Recent Posts

Why is bamboo so special?


Bamboo is a well-known plant species that is often associated with pandas or seen as a type of tree, although it is actually a species of sweetgrass. It has hollow stems with nodes and leaves, and it can be found in a variety of climates. For example, it occurs in tropical jungles and also in the Himalayas. Bamboo is very special for many reasons, which we will discuss in this article.

Growth

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. Where a wood requires 20 to 50 years to reach its full height, bamboo will reach its full height after roughly one year of growth at a speed of 5 to 20 centimetres per day. There are even a few species that can grow nearly a meter per day. In comparison to cotton, about 10 times more bamboo can be produced per square meter of land due to this rapid growth. And, when bamboo has reached maturity (which takes some species a couple of months and other species a couple of years), it creates roughly 15 times more wood per hectare than trees. As soon as bamboo sprouts from the ground, it reaches its maximum thickness, after which it will only keep growing in length.

Not only does bamboo grow incredibly fast, but it also grows incredibly high. Bamboo species grow to different heights varying from several centimetres to 30 meters. The thickness of bamboo also differs a lot among the different species, varying from a few millimetres to more than 25 centimetres.

Versatile

The tensile strength of bamboo is higher than the tensile strength of steel. Bamboo is also stronger than wood but also bends further without breaking due to its high ‘flexibility per mass’ density. Meanwhile, with bamboo, you can make very soft clothing. This shows that bamboo is one of the most versatile plants on earth, if not the most versatile plant. It has countless applications, mainly in the construction sector (think of flooring and roofing). For example, in combination with reinforced concrete, bamboo can increase a building’s resistance to earthquakes, which is very useful for building in areas that are prone to earthquakes. But bamboo also has applications in making furniture, clothing, paper, cosmetics and much more.

Bamboo is also a great source of food. Bamboo shoots contain a high fibre content and are low in fat and calorie contents. However, the amount of vitamins and minerals decreases as bamboo gets older. Bamboo shoots also contain amino acids that are necessary for us. It is mainly eaten by people living in China, and by animals from which the panda is best known. The food source is also considered for medical purposes like control and treatment of diabetes and cholesterol.

Worldwide, about 15 to 20 million tonnes of bamboo products are being produced annually at this moment of time, and this number keeps growing as the market for bamboo increases.

Sustainable

Bamboo is a highly sustainable material, and with more than 40 million hectares of bamboo around the world, that makes it one of the best plants when it comes to fighting climate change. Bamboo contributes significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gases. It can store about 5 times more CO2 in its hollow parts than an equal quantity of trees. Moso bamboo represents circa 75% of all Chinese Bamboo forest areas and is known as a carbon sink. Besides absorbing much CO2, bamboo releases about 35% more oxygen than equivalent-sized hardwood forests.

Bamboo is also known to be an excellent wastewater absorber in different industries such as the agricultural industry. It can clean polluted soil to a very high extent. By accumulating silicon to alleviate the metal toxicity, soil-bamboo systems can remove up to 98% to 99% of nutrients and organic matter.

Furthermore, bamboo can counter soil degradation, which includes soil erosion, soil nutrient depletion, and a decrease in biodiversity. The intense management that is needed for bamboo can have a negative effect on the soil microbial activity. But in the form of fine biochar, bamboo actually has a positive effect on microbial activity.

Another sustainable practice that bamboo can serve is being used as biofuel. Because of the high amounts of sugar, it is a suitable plant for making products like bioethanol. Its high yield of biomass in a short amount of time is a big advantage to the production of biofuel. Its overall characteristics make bamboo a good alternative for most other woody plants that can be used to produce biofuel. Producing biogas with bamboo is also possible.

Another sustainable factor of bamboo is that pesticides and other chemicals are not required for bamboo to thrive.

Regenerative

Bamboo is a regenerative plant, which means that growth is stimulated when bamboo is cut. This depends much upon the nature of bamboo’s growth. A cut bamboo stalk will not direct its energy towards regaining its original height, but it will unfurl new leaves. These leaves send energy to the bamboo’s root system, which results in the growth of new shoots. Due to this system, bamboo will regrow naturally. So, for every shoot that you cut off, more shoots will come in the place.

You can also propagate bamboo. This means that you cut sections of the stem and replant these. These bamboo sections grow new roots and become an exact copy of the parent bamboo plant. Propagation is something that you can do yourself, even at home. It shows how easy it is to grow more individual bamboo plants.

Fun facts

Here are some awesome facts about bamboo:

· Bamboo flowers are very rare. Some species even take more than 100 years to develop flowers.

· A bamboo grove was the only form of plant life that survived the radiation and massive heat from the atomic bombings in Japan (Hiroshima in 1945) which shows the resilience of bamboo.

· Bamboo is considered in China as a symbol of values, among which are grace and positivity. The term ‘lucky bamboo’ in Chinese culture comes from the belief that bamboo brings good fortune.

Why is bamboo so special?

Bamboo is a well-known plant species that is often associated with pandas or seen as a type of tree, although it is actually a species of sweetgrass. It has hollow stems with nodes and leaves, and it can be found in a variety of climates. For example, it occurs in tropical jungles and also in the Himalayas. Bamboo is very special for many reasons, which we will discuss in this article.

Growth

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. Where a wood requires 20 to 50 years to reach its full height, bamboo will reach its full height after roughly one year of growth at a speed of 5 to 20 centimetres per day. There are even a few species that can grow nearly a meter per day. In comparison to cotton, about 10 times more bamboo can be produced per square meter of land due to this rapid growth. And, when bamboo has reached maturity (which takes some species a couple of months and other species a couple of years), it creates roughly 15 times more wood per hectare than trees. As soon as bamboo sprouts from the ground, it reaches its maximum thickness, after which it will only keep growing in length.

