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23Jun

Heroes of Antarctica

Heroic Age of Antarctica Exploration (late 19th-early 20th) is marked by famous expedition and leaders; characterized by great triumphs and tragedies stand out as exciting example of heroic endurance against incredible hardship. During this period, 17 major European and American expeditions took place following on from European conquests of this time. Antarctica represented a way to prove nations’ power by land and scientific exploration.

Explorers of this era were more than scientists and sailors, but also remembered as poets, photographs, artists and most of all dreamers. Each expedition was a feat of endurance and limits testing, these explorers made it before big advances in transport and communication technologies that had revolutionized the work of exploration. Making them more that simple scientists or sailors but real heroes of their nations.Shackleton8_Hurley.jpg.CROP.original-original

These explorers were seen as true adventurers; leaving their homeland on a ship for years to accomplish one mission. Facing isolation, wait, extreme cold in Antarctica without forgetting that it was more than 100 years ago and means were not the same. Then, these sailors had to explore their imagination and creativity in writings and photography making them even more inspiring figures.

And for everyone thinking that time of exploration is over, is mistaking. In January 2018, Wilco van Rooijen and Edwin ter Velde hope to reach the South Pole. The Clean2Antarctica’s expedition; Taking the challenge to realize the cleanest expedition ever; they will cross Antarctica on board of a self-designed and partly made out of waste plastic vehicle powered by solar energy!

The way in which it will be done matter, once again, as much as what will be done and why.

Are they the heroes of the 21st Century for Antarctica exploration’s history? This time, this is not for their nation that they will live this adventure but for the world and for next generations! They will carry with them a message for the planet: prove that clean energy and zero waste are possible. Like explorers of the previous century, they will make an expedition with technologies that are not totally established yet: they will have to show endurance and mental strength to realize this journey. Mixing up technique´s exploit and willingness to inspire the world.Antarctica’s exploration

If they make it, it would be a proof that fossil energy era is over and that wastes are much more valuable that we think. No need to pollute air, lands, ocean anymore: progress is still possible thanks to sustainable solutions!

What if recycled and clean powered vehicle can become the vehicles of tomorrow whether it is for expeditions or more common use?

On top of that, Antarctica represents the perfect place to send such a message of hope to the world today. This continent bigger than Europe is also the land with no nation and no population.  With 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of world’s freshwater its conservation is primordial for the planet. That’s why it is now protected by international treaty. Impacts of climate change on the continent (due to global use of fossil energies among others) are a disaster for its wildlife and for the world; its melt would be enough to raise world-sea level by more than 60 meters!

Tracing the history of Antarctica’s exploration illustrates how impressive it is to see how the world evolved within only a century! Technology incredibly evolved and geopolitics’ stakes are totally different now. Climate change is threatening this continent that was barely known 100 years ago. Hopefully, explorers of the modern time are here to go beyond the limits of the last century.

09Jun

“Buy a phone, change the world”

I also realized how much waste is produced with all these mobile phones. As they are one of the world’s most widely used devices, their disposal contributes to tons of e-waste each year. The consequences on the environment and populations are devastating. Most of the time, our e-waste ends up in developing countries. All the minerals present in the phone spoil soils, water, air… with consequences on populations’ environment and health. As a result more minerals ,need be extracted to build new products; which means more mines and more environmental damage and exploitation of workers… an infinite circle.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 15.47.24

In my research for a new phone…again… I discovered the Fairphone. This innovative young brand created by a Dutch company, in Amsterdam; is the first creator of an ethical phone. Fairphone already sold more than 100,000 smartphones in Europe, with that they started a new hope that their innovations can be a start for fair electronic shopping.

But what is an ethical phone like? It’s nothing more than an ordinary smartphone working on an Android system; you can call, send text, emails, take photograph, download apps… However, what differentiates this phone from others is its social responsibility, transparency, durability, recycling values at the core of the company’s work.

To reduce the impact of waste to a maximum, Fairphone has a circular view on the production of the phone. That means in the stage of design, it think of how to reuse and recycle parts of other mobile phones. As all minerals can be extracted and reused, this way they use the older phones as materials for the new ones.

