is a space between an inner and outer wall, which you can fill with insulating material. Cavity wall insulation makes the walls less cold. This ensures a more sustainable and comfortable home!

With solar panels, you contribute to a better climate.

By installing solar panels on your roof you not only save the environment. You also save on your energy costs. Even in cloudy weather, you benefit from the sun and sustainably generate part of your electricity.

Save hundreds of euros every year with solar panels

The purchase of solar panels quickly pays for itself. A small calculation example: for a set of 10 solar panels you pay about 4,700 euros. You will save about 600 euros on your energy bill every year. This means that you earn back the solar panels in 8 years. If you also reclaim the VAT – 760 euros – the investment still costs 3,940 euros and you earn it back in just over 6 years.

In addition, there is also a ‘netting scheme’ in which the energy you supply to the energy company is settled against your consumption. It is good to know that the netting scheme for solar panels will change in 2023.

Generating solar energy together

Are you a tenant or do you not have your own roof? Then there are still opportunities to help the climate. You can also generate solar energy with others.

Discover how to generate solar energy together

There are many different possibilities to generate solar energy with others. For example, you can join an already existing group of people who generate solar energy together, this is called a sustainable energy cooperative. But you can also set up an energy cooperative yourself, buy a piece of solar panel or even invest in a solar park.

Heat pump: from gas to electricity

A heat pump provides heating for your house and possibly hot water. A heat pump uses electricity to extract heat from the air, soil or groundwater. In different countries there is an attractive subsidy for heat pumps now.

A heat pump is good for the climate: your CO2 emissions for heating are reduced by about 20 to 45 percent. And your energy bill goes down too.

There are different types of heat pumps. A hybrid heat pump works in conjunction with a gas-fired HR boiler and is suitable for houses with moderate insulation. A fully electric heat pump replaces your gas-fired HR boiler and is suitable for houses with good to very good insulation. A ventilation heat pump extracts heat from the ventilation air and is suitable for houses with mechanical ventilation.

You can use a hybrid heat pump in combination with your gas-fired HR boiler. The heat pump provides a large part of the heating of your house.

A hybrid heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and converts it to a usable temperature. If it’s too cold outside, your HR boiler kicks in. Your HR boiler also provides hot water in the shower and kitchen. A hybrid heat pump is cheaper than a fully electric heat pump. You can buy it at the same time as a new HR boiler, or combine it with your current HR boiler.

With a hybrid heat pump, you do the climate a favour: your CO2 emissions from heating are reduced by about 25 percent. And you spend less

10 ways to save water at home

On hot days we all use millions of liters of water. To water the plants, fill the bath or take a shower. It costs water purification companies a lot of energy to purify water. To combat water shortages and limit energy consumption, it is good to use water economically. We give you 10 tips to save water in and around the house.

1. Waste less water when you flush the toilet

Every time you flush the toilet, more than 9 litres of water disappear down the drain. That is much more water than necessary.

Here is a solution: Place rocks or sand in the bottom of a large bottle and then fill it with water. Place the bottle in the water bowl of your toilet, without interfering with the flushing mechanism.

Thanks to this arrangement, you can save almost one and a half litres of water with every flush without your toilet working less well! If your water bowl is quite large, you can even fit two bottles in.

2. Every drop costs money!

Check for leaks regularly. Leaks are not always visible but can have dramatic consequences for your water consumption. With a leaking tap, up to 100 litres of water are lost per day. With a leaking toilet flush, this can be up to 600 litres per day!

An easy way to check for leaks in your home is to keep an eye on your water meter. Learning to read that meter correctly can save you money. Start by shutting off all water in your home. Then go to your water meter and write down all the numbers you see. If you have a flow meter, it will indicate if there is a leak anywhere in your home. To determine the presence of a slow water leak, note the reading of your water meter before and after a period of no water consumption.

3. Reuse rainwater

Why not collect rainwater that would otherwise disappear into nature? It’s free and renewable! By collecting water that flows from your gutters in a tank, you can already save litres of water. You can use that rainwater to water your plants and wash the car.