Not only does bamboo grow incredibly fast, but it also grows incredibly high. Bamboo species grow to different heights varying from several centimetres to 30 meters. The thickness of bamboo also differs a lot among the different species, varying from a few millimetres to more than 25 centimetres.

Versatile

The tensile strength of bamboo is higher than the tensile strength of steel. Bamboo is also stronger than wood but also bends further without breaking due to its high ‘flexibility per mass’ density. Meanwhile, with bamboo, you can make very soft clothing. This shows that bamboo is one of the most versatile plants on earth, if not the most versatile plant. It has countless applications, mainly in the construction sector (think of flooring and roofing). For example, in combination with reinforced concrete, bamboo can increase a building’s resistance to earthquakes, which is very useful for building in areas that are prone to earthquakes. But bamboo also has applications in making furniture, clothing, paper, cosmetics and much more.

Bamboo is also a great source of food. Bamboo shoots contain a high fibre content and are low in fat and calorie contents. However, the amount of vitamins and minerals decreases as bamboo gets older. Bamboo shoots also contain amino acids that are necessary for us. It is mainly eaten by people living in China, and by animals from which the panda is best known. The food source is also considered for medical purposes like control and treatment of diabetes and cholesterol.

Worldwide, about 15 to 20 million tonnes of bamboo products are being produced annually at this moment of time, and this number keeps growing as the market for bamboo increases.

Sustainable

Bamboo is a highly sustainable material, and with more than 40 million hectares of bamboo around the world, that makes it one of the best plants when it comes to fighting climate change. Bamboo contributes significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gases. It can store about 5 times more CO2 in its hollow parts than an equal quantity of trees. Moso bamboo represents circa 75% of all Chinese Bamboo forest areas and is known as a carbon sink. Besides absorbing much CO2, bamboo releases about 35% more oxygen than equivalent-sized hardwood forests.

Bamboo is also known to be an excellent wastewater absorber in different industries such as the agricultural industry. It can clean polluted soil to a very high extent. By accumulating silicon to alleviate the metal toxicity, soil-bamboo systems can remove up to 98% to 99% of nutrients and organic matter.

Furthermore, bamboo can counter soil degradation, which includes soil erosion, soil nutrient depletion, and a decrease in biodiversity. The intense management that is needed for bamboo can have a negative effect on the soil microbial activity. But in the form of fine biochar, bamboo actually has a positive effect on microbial activity.

Another sustainable practice that bamboo can serve is being used as biofuel. Because of the high amounts of sugar, it is a suitable plant for making products like bioethanol. Its high yield of biomass in a short amount of time is a big advantage to the production of biofuel. Its overall characteristics make bamboo a good alternative for most other woody plants that can be used to produce biofuel. Producing biogas with bamboo is also possible.

Another sustainable factor of bamboo is that pesticides and other chemicals are not required for bamboo to thrive.

Regenerative

Bamboo is a regenerative plant, which means that growth is stimulated when bamboo is cut. This depends much upon the nature of bamboo’s growth. A cut bamboo stalk will not direct its energy towards regaining its original height, but it will unfurl new leaves. These leaves send energy to the bamboo’s root system, which results in the growth of new shoots. Due to this system, bamboo will regrow naturally. So, for every shoot that you cut off, more shoots will come in the place.

You can also propagate bamboo. This means that you cut sections of the stem and replant these. These bamboo sections grow new roots and become an exact copy of the parent bamboo plant. Propagation is something that you can do yourself, even at home. It shows how easy it is to grow more individual bamboo plants.

Fun facts

Here are some awesome facts about bamboo:

· Bamboo flowers are very rare. Some species even take more than 100 years to develop flowers.

· A bamboo grove was the only form of plant life that survived the radiation and massive heat from the atomic bombings in Japan (Hiroshima in 1945) which shows the resilience of bamboo.

· Bamboo is considered in China as a symbol of values, among which are grace and positivity. The term ‘lucky bamboo’ in Chinese culture comes from the belief that bamboo brings good fortune.

What is veganism?


Veganism is a hot topic these days. Chances are you have heard the term before or know somebody that is vegan. Blogs about veganism pop up everywhere and restaurants offer more and more vegan options on their menu. There are even cafes and meal services that are completely focused on vegan food. If you are not too familiar with veganism, you might be wondering what exactly veganism is and why it is such a hot topic these days. Or you already know something about it and would like to know more or consider going vegan yourself. If any of these is the case, this article is for you. It provides you with everything you should know about veganism: what being vegan means, the history of veganism, what the difference from vegetarianism is, reasons there are for going vegan and how you can go vegan yourself.

What does being vegan mean?

Veganism is a philosophy and way of living that abstains from all sorts of animal products. This applies mainly to diet, but it also applies to clothing and cosmetics for example. While excluding animal products, it promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives.

People that follow this philosophy are known as vegans. In the simplest terms, being vegan means that you do not eat, drink or in any way consume or use animal products. This includes not eating a hamburger, not drinking milk, not wearing a fur coat and restraining from many of the shampoos and cosmetics. Many vegans also choose to avoid animal-derived additives, such as gelatin and casein, which is often included in products such as wine, gummy candies, marshmallows and chewing gum.

Being vegan is not as straightforward as you might think, since there are a lot of ways to be vegan, especially when it comes to diet. Therefore, different types of vegans are distinguished.

· Dietary vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products but might use products that contain animal (by)products. So, eating a portion of mutton is not okay, but wearing a woollen sweater is.

· Raw-food vegans do not cook any of their food and stick to raw vegetables and legumes.

· Whole-food vegans do not eat any processed foods, so no plant-based burgers or frozen meals.