In addition they raise awareness and participate in programs to reduce e-waste. And of course they are working towards the goal of using recycled materials for their future products.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 14.21.15

Environmental and social costs of smartphones production are huge; from mining to manufacturing, transportation and wastes; all this process includes pollution and social issues (workers safety, rights…). Fairphone is pushing the limits by proving that it can be done differently and more responsibly; I hope it can give the example for others brands. Thanks to Fairphone’s transparency you know what every cents you spend are for… For example, for each Fairphone produced; 5$ are invested in a Worker Welfare Fund to enhance safety and good development of workers. You know also that they try to extract minerals (gold, tantalum, tungsten…) in conflict-free areas and are involved with NGO to tackle these problems. Indeed, most of minerals present in your phone are from Congo, an area touched by armed conflicts…Armed groups revenue are basically from minerals.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 15.49.34
On top of that, the Fairphone is modular; changing a part of your phone is like playing with lego. If a part of your phone is broken you can easily order a new piece and replace it. Fairphone plans also to upgrade its elements, for example, if one day they commercialize a better camera or battery you just have to order this part and don’t have to buy a new phone for better performances. It is created with the intention of durability and not only selling you a product. This is an innovative idea.

Good news is that other brands are already following Fairphone´s example. Google is developing its modular phone: Ara, built to last. As Legos, you can build your own personal phone. This phone is still in development but it can be promising if these kinds of innovations became the new normal in electronic market.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 16.02.01

But then, what justify the price of a smart phones? Nice design? Cool brand? A big screen?.. There is no other company that is paying for the environmental damage that they cause. The last version of the Fairphone can compete easily with smartphone of this price range in term of performances. So the only justification that I see is that those other brands are just looking for more profit by so-called innovations in performances, design but nothing concerning the production process. Can we accept that?

Fairphone’s goal is not only to commercialize a new phone.“Start a movement” and “Join the community” are its motto. So what movement are we talking about? Which community?

A part of the population is aware of all these sustainable issues and cannot just accept it. This community believes of our power as simple consumer. The way we consume can also be a way to express ourselves by supporting positive initiatives and boycotting others. And obviously, it has power, if more and more people behave in this way, brands won’t have other choice to change their behaviors and strategies.

Being part of this “community” for me is a way to show I disapprove the behavior of ordinary brands… I want to be part of the people who don’t follow new trends because it’s cool but care about the way they are made and is willing to make things change…

Even though it is not the cheapest, I decided to join the movement and buy one. I believe in the positive changes that responsible purchase can have. Supporting this initiative meant 3 months with no phone. As a start-up who chose to not commercialize its phones in a normal circuit. They produce their phone according to orders and only through internet. Victim of it success, there was a 3 month-delay when I ordered it… But thanks to Fairphone, during these 3 months I realized how much we were connected to our phones but also how easy and liberating it was to live without being connected all the time…

Finally, when you decide to buy your Fairphone don’t forget to recycle your last phone, you can even earn money from it!

17Mar

Comfortably ignorant

Since a few months I have passed my 40’s. I become more and more aware that a lot has changed in those years that I have enjoyed on this planet. More than I could imagine….It brings the question to mind what in the coming 40 years, more will change. What are the game changers and what will be solutions to the big problems that the last decades this so called time of prosperity have brought.

To show you how times have changed and at the same time unravelled the mist of so-called prosperity I take you to my childhood. In my street where I grew up, in Amsterdam in the nineties there was a bakery, a milkman with fresh cheese. A tobacco shop, a grocery store with great fruit and vegetables, and a store that we called ‘’Jantje van alles’’. All these shops had everything that a normal household needed. And these products were packaged for you in paper bags.

With the coming of the supermarkets, these shops disappeared and the immersive introduction of plastic became a reality. And without exaggerating plastic waste became one of the most critical environmental issues in the world. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is described as a 7th continent  and is a product of our way of living. It is made out of plastic and has direct impact on our ecosystem, livelihood and food chain.

Plastic is still an easy and cheap material to produce for industries and with the coming of 3D printers’, plastic has a bright new future. Knowing that only 10% of plastic is recycled, it’s time to raise the alarm and change our way of production and consumption.

A few years ago I was not so much aware of the impact of these changes. The realisation of fact that all you buy is packaged in plastic. Makes you aware of your role as consumer. With the effect that I can’t do any shopping without having guilty feelings.

Luckily more and more people has the same guilty feelings and are trying to have a more responsible behaviour and reduce considerably their wastes. This is just about new habits to adopt and more reflection when you are doing your groceries or throwing your garbage away.Groenteman

It started with bringing your own bag to the store, and re-used the ones you had. Separate the plastic waste, from the rest of the garbage. But that is not enough. A new mentality is needed, to avoid plastic packaging. By using paper bags and bringing your own sacks again. And even then you can’t avoid paradoxical situations: “should I choose the organic cucumber in plastic packaging” or “the non-organic one without packaging”. When you want to have a responsible behaviour, this kind of decisions matters: you have to choose between supporting this “plastic mania” or eating these pesticides poisoning our lands.