You can also go further and install a real rainwater harvesting system that will then serve your toilet, washing machine and other machines that don’t require potable water.

4. Invest in a rain well

After all, rainwater can account for almost 60% of the consumption in your home. There are cisterns in concrete or plastic. Minimum volume: 1500 litre. Maximum authorized volume: 10,000 litres (even if there are models up to 20,000 litres). Concrete cisterns must be buried. This is not mandatory for cisterns in synthetic materials. However, they are all equipped with a pump system and a filter. You’ve already figured it out: a cistern can require major works – more specifically excavation work. Just to be sure, have the system checked before putting it into operation. Under certain conditions, this is even mandatory in Flanders, Belgium. For example, any contact between the water supply network and the rainwater network is prohibited to avoid contamination of the public network.

Depending on the model chosen and the work to be carried out, the costs can vary between 1500 € and 6000 €. An investment that will pay for itself in 7 to 10 years if you use rainwater to clean, flush the toilets and do laundry, provided that the surface of your roof is at least 150 m2.

There are, however, grants – usually municipal – for systems that recover rainwater (cisterns or reservoirs), but not everywhere. Please check with your municipality.

Do you think the investment is too big? Then know that there are also cheaper above-ground barrels. Or start by placing a barrel at the bottom of the gutter. You can use the collected water to clean the terrace or sidewalk or to water the plants.

5. Do not rinse the dishes anymore!

Rinsing your plates before putting them in the dishwasher doubles your water consumption. Don’t rinse your plates before putting them in the dishwasher. If you rinse them clean, you double your water consumption for washing the dishes (and a dishwasher uses very little water after all). And there are other misconceptions about water consumption. Also, prefer the ECO mode instead of the quick program. Although the ECO mode lasts longer, it washes the dishes better and uses less energy. Contrary to what certain myths about energy consumption claim.

6. Avoid water games where you are constantly spreading water.

Fun is guaranteed with a water sprayer or water slide, but they are not very economical with water …

If you still want to be able to play in the water, inflate a small pool and fill it once. Also, ask your children not to do a bombshell (too often) or not to step in and out of the pool with their feet full of sand and grass. This way you avoid having to refill the pool often or replace the water. For the game where you have water in a bottle and stand in a circle with a group and have to shoot each other’s bottle with a ball, you can also use rainwater very well.

Another tip for using less water if you have a swimming pool? Cover it when not in use to prevent evaporation.

7. The right pot

Finally: a small saving with a big impact. Many people throw vegetables in a pan that is way too big. As a result, approximately one litre of extra water is used per pan, which is discarded after cooking. Assuming two pans that are too large per cooking cycle, this results in a saving of more than 450 litres per year.

You can make huge savings on your water use in all sorts of small, unexpected ways. You can find many more tips on various websites, such as Zoofy. Not only will you see the savings reflected in the bill you receive each quarter, but it’s also very good for the environment. Pay attention to the little things, then you can do the environment a big favour without major changes in your lifestyle.

8. Reuse water

By cleaning your vegetables in a tub you save water and you can reuse it for other things.

For example, to clean your vegetables. Wash them in a tub and use the water afterwards to water your plants.

Another tip: while you wait for hot water to run out of the tap (in the kitchen and even before you take a shower), you can catch the cold water that flows out first. For your water jug, your plants or any other use.

9. Washing your car

When you wash your car with the garden hose, you use about 150 litres of water. You can also use some buckets instead. You will notice that you can clean your car very well with less than half that amount. This might be a strange tip, but although it doesn’t seem like it, the car wash is also a water-saving option. In a car wash, the used water is cleaned and reused.

10. Water-saving showerhead

An energy-saving shower provides the same comfort, is better for the climate and saves you a lot of money. You can save a lot of energy with a water-saving showerhead. To see if you can save by changing your showerhead, you should first check how economical your showerhead is now. You can do this by checking how much water you currently use. Maybe your shower is already very economical. To do this, place a bucket under your shower head and let the water run for 1 minute. Are there 7 litres of water in the bucket or more after that? Then it can be more economical.

What are the 5 principles of regenerative agriculture?