· Low-fat vegans focus on reducing fat intake and therefore avoid high-fat vegetables and fruits such as avocados. 

The history of veganism

Although the term veganism was established less than a century ago, people choosing to avoid animal products can be traced back over 2000 years. In 500 BCE, none other than the Greek philosopher Pythagoras promoted benevolence among all species. He also followed a particular diet that could be described as a raw vegan and his students followed a plant-based diet in his school.

Donald Watson played a big role in the emergence and early development of veganism. In 1924, he became a vegetarian after he realized that his uncle’s farm was a death row for animals that would be killed if they were no longer of service to humans. He joined the Vegetarian Society in Leicester, England. More than a year later, he came to believe that vegetarianism had to be reformed. Together with a small group, Watson’s group asked the Vegetarian Society’s newsletter to include a section devoted to non-dairy vegetarianism. The request was turned down. After this, the group started their own newsletter called ‘The Vegan News’. The word ‘vegan’ was constructed from the first three and last two letters of the word ‘vegetarian’. It became a success. November 1st is now known as World Vegan Day, marking the founding of the Vegan Society.

In the following decades, the vegan movement emerged in other countries as well. The vegan diet became mainstream in the 2010s. The meaning of vegan for food labels was defined by the European Parliament in 2010. Supermarkets and restaurants started to expand their selection of vegan food and articles about veganism became increasingly popular. Today, the vegan movement is still growing and is more popular than ever as more and more people get into it for either themselves or the world (or both). In another section, we will go into detail on why people go vegan.

What is the difference from vegetarianism?

Something that you are probably aware of now is that vegetarianism and veganism are not the same thing. Just like vegans, vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, but there are definitely differences between the two. The biggest difference is that vegetarians tend to consume dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt) and eggs, whereas vegans do not eat any animal-based products, including dairy products and animal-derived additives. But there are, just like with veganism, different types of vegetarians. since there are different types of vegetarians. For example, Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but not eggs, and for ovo-vegetarians, it is the other way around.

In essence, the vegan diet is much stricter than the diets of most vegetarians. This often extends to other categories such as medicines and clothing in which animals or animal products are used. A vegan would not use cosmetics that have been tested on animals, wear a leather belt or take medicine capsules containing gelatin. Vegetarians are less strict when it comes to these categories.

Reasons for going vegan

There are many different motives and reasons for becoming vegan, which vary from person to person. However, there are three very common reasons why people become vegans. Most vegans can resonate with at least one of them.

Ethics

The first common reason for people to become vegan is because they strongly believe that all animals have the right to live their lives free of cruelty, preferably freely in their natural habitats. These people are ‘ethical vegans’. They oppose ending an animal’s life for the sake of consuming its meat, wearing its skin or drinking its milk. Ethical vegans also oppose the psychological and physical stress that the animals endure as a result of the practices of modern farming. The animals barely leave the space that they live in between birth and slaughter. These are often mega stables in which the animals live crammed together. Ethical vegans speak out against the practices of the farming industry by raising awareness, protesting and opting for products free of animals and animal products.

Health

Another reason for people to go vegan is because of the potential health benefits that it has for your body. Just to name a few: your skin becomes clearer, you will experience fewer stomach aches, your energy levels will increase while your stress levels will be reduced. Here is a list of the most significant health benefits of a vegan diet:

Your energy levels are likely to increase. Eating foods that spike your blood sugar will lead to sluggishness and an unfocused mind. Healthy foods are what our bodies need in order to have higher energy levels and clarity of mind. A vegan, plant-based diet can help with that as it generally contains healthy foods.

Your immune system will be better. Plants contain essential nutrients that you cannot get from any other foods. The antioxidants, minerals and vitamins in the plants keep your cells healthy, which helps to fight off infections. This makes sure that your immune system can function at its best, reducing the risk for heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

You gain or maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight causes inflammation and hormonal imbalance. It also significantly increases your risk of getting cancer. A vegan diet removes many of the foods that lead to weight gain.

It promotes psychological health. Besides benefits for your physique, a vegan diet also has benefits for your mental state. A stable mental condition is key for a high quality of life. Studies have shown that the sources of a vegan diet, such as grains, citrus fruits and leafy green, have positive effects on your psychological health.

You might live longer. Longer life is actually the result of all the other benefits. The risk of all causes of mortality is lowered by about 25 per cent when following a vegan diet.

Environment

The third most common reason for people to become vegan is to protect the environment. Animal agriculture is arguably the largest drain on our natural sources and therefore the biggest threat to the climate, nature and biodiversity. Climate change, nature loss and animal species on the verge of extinction are all effects of human activity. We emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, which causes the greenhouse effect, leading to global warming, wildfires and unpredictable extreme weather. Big areas of rainforest are being cut down at a high rate, which destroys the home of countless wild animal species. We kill animals for their meat and body parts, driving species to extinction and causing disruption of the ecosystems.

These are all huge concerns for the future of all life on earth. More people, especially the younger generations, want to do something about this. The best possible thing that a person can do to make a difference is going vegan. As a vegan, you do not contribute to the demand of the biggest threat to our environment: animal agriculture. Out of all sectors and industries, the animal agriculture sector emits by far the most greenhouse gases: more than 85 percent. In addition, the sector tends to be very water-intensive. For example, about 500-5000 gallons / 1700 – 20.000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1 pound of beef. Being aware of how long you shower does not matter that much when you eat meat, because eating just one hamburger is equivalent to roughly 2 months of showering. Animal agriculture in the United States has a share of more than 50% of the entire water consumption of the United States. Furthermore, animal agriculture is the main cause of deforestation. Many people think that the forests are being cut down in order to plant soybean plants, meanwhile, only a fraction of the areas being cut down is used for that. The rest is all used for keeping livestock.