Some still see a positive side to plastics as an opportunity for sustainable development. It is actually a cheap material that we can reuse and reuse again through recycling. Some entrepreneur and communities are inspired to change from a linear to a circular relationship with plastic. This is always motivating to see people thinking out of the box and looking for alternatives solutions for the good of our planet.

An inspiring story is that of Wilco and Edwin from Clean 2 Antarctica, they are convinced we can have a zero waste community. And to prove that they will go on expedition to the South Pole in a vehicle entirely built from recycled plastics and powered by solar energy. This is a way to demonstrate that “Zero Waste” and “Zero emissions” are possible… Imagine the relief of clean air and clean oceans! It is not only their opinion but also that of the younger generation. That is why children in this project to collect plastic waste and shape them through 3D printing in a message to the world. This project is a message of hope showing the promises of plastic recycling and clean technology to live in a cleaner planet. It is just one of many great projects only here in the Netherlands. Possibilities are infinite with recycling and reusing. Each time that you are closing your garbage you can make sure that nothing belong to the recycle bin and ask yourself in which way you could reuse these wastes. You will awake your creative spirit and reduce your environmental impact. Give to your wastes a happy ending, a second life, much more brighter than ending in one bird’s stomach.everything1-1200x686

 

And although older generations and mine will have to a make a major change in their behaviour, the hopeful finding is that when I can’t separate my garbage I feel awkward. As doing something really wrong. That is in my point of view the confirmation that humans a custom animals. And with a little effort we can change the beautiful world around us.

More info on great plastic projects in the Netherlands:

WASTED Laboratory: a neighborhood Laboratory for Plastic Waste Upcycling in Amsterdam Noord

PLASTIC: Promises of a Home-made Future; explores the relation between plastic and the 3D printing market

Precious Plastic: built machines able to build new objects thanks to recycled plastic

 

 

18Feb

The future of power

Today, we celebrate “Battery Day”. Why celebrating batteries? Actually, when you think about it, it makes sense. Take this day to imagine your life with no batteries for a second…You are feeling low, aren’t you? Indeed, it would mean no cars, phones, laptops, cameras, remote controls and the list goes on and on. Plugging in our devices to recharge is now part of most people daily routine. So, we might take it for granted but batteries are everywhere, they are now irreplaceable in our present and future. We can use this day to appreciate all that battery allows us to do and to think of recycling all those dead batteries that you leave in this old drawer.

solar-power-germany

As we know that fossil fuel’s era comes to its end, a whole new bright future is building up. A world where we hope that coal burning stoves and nuclear plants will soon be nothing more than a memory. A world where those smokestacks on our roofs, will not embody our emissions anymore; but just an architectural souvenir of these time. We can already perceive this change, through latest batteries’ evolutions. Tesla’s innovations such as power up cars and houses (Powerwall battery) reduce our direct emissions to zero by cutting exhaust pipes and equipped our roofs with solar panels. Clean fuels are on their way to build the future of our electric network! And this shift stands on the ability to store energy; in short, on batteries!

tesla

Besides, as adventurous movie producers, the battery question is omnipresent especially in some conditions where plugging in batteries as we do home is not an option. Imagine how crucial this question can be, while recording some footage in the middle of Himalaya. All our equipment (lights, cameras…) requires batteries. That’s why we have to think of the best way to manActiveonage it, as keeping our impact to the environment at a minimum. We own solar panel chargers for example so that there is no need to carry a bunch of batteries. In this energetic transition era, in which energy storage is at its core; more and more solutions appear to us; such as Activeon Solar X, this new solar-powered action camera taking 70% of its charge from the sun in just 30 minutes.