An important principle behind the work of farmers is regenerative agriculture, a term that is popping up more and more in the media. But what does it stand for and what does it mean for farmers?

1. Restorative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is more than making agriculture more sustainable. Almost everyone agrees that it can and should be more sustainable. Agriculture has had a negative impact on the soil, groundwater and biodiversity in many places in the world in recent decades. The sustainability solutions are often about reducing this negative impact. Regenerative agriculture not only looks at how the negative impact can be reduced but also works on recovery and makes use of natural processes. So not against, but with nature. Regenerative agriculture ultimately makes a positive contribution to nature, the environment, climate, food security and social conditions.

2. Regenerative also good for the farmer

The question often arises whether regenerative farming also yields the farmer enough, since less intensive farming can also reduce production. Fortunately, on the other hand, the farmer also has lower costs, because fertilizer and pesticides do not have to be purchased or have to be purchased less. In order to get a clear picture of where the bottom line is, are we trying to arrive at a good method to provide a definitive answer once and for all. In addition, we are working on good revenue models for the regenerative farmer in various projects.

3. Not organic, yet regenerative

Regenerative agriculture draws on decades of scientific and applied research by the global communities of organic farming, agroecology, holistic management, permaculture and agroforestry. There is no clear definition yet and the term is sometimes interpreted in many different ways. Sometimes regenerative farming is seen as a form of organic farming, or an agricultural system that ‘goes even further’ than organic and biodynamic. However, that is a misconception. Regenerative farming is a broad set of methods, where the endpoint is a healthy and resilient landscape. Even a conventional farmer can take steps towards regenerative agriculture, without meeting the specific requirements of organic farming. There are, however, many similarities, as is the case with circular agriculture: we want as little input as possible and as much as possible a closed cycle. This also largely applies to nature-inclusive agriculture. You could say that nature-inclusive work is part of regenerative agriculture.

Land farmers participate, regenerative agriculture is linked to specific ecosystem services. The project investigates the potential for regenerative agriculture in the Netherlands and examines how they contribute to all those ecosystem services at twenty farmers.

4. Regenerative farming in practice

For example, we scatter seashells on the land to balance the mineral ratio in the soil. We feed the soil biology with, (worm) compost or rough manure and among other things. With so-called strip grazing, farmers imitate the large grazers of the African savannas with their cows. We let many cows graze on a small piece of land for a short time. Wild grazers move like this too, because they are kept together by predators. The cows are given a new piece of pasture twice a day and move on quickly. With this pattern, the cows Plow the ground with their hooves and stamp their manure into the ground. This leads to better soil life and ensures that the grasses and herbs grow better. Farmers, therefore, use natural processes to benefit themselves.

5. Increase in organic matter and carbon fixation

Soil naturally contains a lot of organic matter in the form of partially digested remains of plants and other organisms. In this way, a lot of carbon – once taken from the air by plants and converted into plant material – is stored for a long time. In recent years, soil cultivation has ensured that the amount of organic matter in the soil has decreased and a lot of CO2 has been released from the soil. This is of course an undesirable development in view of global warming. Regenerative agriculture can reverse this process.

In arable farming, minimal tillage, various crop rotations and the cultivation of green manures – crops that are incorporated into the soil – can increase the organic matter content, which means that carbon is again fixed in the soil. For dairy farmers, it is more about soil life and balanced minerals, permanent grassland with more herb richness, grazing strategies, natural fertilization and the application of organic material such as compost or bokashi.

Is it healthier to grow your own food?

Less stress

Growing your own plants, according to Martin Laidla of Click and Grow, is effective against stress. It improves the air quality and above all: it is healthier. “Click and Grow lettuce contains almost twice as many antioxidants as supermarket lettuce,” he claims. “And tomatoes contain twice as much lycopene, an antioxidant and the substance that makes tomatoes red.”

Ernst Woltering, professor of product physiology & quality at Wageningen University. recognizes the image that people nowadays look closely at the variety of substances in their vegetables and therefore prefer to grow them themselves. “There are whole groups of people who, for alleged health reasons, value what we call secondary metabolites here. And antioxidants can scavenge harmful free radicals.”