Vegans also don’t eat fish because they do not want to contribute another big threat to our planet, especially the oceans: the fishing industry. Fish are being caught with gigantic nets that scrape the ocean floor and destroy the coral. When catching fish, other animals like sharks and dolphins are caught as well. They are ‘bycatch’. After getting the fish on board, most of the bycatch is thrown back into the ocean, but the majority has already died by then.

How can I become vegan?

If you consider going vegan for any reason, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First of all, it is something that you probably have to get used to. If you are eating meat on a daily basis, it would be best to slowly but surely phase out of eating meat and start eating vegan. There are numerous approaches that you can take, so take your time and slowly move towards veganism. For example, start by making small changes to your everyday meals by increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your diet and eating meat less often. It is important that you take an approach that you feel is best for you.

Also very important is that you do your research on which essential nutrients you might be missing out on when you stop eating meat and what foods you should supplement you diet with to get those nutrients elsewhere. There are more than enough guides and blogs out there that provide you with the right information, give tips or share recipes.

And last but not least: keep reminding yourself why you are doing this. A vegan lifestyle is not always easy. It has many benefits, but also some things that you have to deal with. For example, not every restaurant or shop offers a wide range of vegan options. You might experience social pressure when you are at a barbecue or get criticized by people you know. When your vegan journey gets hard: don’t give up. Soon it will be your second nature. Remember why you are doing this and that you are not the only one. There are lots of vegan chat groups out there that you can join to get support from others and motivate each other.

10 ways to help save bees


As a species, we humans depend on many other species on earth. One species in particular that we depend on heavily, is bees. It’s hard to imagine that without these small flying insects we would not be able to survive much longer, but it is the truth. Much of our food sources depend on the pollination of bees. Sadly, the number of bees around the world is declining fast because of our actions.

Since the last century, the number of bees has declined by circa 60%. Bees dying without a significant or clear cause has been reported since the year 1868. We call this Colony Collapse Disorder. But nowadays, the rate of death is higher than it has ever been. Investigations show that bee declines are probably driven by a combination of all sorts of problems: pesticides, parasites, drought, air pollution, global warming As well as a lack of flowers and plants. Many of these causes are interrelated. In this article, we will look at 10 ways for us to help save the bees.

1. Do not use pesticides and herbicides

Pesticides are substances that mainly farmers and garden keepers use. It kills or controls certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered pests. Pests eat or overgrow plants and harvest if they are not controlled. Among the best-known types of pesticides are herbicides, which destroy unwanted vegetation such as weeds. Herbicides are not directly lethal to bees, but they prevent the growth of wildflowers which are food sources for bees and other pollinators. Insecticides are another type of pesticide, which are used to combat a wide variety of insect species. Unlike herbicides, pesticides are directly lethal to bees and other pollinators due to the chemicals they contain. Even organic approved insecticides can be harmful. Other than that, several toxic chemicals found in pesticides are suspected to be the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Instead of using toxic pesticides or any substance at all to keep unwanted pests out of your garden, you could best fight pests by preventing them from becoming a problem. You can do this in several ways, such as rotating the crop, planting sacrificial plants that attract the pests, and creating a diverse environment of many different plants.

If that does not work or you want an alternative for pesticides, you could use bee-friendly natural alternatives. ‘Natural pesticides’ come from natural sources, do not cause more harm than good and are not harmful to humans. White vinegar is a good example. Without harming or killing the pollinators, it kills ants, rabbits, fruit flies, bugs and several other pests. Other examples are garlic-pepper spray, cayenne pepper spray and insecticidal soaps. Using natural pest repellents is also a good way to fight pests and also provide food sources for bees. You could plant lavender and lemongrass for example, which repel many unwanted animals and are loved by bees.

2. Make your garden bee-friendly

A simple, yet very effective way to help save bees is to keep your garden wild or plant a wild garden. Bees rely on plants and flowers that contain their only source of food: nectar and pollen. In most modern gardens, we have lawns without any (wild) flowers. By rethinking your garden and planting flowers and wild vegetation that provides the bees with food, you support the bees living in your city. Thereby you support the production of food sources that humans depend on. If you do not have a garden, you can place a flower bed on your windowsill or balcony.

The best way to make your garden wild is by planting patches of native flowering plants, which enables bees to pollinate more efficiently. Choose diverse species with different shapes, colours and bloom times. Also, preferably plant single top flowers, since these flowers have more nectar than double top flowers. Several good options for a wild, bee-friendly garden are lavender, chives, hyacinth, and asters. Examples of seasonal options are calendula and wild lilac flowers in the spring, snapdragons and echinacea during the summer months, and goldenrod and sedum in the fall.

3. Build bee homes

Except for the famous honey bee, most bee species are solitary. About 70 percent of solitary bees live underground, while 30 percent live in holes found in hollow stems and trees. Despite the name, solitary bees are not lone rangers in the field and often occupy the same living spaces. You can provide them with these living spaces by building or buying bee hotels that consist of several sorts of hollow stems, holes and tiny rooms in which the solitary bees can take residence.

Luckily, solitary bees are not very picky when it comes to living spaces. Most species will take advantage of a proper bee hotel. One of the simplest ways to build a bee home is by using bamboo. You can place a handful of bamboo canes in a wooden box and hang it preferably somewhere sunny. This simple yet very efficient bee home will be attractive to carpenter bees and mason bees in particular.

Another type of bee home is the wooden bee house. It is similar to a birdhouse, but the ‘house’ is open and loaded with wooden blocks with holes in them. You could also use wooden planks with slots in them. However, instead of using one of these forms, most people build bee homes that contain a variety of holes, slots and other types of safe residences for bees.