By the way, you should take a look at our whole new Kickstarter campaign on www.climbeverestvr.com  that will take you to the summit of Mount Everest through a virtual reality experience. This experience will immerge you into this expedition; experiencing beautiful landscapes, extreme weather conditions…You have the opportunity to share this experience with real adventurers and all you have to do is to recharge the battery of your smartphone or virtual reality gear and sit comfortably!P1010611

 

04Feb

The early risers

The feeling when you get up early to go for a run, do some yoga or meditation let’s you feel like you rise above the world. You just dragged yourself out of your comfy bed to commit to something. And when you accomplish what you targeted yourself to do. Oh boy, this feeling leads to a fantastic motivation for the rest of the day. (Especially when it is combined with an epic sunrise)Sweden

Famous athletes and successful people also cherish their early morning routines. They create their own ritual that motivates and inspires them. Tony Robbins has an “hour of power”, which includes motivational sayings and visualization. Steve Jobs always asked himself if he would be happy with his planned day if it was his last day on earth. Motivational speaker Eric Thomas wakes up every morning at 3AM.

He says: “Sleep is the new broke. If u only have 24 hours in a day, your success is depend upon how you spend the 24.”

It’s nothing new that the early risers have big advantages, to the sleepy colleagues. It is easier to focus when the world outside is to tired to interrupt you; there is no chaos and noise. Your creativity is highest after waking; the preferential cortex is most active. All your ideas are cleaner as the mind hasn’t yet been troubled with daily issues. So it’s simple to connect to the flow of creativity.Sunrise africa

When you rise with the sun it gives you more balance in the body. When you think of it, its logical. You basically copy the body’s natural rhythm, which leads to peace and a balanced life.
There is something magical about the hours before dawn. Waking up early, gives you time for yourself or to catch up on things you are behind on, it makes you calmer for the rest of the day. You have a head start on the rest of the world.

I believe that “willing” is the key. It will be hard to wake up in the beginning. You always have that feeling you did not sleep enough. But once you train yourself in it, just by five minutes at the time, everybody can do this. Little steps, lead to bigger steps in the future. If you want to become an early riser you will be overflowing with joy. You may inspire others, so create your suitable ritual that inspire and motivate you.
What would you do with the extra hours each day?

07Jan

Welcome 2016

blog pic 2

If I look back and reflect on 2015, it has been a year filled with peaceful mountain peaks and beautiful views. Collecting memories and feelings of the sun on my face and the wind in my back. Wonderful days of quiet sunrises and unique sunsets… But this year has also seen unreliable storms, and experiences that left a feeling of uncertainty and disbelief. Happenings, that left me without a view and no sunshine in sight. On those days, I have to find my inner power and keep believing in the bigger positive picture.

One specific individual reminds me of that inner power, Public Protector; Thulisile Madonsela. When she walks into a room and begins speaking, people sit up and listen. Her mission is to establish a trust in South Africa’s young and fragile democracy. She is a big inspirational example and we believe she can inspire many people. Last two years we have made big steps in getting access to her and capturing her amazing story. Also, this year we will keep going, keep believing in realizing a captivating story, in telling her unique part of history in a fight against corruption and perseverance. A fight not for someone’s own well being, but that of the society.

amazone green

2015 also had experiences that made me happy and hopeful for a better future, like the climate talks in Paris. For years people have demonstrated to make our voice heard, our concerns, of how we manage this planet. In Paris we didn’t win the war, but you can say we won a battle. There seems a momentum and governments seem to take serious steps to move away from oil, gas and coal. Meanwhile, energy from clean, renewable sources will grow. We know the agreement isn’t perfect – and it’s not, but over the past year, we saw a truly unprecedented show of support for a strong agreement. Friends like you who cared so much about the future to take action during the climate march. So take a moment to reflect on what you helped accomplish. It’s not every day you can say you were a part of history in the making. Be proud of that. Be very, very proud.

A mayor step is the fact that an organization, like Urgenda, and some international affiliates have won a court case against the Dutch government. And now the government need to take serious action to avoid the impact of climate change. Again an example we could not think a few years ago.
At the same time entrepreneurs and many designers in the Netherlands are taking up the challenge and renew our economy into a circular one. The ambition is to become a worldwide circular hotspot. Currently, there is happening so much in the development that makes us very proud. With the Netherlands as circular hotspot, we are going to inspire and motivate the world.

birds or ghosts

The amazing thing about reflecting is there are no rules. A new year is the symbolic starting point for new possibilities and the way to achieve these; is by doing, by making a change every day. Making a positive change NOW, sets the tone for the beautiful adventures in the year ahead. Erase all negativity and bring happiness and lessons we’ve picked up along the way. The good and the bad and learn from our experience. After we have learned we are able to grow, to give love, to acknowledge and to be thankful.

We are going to set sail on creative and unique adventures, and share this in as much as possible ways with you!

Wishing you all an enlightening, happy and healthy new year!

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