However, according to Woltering, it is questionable whether they end up in the right place in the body. “Take green tea, which is bursting with antioxidants, but they are hardly absorbed.”

Washed in chlorinated water

According to Woltering, anyone who finds vitamins and antioxidants important should take a closer look at what they put in their shopping basket. “The difference in vitamins between the different varieties of peppers is huge.” The cultivation method is also important. It is therefore not surprising, according to the professor, that Click and Grow uses cherry tomatoes. “Small tomatoes usually contain more vitamins and other substances than large tomatoes. That is why they are tastier. I think I can also find tomatoes with more lycopene in the supermarket. The following applies: the redder, the more lycopene.”

Then you are asking a lot from a consumer, says Laidla. How can you, as a consumer, determine how long that good-looking, but waxed bell pepper has been on the shelf? Or which manufacturer washes its lettuce in chlorinated water? Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years and it’s really exhausting. Growing different strains and varieties yourself and eating them right after harvesting is much easier and better for your peace of mind.”

More taste

According to Woltering, antioxidants are important for taste. That is why he is trying to grow basil with a higher antioxidant content, for example. “The production of these substances is a protective reaction against a large amount of light. Light causes many free radicals. The plant protects itself against this by producing antioxidants.”

Laidla from Click and Grow knows from her own experience that you can also go too far. “When we exposed plants to extreme amounts of light, the amount of vitamin C increased by 600 percent. But the taste turned bitter. The amount of light in our garden offers the right balance between nutritional value and taste.”

The main advantage of growing food yourself is that as little vitamins as possible are lost after harvesting. “Between harvesting and the moment a lettuce leaf is on the consumer’s plate, the vitamin C has almost completely disappeared,” Woltering admits. Laidla: “It is not for nothing that lettuce in the supermarket is packaged in a protected atmosphere.” The bags contain a mixture of carbon dioxide and little oxygen so that the lettuce does not spoil as quickly.

No chemicals on your plate

In the United States, many Environmental Protection (EPA)-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Today, the EPA considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides carcinogenic. In 1987 it was estimated that pesticides could be responsible for an additional 4 million cases of cancer in America alone. If you grow your own food, you can decide for yourself what goes in and what doesn’t. The point is that pesticides are poisons to kill living organisms and therefore can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides also cause birth defects, nerve damage and genetic changes.

For general health and self-healing

Our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves. We see evidence of this, for example, in minor cuts and bruises. The body can heal itself without any conscious effort or assistance. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” It has also been said that we can make the equivalent of a drug or drug in our bodies. In order to do that, we need to have the necessary high-quality raw materials at our disposal via our complete and varied diet. Plants picked freshly from the garden are packed with chlorophyll, proteins, vitamins, minerals, botanicals, antioxidants, amino acids and Who knows what else. Moreover, they are provided in a synchronistic way that we cannot yet fully understand. Taking a vitamin pill or a medical drug can’t possibly come close to what Mother Nature has given us through plants. By eating a wide variety of different plants (grown by natural means) you can provide your body with everything it needs to heal itself. This is not to say that medical assistance is not valuable. However, many minor and even some not-so-minor ailments can heal themselves by improving the quality of the food you eat – namely fresh organic produce from your own garden.

Advantages and disadvantages of green roofs

In recent years, green roofs have become more common. You can see them on big urban buildings, schools, farms, houses, flats and many more buildings. Green roofs are also called eco-roofs and are getting more and more popular. Green roofs have many advantages as well as several disadvantages, which will all be discussed in this article.

What is a green roof?

Before we dive into the advantages and disadvantages of green roofs, it is important to have a good understanding of what green roofs exactly are and why they are getting more popular these days. A green roof is a flat or slightly pitched roof that is partially or wholly covered with a layer of a growing medium and vegetation. The vegetation is planted over a waterproofing membrane that is installed on top of the roof.