4. Provide trees for bees

You probably wouldn’t expect it, but bees get most of their nectar from trees. A blooming tree provides hundreds of blossoms for bees and other pollinators to feed on. Besides being an important food source for bees, trees also form essential habitats for them. Natural wood cavities provide the bees with great shelter, and the resin and leaves provide them with nesting material.

Unsurprisingly, trees are very essential to bees. But as you might know, deforestation is on the rise. Trees are being cut down to make space for keeping livestock, plantations, industrial development or new homes for humans. You can make a difference by helping to maintain the natural habitat of bees. For example, you could plant trees in your garden, join a tree-planting party in your area, or talk to the township about building and protecting the natural habitat of bees.

5. Become a beekeeper

If you want to commit to saving bees, you can become a beekeeper. As a beekeeper, you take care of one or more honey bee colonies. For many people, this is a hobby as well as a small business as you can harvest and sell the excess honey that the bees produce.

Becoming a beekeeper sounds easier than it might seem. Beekeeping will take you quite some time and effort. Preferably you will have to follow and pass a beekeeping course to gain the right knowledge about bee behaviour and taking care of the bees.

As a beekeeper, you will need a hive that needs roughly 7 feet / 2 meters of outdoor space. If you don’t have outside space for a hive, you could check if there is a place in your area where your hive can be placed. After buying a colony or even collecting a wild swarm if legal, you are ready and set. Once your hive is established, beekeeping requires very little daily effort. On most days, you will just check in on the colony and see if they are productive and healthy. You have to take care of the bees, protect them against parasites like the varroa mite and feed them when needed.

6. Install a bee bath

Just like humans, bees need water to survive. The foraging and collecting of nectar can make the bees very thirsty. There is not always water nearby for the bees, so providing them with a bee bath helps local bees a lot. You could fill a shallow bowl or plate with water and place it in your garden. It would be best to make some space for the bees under or next to the bath. This way, the bees will have a safe place to land, settle down and rest, and they can get hydrated whenthey are feeling thirsty.

Placing stones and sponges in the bath is a good idea as it prevents the bees from drowning. If you have pollen-rich plants in your garden, place the bee bath close to those plants. This makes it easier for the bees to locate the bee bath. Also, place the bee bath in the shade to prevent the water from evaporating.

You can easily make a bee bath yourself, but you could also buy one.

7. Make your roof green

Cities are now beginning to recognize the importance of creating green spaces and habitats for bees and other pollinators that contribute to rich urban biodiversity. Green roofs are considered a way for cities to compensate for the loss of natural habitat. Big cities like Toronto and London are now investing in green spaces and green roofs. The Dutch city Utrecht is often mentioned due to making the roofs of pretty much all bus stop shelters green.

You can turn your roof to a green roof, either by doing it yourself or by letting a professional install it. A green roof is usually 7 to 20 centimetres deep. You will need things like a waterproof layer and a root barrier before you can place the soil and plant the seeds of pollinator-friendly vegetation.

8. Be active online

If you want to talk about the importance of saving bees with like-minded people or if you want to spread a message to people that are not very familiar with the topic: both can be done online. There are many local, national and international groups on Facebook and Instagram which you can join that have members that are passionate about bees. If you are a beekeeper, you can join a group of beekeepers. If you want to start a campaign with others, you can surely find a group with people that would be interested to do that with you. You can also sign up for newsletters concerning bees so you can stay informed, or sign petitions to pressure your state and country to pass regulations that help the bees.

9. Support ethical beekeeping

Supporting local beekeepers and supporting bees goes hand in hand. If possible, buy local raw honey from beekeepers and farmers instead of honey in the supermarket from which you are not sure of its quality and provenance. The reason for this is that commercial honey is often produced through unethical beekeeping, which means that the bees are overworked and under-compensated. Ethical honey comes from beekeepers that are more concerned about the welfare and health of bees than maximizing their honey output. Ethical beekeeping means that the bees are allowed to eat natural diets, exercise their natural behaviour in a healthy and free environment, and live as closely as possible to how bees live in the wild.

10. Educate others

Educating others on why bees should be saved and how to do it could be just as important as doing it yourself. Talk to neighbours, family and friends about ways to save bees, or show them your bee home, bee bath or bee-friendly garden. If you have kids, you could educate them as well and letting them give their presentations about bees and their importance in class. You could also think of ways to educate a wider audience. For example, you could write a blog about the topic, make videos, give presentations for organizations, create a bee-information booth at events, or start a campaign or fundraiser.

How can we counter the plastic soup


Plastic pollution of the ocean is a global problem caused by the enormous amounts of plastic that end up in the ocean every year. This has major consequences for all marine life and even for us. It is important that we clean up the plastic soup and prevent the emergence of the plastic soup. But how can we do this, and how can you contribute to this? In this article you will find out.

How did plastic come about?

In order to fully understand what we are talking about, we should go back to the origin of plastic. The explosive substance ‘nitrocellulose’ was first prepared in France around 1833. This turned out to be a substance for making the plastic ‘celluloid’. It was used for producing the first films and making jewelry. When it was discovered years later that plastic could also be made from coal, the production of plastics took off even more. After the Second World War, many other plastics were discovered with more favorable properties. Since plastics were lighter, less brittle, more easily deformable and cheaper than pottery and glass, the mass production of plastics started. Plastics have been a huge asset to all industries. It was the new gold, but nowadays plastics are less honor bound…

How does plastic end up in the ocean?

The world population is growing and this is increasing consumer demand for plastics. Manufacturers take advantage of this and provide a huge range of plastic products on the market for different sectors. Of these sectors, the food sector produces by far the most plastic. Approximately 40% of all plastic products are intended for single use. These plastics are called single-use plastics or disposable plastics. Examples of disposable plastic are plastic drinking bottles, straws, cigarettes, packaging and bags. About 124 million tons of single-use plastic is produced every year.

It is mainly these plastics that often end up on the street or in nature, the main cause of which is the ineffective way of waste management. Many landfills are uncontrolled, allowing plastic waste to spread into the environment. This is especially the case in low-income countries, such as large parts of South Asia and Africa. Also, little plastic is recycled, namely less than a quarter of the plastic waste. That is only 9% of all plastic waste worldwide.

In addition to ineffective waste management, many people regularly throw used straws or packaging on the street. The Plastic Soup Foundation reports that more than 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the United States alone and that approximately 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, which is equivalent to 1 million plastic bags per minute. Often, litter is the result of carelessness and unconscious behaviour.

The vast majority of single-use plastic that ends up on the streets, as well as plastic waste that ends up in landfills, is carried by wind or excess water and ends up in rivers and canals. These transport the plastic to the coastal waters. Today, more than 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year, of which about 12 million tons (4%) ends up in the ocean. Of this, an estimated 80% comes from land and the remaining 20% ​​from marine sources.

How is the plastic soup formed?

Only 1% of plastic waste in the ocean floats on the ocean surface. The remaining 99% has a greater density than seawater and may sink to the seabed. Under the influence of salt, UV light and waves, the plastic that floats on the ocean surface breaks apart into smaller pieces. Ultimately, only the polymers – the long molecular chains that make up plastics – are left. There are no biological processes that can break down the bonds within the polymers. That is why plastics are not completely broken down and very small pieces of plastic are formed, which are called ‘microplastics’. The microplastics that are formed eventually come together by being attracted to ring-shaped ocean currents at the ocean’s surface called ‘gyres’. These gyres are created by the wind pushing the water in different directions. Water in a gyre flows toward the center where it deflects downward. Microplastics flow with the water to the center and float there. The amount of plastic in the middle of such a gyre is around 10 KG per square kilometer. There is no such thing as a thick soup as people often think. It’s more like a plastic broth.

In what way does the plastic soup affect (marine) life?

The plastic soup poses a threat to all life in the ocean. Animals eat or become entangled in the plastic, resulting in injury or death. Approximately 100 million marine animals, including whales, sharks, seabirds and turtles, die due to encounters with plastic. The plastic soup also blocks sunlight, which phytoplankton – sea plants that produce 70% of all oxygen in the world – desperately need.

Besides marine life, the plastic soup is also a threat to humans. Plastic can enter the food chain when fish eat it. When we eat these fish, we ingest microplastics. This way, our bodies can come into contact with different toxic substances, with all its consequences. Reason enough to tackle the plastic soup.

Now that we know how the plastic soup is formed and what consequences it has, let’s look at what is most important: tackling the plastic soup.

What is being done to clean up the current plastic soup?

Globally there are several big organizations that have the mission to clean up the plastic soup. One of the best known is the Dutch non-profit organization ‘The Ocean Cleanup’. This organization was started in 2013 by former Dutch student Boyan Slat. The Ocean Cleanup aims to clean up 90% of floating ocean plastic pollution in the coming years. They want to do this with advanced technologies with which they can rid the oceans of plastic. They have developed a large, floating tube called ‘system 002’ and installed it in the biggest ocean garbage patch: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between California and Hawaii. This tube is designed to work passively because of the ocean’s currents. It first concentrates the plastic, after which it is effectively collected and removed, ready to be recycled. The Ocean Cleanup also aims to tackle plastic in the top 1000 most polluting rivers worldwide, which approximately 80% of all river plastic worldwide stems from. They have developed interceptors, which are fully solar-powered boat-like constructions that prevent plastic from entering the ocean via the rivers that the interceptors operate in.

Another big organization contributing to cleaning up the plastic soup is ‘4Ocean’. This organization operates worldwide and sells products made out of plastic, such as bracelets, merchandise and bottles. The concept is that for every purchase that is made, a pound of trash is pulled out of the ocean. The organization also takes part in beach cleanups, where much of the plastic that ends up in the ocean washes ashore.

What innovative developments are there to combat the emergence of the plastic soup?

Cleaning up the current plastic soup is one thing, but tackling the source and taking on the root of the problem is another thing. In order to prevent plastic pollution from emerging in the ocean, several innovations are implemented. Because mechanical recycling depends on the purity of the input stream (i.e. the degree to which the input stream consists of one type of plastic) and often additional cleaning technologies are required to make the end product meet the strict requirements for a next ‘life’, mechanical recycling is never 100% pure. Therefore, after being mechanically recycled about six times, the quality of plastic becomes too low for reuse at some point. The plastic is then no longer usable and ends up in landfills as plastic waste. Ineffective waste management allows this plastic waste to spread into the environment, eventually ending up in rivers, canals and sewers.

A method of plastic recycling that is currently being researched a lot is chemical recycling. The compounds in plastics are broken down by means of a chemical process and returned to the original building blocks. These are monomers, the particles that make up polymers. After chemical recycling, the product has the quality of the original polymer again, which increases the possibilities for reuse. Chemical recycling takes different forms, such as dissolving and incinerating plastic. The use of chemical recycling could be especially interesting for the mixed plastic flow in which all kinds of plastic end up together and which are difficult to mechanically recycle. Large-scale application of chemical recycling does not yet exist. However, there are interesting developments and applications on a small scale.

What policies are there against plastic waste?