The green roofs that men knew in ancient times are not similar to the ones that we know today. Until the late 19th century, turf roofs were most common. These roofs consisted of sloping wooden boards with several layers of birch bark and a layer of sod on top. It was very common in Scandinavia. Turf roofs provided the people with good insulation during the summer- and winter months. On the other hand, these roofs were not waterproof and could not keep out vermin. Modern green roofs are relatively new and were first developed in the mid-20th century in Germany, which is now one of the frontrunners. More than 10% of all roofs in Germany are green roofs, and this number is increasing in most other countries as well. Modern green roofs are made of manufactured layers that are placed over the conventional roof.

There are three different types of green roofs. These are intensive, semi-intensive and extensive. Intensive green roofs have deep soil and an optimal irrigation system. Because of this, a greater diversity of plants can be supported. However, it is expensive and more maintenance is required. Extensive green roofs have thin soil, which is more suitable for larger areas. Maintenance is minimal, little technical expertise is needed and it often looks more natural. But the downside is that the choice of plants is more limited.

The basic elements of a green roof are a roof barrier, irrigation system, drainage layer, soil and vegetation. The growing medium is not the same material as traditional soil, which is used for a garden of a house plant. Traditional soil is heavy and tight after rainfall. This reduces the aeration of the plant roots. Growing medium, however, is crafted from mineral aggregates and little organic material. The structure can hold water and supports good aeration.

Advantages and disadvantages

It is not random that green roofs are getting increasingly popular. Green roofs have many advantages. This includes environmental advantages as well as economic advantages. But unsurprisingly, there are also a few downsides to green roofs. Here is an overview of the most significant advantages and disadvantages of green roofs.

Advantage: improved stormwater management

A green roof helps control and reduce stormwater runoff. In most urban areas, there are few green spaces and mostly impenetrable surfaces. Stormwater runs off the roofs of buildings and houses into gutters, after which it flows into the sewer and enters the municipal water treatment facility or is deposited in lakes and rivers. Rainwater and industrial wastewater are collected in the same sewage system. When there is too much stormwater, a city’s sewage system can overflow. As a result, sewage that contains substances that are harmful to the environment, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are discharged into lakes and rivers.

Green roofs help to prevent this from happening by reducing over 75 per cent of the water runoff during rainstorms. All this water is retained by the growing medium and vegetation of the green roof. Aside from that, the soil also functions as a filter. It retains the water’s environmentally harmful pollutants, which helps to neutralize acid rainwater and even stimulates the growth of the plants. The soil also traps dust and other particles. As the vegetation and its root system grows and matures, the retention of stormwater increases even more.

Advantage: heat reduction in urban areas

In cities and urban areas, the temperature is much higher than in surrounding rural areas. This phenomenon is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is most noticeable during the summer months. It occurs because the sun’s radiation is being absorbed by the paved surfaces of cities. The radiation is re-emitted as heat, increasing the local air temperature and making cities at least 4 °C / 7.2 °F hotter than the surrounding rural areas.

Green roofs combat the Urban Heat Island effect by absorbing much more heat than conventional roofs. According to a modelling study in Toronto, the entire city can be cooled down by up to 0.8 °C / 1.4 °F by adding green roofs to half of the surface downtown.

Besides absorbing more heat, green roofs also use solar radiation for transpiring moisture from the plants and evaporating water from the soil. This process is called ‘evapotranspiration’. It lowers the temperature on the roof itself, which decreases the amount of heat that goes into the building.

Disadvantage: high weight load

A green roof is often very heavy. Not all buildings have a roof that is strong enough to support a green roof’s added weight, especially when the green roof is from the ‘intensive’ category. Therefore, many buildings would need to properly reinforce their roof before they can support the layers of a green roof. An extensive green roof weighs less and could be supported by most roofs, but on the roofs of high buildings, the chance that your seedlings and plants will be damaged due to the wind is higher for extensive green roofs than for intensive green roofs.