More and more countries are taking measures against plastic waste by pursuing a specific policy. So is China, the country that has the largest share of plastic pollution in the oceans. In early 2018, the Chinese government introduced an import ban on 24 types of waste from abroad, including plastics, paper products and textiles. China was the largest importer of plastic waste in the world, representing 56% of the global market. The country no longer wanted to be the ‘drain’ of the world. That is why the Chinese government decided to implement a waste import policy at the end of 2017. Since the introduction of the policy, plastic waste imports into China have fallen by 99%. Instead of processing their own waste, many Western countries now transport their waste to other Asian countries. Waste transport from the UK to Malaysia, for example, has tripled since then, according to the Financial Times. As of April 2017, several Asian countries have followed China’s lead by returning illegally imported and mislabeled waste to the Western countries of origin. India has followed China’s lead. The second most populous country in the world, declared in 2018 that it wants to eliminate single-use plastic within 4 years.

The European Union is also taking action against plastic waste with a new policy. On March 27, 2019, the EU approved the European Single Used Plastic Directive.

Are there any substitutes for plastic?

The most effective way to combat plastic waste is to stop producing plastic. Because plastics are sorely needed in all major sectors, they must be replaced in that case. Compostable materials seem to be suitable substitutes. A lot of research is currently being conducted into new compostable materials to replace plastic in the future.

One of these materials is paper. Paper seems to be a more durable material than plastic. More and more shops are using paper bags instead of plastic bags. Paper comes from renewable sources, is easier to recycle than plastic and decomposes faster in nature. Bio-based plastics and nano paper are also realistic replacements for plastic in the future.

How can you contribute to a plastic-free ocean?

Now we get to the most important question: what can you do in order to tackle plastic pollution? Since it’s such a big global problem, it can seem as if your contribution can’t make much of a difference, but that is far from the truth. We consumers are the ones that buy, use and dispose of the plastic, so we can together make a huge difference if everybody does their part.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to ban all plastic from your life. That would be quite impossible since plastics are literally everywhere. But you can definitely take steps to do so as much as possible, following these tips:

· Buy less (conventional) plastic. Instead of buying single-use plastic products that you would throw away after using it once, like plastic bottles and sandwich bags, you could buy and use products that you will use for a long time (e.g. a sturdy water bottle and a cloth bread bag). Also, if the price difference is not an issue, you could buy wooden/bamboo products instead of plastic ones. Think of toothbrushes and chairs.

· Recycle. Everybody produces at least a little plastic waste. Make sure that when you do, you throw it away in a trash can instead of throwing it on the ground or in nature. Even better would be to separate your plastic waste from other waste, which will allow your plastic waste to be recycled.

· Take action. Making sure that your plastic waste is minimal and doesn’t end up in the ocean is great and is the least you could do, but you can do even more than that. For example, you could join a beach cleanup day, or point out to people in your environment how they can contribute to a plastic-free ocean.

High quality products are not as expensive as we think


When you purchase a product, the main factors that have an impact on your shopping behavior are price and quality. You are either looking for a low-priced product or a high-quality product. For many consumers, the price of the product is very often the most important feature. When focusing solely on the price of the product, this can come at a cost. Choosing the less expensive product over the more expensive (and higher quality) product will cost you not only more money, but this will also do more harm to our environment. But why? Most of the time we assume that a low-priced product cannot contain a certain minimum quality level. But is this always the case? Why are high quality products more sustainable than items with a lower quality? Are expensive products always more sustainable than lower priced products? This article will show you hopefully that you should not only consider the price of the product.

High quality products

To eliminate waste, choosing quality over price when purchasing a product is the way to go. You will end up saving money when you choose to invest in a high-quality product. The product does not need to be replaced frequently and this will avoid waste of products. When you are always choosing for the cheaper product, this will have a negative impact on small business owners. Over time they will not feel an incentive to produce sustainable anymore, because they see corporate business owners making a lot of profit with operating at low costs. Companies may keep their costs low by using chemicals and plastics that harm the earth.

Saving money?

Price is not always a clear indicator of quality. However, choosing quality over a lower price means choosing for sustainability. People buy high quality products so they don’t have to replace it often. This saves them money and they feel like they made a wise decision. Choosing for quality will bring greater sustainability on an individual level and this also encourages corporate social responsibility. Being sustainable will have a positive impact on the environment and consumerism. High-quality products will break less often so you don’t need to replace it every now and then with a new product.

Harmful waste

A product of low quality can easily break and then you need to replace the product with a new one. The product goes to waste and this waste builds up, because of people throwing their products away. These low-priced products could be made of materials that harm the environment. A majority of the consumers don’t know where their waste will end up.

High quality products are less breakable and are made of more sustainable materials most of the time. So even when these high-quality products break someday and go to waste, the used materials are more likely to be biodegradable by nature.

If you value companies that produce their products in a sustainable way, this will be a trigger for them to arrange their production process in a socially responsible way. This can be achieved by giving feedback as a customer or being more aware when making buying decisions.

Brands need to make sure their products and slogan align with the personal values of customers in order to win their favor. Offering a good product with high quality is no longer enough. People are searching for more than just quality in a product. Consumers will not support a brand financially if they can’t agree with their social values. They are ready to consider the consequences of their decisions and to change their harmful shopping habits. Sustainability is becoming a bigger factor in making a purchase. When purchasing an expensive product that is sustainable, this will make us feel less guilty about our self-indulgement shopping behaviour. Buying a high-quality item that also has an environmentally friendly angle, will make us feel better about making the purchase.

Many consumers want other people to know that they choose sustainable products. For many of these shoppers, purchasing only products that are produced environmentally friendly is a personal priority. They feel the urge to make a change and want to stop contributing to pollution. People are willing to pay a higher price for environmentally friendly products. But I think we need to break down the notion that sustainability is always more expensive. The definition of sustainability is that it is related to less waste and material use and this can lead to savings. However, in some cases producing sustainable products can lead to higher costs for manufacturers. So it is not always easy to completely switch up production in favor of more sustainable approaches. Despite of this, organisations have more reasons than ever to embrace sustainability.

On a b-2-b level many organisations only want to associate with partners and suppliers that behave ethically and sustainably. This will also be a trigger for businesses to be more aware of their carbon footprint and to arrange their production process in a more environmentally friendly way. When they don’t change their polluting production process, other businesses don’t want to be associated with them. In that case they cannot collaborate with other organisations any more. It is just a matter of time that businesses will lose customers because their brand does not align with the personal values of individual consumers anymore.

High-quality products are less breakable and have a more positive impact on the environment. These are the main reasons why people are more likely to choose high quality-products with a higher price over low-quality products with a lower price. The low-priced products will end up being a major expense for the world we live in. To protect our planet, we should be more aware of the purchasing choices we make and act in a more sustainable way.

10 benefits of sustainable living


By now we all know that sustainable living is important. You might have some ideas of why it is important, but there are more benefits to sustainable living than you might have thought of. In this article, I will discuss 10 of these benefits of sustainable living.

1. It helps stabilize the planet

This is arguably the most well-known benefit of sustainable living, so let’s get it out of the way. We need this planet to survive. As of right now, there are no other planets we could move to within a year if necessary. So we are dependent on the well-being of the earth. And not just us, our (future) children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the generations after them will be as well. By doing our part in helping to stabilize the earth we ensure safe and sustainable living conditions for our offspring.

2. It saves money

Think about this: most modern-day pollution is caused by hyper-consumerism. The demand for any kind of product is at an all-time high, meaning that the production and transportation of all these products have reached an all-time high as well. This is mainly because of the high number of single-use items that are being normalized in our society nowadays. By simply swapping as many single-use items as possible for reusable alternatives, you only have to buy said products every now and then instead of every week. It might not sound very significant to save $0.90 on cotton rounds when you swap them for reusable ones but when you add up all these small savings and multiply them with the lifetime of your reusable alternative, you will see it making much more impact than you initially thought.

3. It’s better for your fitness

Many unsustainable habits in our daily life are designed to make our life easier. They are implemented to help us preserve our energy and allow us easy access to basic needs like food and shelter. Our ancestors had to work the land or they would simply starve to death. We modern-day humans only have to click on a few things online and our food will be brought to our home. Many people struggle with a lack of exercise on a daily basis. Luckily, sustainable living can help you exercise more. By riding your bike to the grocery store, for example, you don’t contribute to pollution while getting groceries and you also get some exercise in the meantime.

4. You maximize water and energy efficiency

By living more sustainably, you focus on making the most out of your water and energy. By using them to their maximum efficiency, you significantly reduce the amount of energy you need. Think about sustainable options like insulating your home to reduce the energy needed for heating. Or harvesting rain to water your plants. Not only is maximizing water en energy efficiency better for the planet, but it also saves you money on your water and electricity bills.

5. You reduce waste

There are many big piles of garbage called landfills around the earth. These landfills take up precious space where nature could have grown. By reducing your waste you might not eliminate the problems surrounding landfills, but you don’t add to the problem either. If more and more people reduce their waste and landfills stop growing as quickly, the world can begin to fix this problem.

6. You get the maximum use out of your items

Living sustainably is all about using and reusing products until they are broken beyond repair. When done right, this means you get a lot of value for the money you spent on said product. Take a simple towel for example. You use it over and over again, but it will eventually its drying abilities will decline. This doesn’t mean your towel can’t serve you anymore. You can still use it as a cleaning rag. Even when it’s too filthy to wash after cleaning with it times and times again, it can still serve a purpose. You can use it to protect a surface while painting for example. In its lifetime, this single towel has serves 3 different purposes multiple times. If that’s not getting maximum use out of an item, I don’t know what is.

7. You feel better about yourself

If you’ve clicked on this article I can assume that you care (at least a little) about the environment. Since the environment is important to you, you will get a sense of accomplishment from doing things to preserve our environment. One of those things that will give you this sense of accomplishment is living sustainably. You can (and should!) feel proud of yourself for contributing to the solution to climate change, instead of the cause. So give yourself a pat on the back for living sustainably.

8. You connect with others who (want to) live sustainably

Because living sustainably is based on getting as many things locally as possible, you are more dependent on your community. Maybe you’ll meet someone that grows their own tomatoes and has some to spare for you. Or you might have some clothing that no longer works for you that you can give to someone in your community. And there are of course internet groups and forums you could join to exchange idea’s on how to live more sustainably. Even some of your friends might get inspired by your lifestyle and want to learn more about it. This can be a great way to connect with them even more.

9. You become less dependant on non-renewable sources

Imagine that natural gas will run out in the next month. Not just your gas, but all gas. The world will fall into chaos because we are so dependant on natural gas. It’s what we use to heat our homes for example. The only people that do not have to worry about warming their homes this coming winter are the people that are already living sustainably and heat their homes using alternative sources to natural gas.

10. You help prevent loss of biodiversity

Due to the high demand for products, more and more rainforests get destroyed. This means there is less space for all the plants and animals that used to live there. You might think ‘Why don’t they just move to the next forest over?’. Sadly, it’s not that simple. Wild animals have their own territory that they will defend from all other animals. It’s not in their nature to ‘just share’. That would be just as ridiculous as your neighbours claiming your house as their own because theirs got destroyed by fire. By living more sustainably you help decrease the demand for new products, which in turn decreases the need for the production of new products, which again leads to a decrease in space and materials needed for these products. By decreasing the demand, you also decrease the need to cut down valuable nature area’s.