Advantage: ecological benefits

Green roofs have many ecological benefits. One of those is that green roofs result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. By adding all types of vegetation in an urban area, photosynthesis increases. As a result, the level of carbon dioxide that the area emits via industries and vehicles reduces. Meanwhile, the level of oxygen in the area increases. Another ecological benefit of green roofs is that they provide the urban wilderness with natural habitats. It attracts birds, bees and many other insects. Thus, green roofs increase the biodiversity in cities. Green roofs also save energy. Because of the cooling effect that green roofs have, air conditioning is needed much less often or at least to a lesser extent. This saves energy, which in turn has a positive effect on the temperature in the cities. And last but not least, due to the reduction of the temperature on the roof, the efficiency of solar panels increases, which also saves energy. Getting a green roof for your solar panels to be more efficient is a reason why some people purchase a green roof.

Advantage: improved wellbeing

In many ways, green roofs contribute to an increased well-being of not only animals but also humans. For example, green roofs make the air in urban areas cleaner by purifying the air. Pollutants, carbon dioxide and dust are filtered out of the air. This lowers the rates of asthma and other diseases for example. Also, building green roofs increases the urban green space. It is found that green environments have a positive effect on people’s well-being. It reduces stress and instead offers a feeling of relaxation. The enjoyment and comfort of people living and working in areas where buildings have green roofs are improved.

Making the area greener also causes the so-called ‘healing environment’. It appears that patients recover much faster in a green environment, which means that patients have a shorter stay at the hospital. In addition, people’s tolerance of pain is generally higher in green environments.

Disadvantage: structural difficulties

Besides the fact that not all roofs can support the weight of a green roof, the slope of the roof also plays a big role. Only a limited amount of slope is allowed, meaning that green roofs can only be installed on slightly sloped roofs or flat roofs. The maximum allowed slope of a roof is 25 degrees. So, if you have a traditional roof that has a higher slope than 25 degrees, you cannot install a green roof.

Advantage: economical

Besides being beneficial for the biodiversity, environment and wellbeing of animals and people, green roofs are also beneficial for your wallet. Not initially, because installing a green roof usually costs more than installing a traditional roof, but many economic benefits will make up for this in the long term. The R-value, which is a measure of a material’s resistance to heat flow, is higher for green roofs. This lessens the need for using air conditioning and therefore saves energy. Besides having a positive effect on the environment, it also results in a lower energy bill. A study performed by the University of Michigan concluded that over 40 years, a green roof would reduce your energy bills by about €160.000 / $200.000.

Although the installation of a green roof is initially more expensive, it is cheaper to replace a green roof than to replace a traditional roof. The reason for this is that most of the materials that green roofs are made up of can be salvaged. As a result, the replacement costs are circa one-third of the initial costs for installing the roof. Aside from that, green roofs protect the roofing system much better from extreme heat and UV radiation, which results in fewer maintenance costs and extends the life of your roofing system. A green roof can last more than double the years before it needs to be replaced compared to a traditional roof.

To what extent the economic benefits of green roofs account for a specific roof depends on many factors that differ per roof. This includes the location, building, surrounding environment and design.

Disadvantage: leaks in the roof

To prevent the roots of the vegetation from growing through the roof, green roofs have a root barrier layer. But sometimes, it still occurs that the plant roots penetrate the green roof’s waterproof membrane. This causes leaks that could consequently lead to structural damage to your roof. You need to pay to repair the leak, but this is easier said than done. It is far from easy to locate the source of the leak in the roof, let alone to repair it. Leaks occur less often in extensive green roofs since a thin growing medium prevents plants from growing large enough to develop a deep and strong root system.

If you have a green roof, you can have an annual roof inspection done. During such an inspection, possibly problematic vegetation is removed. This reduces the chance that leaks will occur in your roof. Companies are also developing detectors that can trace a leak’s path to the source.

Other advantages

Other advantages of green roofs are:

  • Green roofs insulate sound by absorbing up to 30% of the noise pollution in urban areas.
  • Greening the buildings in cities is visually appealing and attracts the attention of people. The sustainable appearance contributes to an increase in the property’s value.
  • Plants create a fire-resistant layer on the building since plants contain a lot of moisture.
  • The vegetation of green roofs ensures that the roof’s substrate will not be blown away when there is a storm and forms an erosion-resistant layer for the roof.