Seepje

Seepje is 100% natural and fair trade detergent from Nepal. They use the Sapindus mukorossi-fruit super peel which gives a natural form of soap in contact with water.

Seepje’s missions is to make the world cleaner and more beautiful! Seepje is a social enterprise. When you wash your clothes with Seepje they take of the conservation of nature in Nepal. They also there improve the working and living conditions. The company works together with Siza, a organization which provides work to people with mental and/or physical disabilities. The people who work there, called the “waskanjers” or “washing heroes” have an important role in the production of Seepje.

I interviewed Jasper, one of the co-founders about how the idea for Seepje was born, what they are doing and asked him about his vision on sustainability.

Visit their website: www.seepje.nl 

NOTE: The audio in this video is not perfect. I’m still learning every day and this won’t happen again.]

RotterZwam

RotterZwam is an initiative based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They collect coffee waste locally and grown oyster mushrooms on it. The mushrooms are then sold to local restaurants etc. The mushrooms are a delicatesse and can be used in pasta, soup and bitterballen.
The organization was founded three years ago by Mark & Siemen, also known as urban farmers. Mark had 6 years experience in green business but saw that this was not enough and wanted to change things radically.

Coffee is after oil the most traded commodity in the world and RotterZwam’s aim is to go from waste-reduction to food-production. Every week they collect 1000 to 1500 kilo of coffee waste, this is not even 1% of the total amount of the city’s waste. It takes about three weeks to grow mushrooms and from every bag they can harvest mushrooms three times.

RotterZwam is based in Tropicana. This used to be an iconic swimming pool and had been abandoned for a few years. Mark and some other guys decided it was time to give the swimming pool a new purpose and founded BlueCity. Now the location is home to various sustainable companies.

In this interview Mark Slegers tells about the organization, their goals and the why. Melissa van der Beek explains how the process works.

Day 3: Growing mushrooms in Rotterdam and a visit in Brabant

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Day 3

I left my host Iris in Rotterdam and drove to RotterZwam. RotterZwam collects coffee loom locally in Rotterdam. The loom they put in sacks and add mushroom seeds to it. In a process of a few days Oyster mushrooms start to grow. These mushrooms have a meat-like structure and are sold to restaurants. In co-operation with a local bakery they even make bitterballen from it, which is a Dutch delicatesse. Founder Mark Slegers started this company after he worked for around 6 years in the green business. He saw what he was doing wasn’t enough and things have to change radically to make improvements towards a greener society. RotterZwam was founded 3 years ago. The location is as inspirational as the company itself, it houses at the Tropicana, a former swimming pool. This location had been abandoned for a few years and Mark together with some other people thought it was time for a new destination. The founded Blue City where numerus sustainable and social companies have their office.

Just visited Rotterzwam and now working on my latest video at Blue City Rotterdam.

Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 17. März 2016

Yesterday I visited Rotterzwam. In this cooled area you see bags filled with coffee residue, they collect this residue…

Posted by Plug Me In on Freitag, 18. März 2016

 

Mierlo

My pluggers this day where Theo and Iet in Mierlo, a tiny village in Brabant. From Rotterdam it was a 140km drive. My navigation system is set to ‘shortest route’ to avoid highways. Driving highways with an electric car effects the range negatively. Taken shorter routes means more time and it took me around 3 hours to get to Mierlo. Sometimes the navigation system sends you through tiny villages and forests. It happened that the system send me through a way which was closed off. I had to make a turnaround, it was no big deal but it could have happened that the destination was not within reach anymore. Which isn’t a bug problem in Holland with public chargers everywhere but in other countries this can be a problem.

Theo en Iet where very nice people. They are friends of the wife of my father and I had met them once before. They live in a big house with an even bigger garden. The roof is filled with solar panels. We had some talks about their dreams. Theo is retired and Iet is retiring in a few weeks. Then they want to travel the world. In December they are going to Australia. In a four wheel drive they are going to explore the Outback. Very inspirational! Iet showed off with her excellent cooking skills and I had my own private bathroom and toilet. It’s really great how the locations I stay are completely different from day to day.

Theo en Iet are both (almost) retired and still have the wildest dreams. At the end of this year they are going to travel in a four wheel drive through the Australian Outback.

Posted by Plug Me In on Samstag, 19. März 2016

Video Update

See my adventures of this day in the latest video-update.

Mysteryland: a great example for sustainability in festivals

Last Sunday I volunteered for the Greenteam at Mysteryland. The world’s longest-running dance festival, this year the 22nd edition, took place at the former Floriade terrain in the Haarlemmermeer. While the first two editions of the festival where held during 2 days, this was the first time since 1994 that Mysteryland was a weekend festival. Party-promoter ID&T had a long dream of returning the weekend concept and this year they finally managed to do so and even offer visitors the possibility to camp at the holy grounds!

For me this was the 12th time I visited the festival. The first time, in 2002, I was just a 14-year-old kid and not allowed to enter the festival-site so I had to climb over the fences to enjoy the spectacle. Now, 14 years later I joined the Greenteam and could witness the festival legally backstage. And what I saw was a great example for sustainability in the event industry.

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The Mysteryland Greenteam

In the morning we gathered backstage at the campsite. We received clothing and got professional make-up applied so we all looked like happy little green bees. Our first task was to clean-up the camping area. 5000 visitors from all over the world stayed here for 3 days to enjoy the festival in all its glory. You would expect a big mess after 3 days of madness but (most) of the visitors left zero to none garbage. To be honest I was surprised about this, having visited many weekend festivals where most visitors left almost everything behind. Maybe it’s because Mysteryland takes a lot effort to leave no footprint and informing their attendees about the impact a festivals makes on the environment. Separated bins are provided throughout the campsite and garbage bags are handed out to everyone.

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Garbage bins at the campsite

After having cleaned the most part of the campsite and helping people pack their tents, we moved to the festival area. The reactions of the visitors when seeing the Greenteam where very positive. Many people took the effort to throw their plastic beer glasses in the garbage bags carried by the Greenteam members instead of throwing it on the ground. Also visitors asked me questions about what we are doing, where the garbage is being taken and how they can sign-up as a volunteer.
In front of the mainstage I couldn’t resist dancing to the sounds of Deep Dish while picking up the garbage, which put a smile on many of the visitors faces who even wanted to take selfies with me. Some experience!

Ik heb corvee op Mysteryland #lekkerprikken #Greenteam #ml15

A post shared by Wiebe Wakker / Plug Me In (@plugmeintravel) on

After walking some rounds on the terrain we returned to the campsite and wrapped things up. At 6pm we finished our work and got treated with some cold beers left by the visitors, really recycling to the max 😉

Then I had the whole day left to discover the festival and enjoy the music. What makes Mysteryland special is that they really try to create another world with place for theater, acts and my favorite part: the magic forrest. A little forrest which has been decorated with crazy creative things which can’t be really explained but have to be discovered.

What I like about Mysteryland is that they see recycling as a basis part of their sustainability plan, besides that they find it important to go further and pay attention to developing talents and local communities.
At the festival many cool sustainable projects can be discovered and I made a list of the ones I encountered:

Het Gekke Groente Museum (The Crazy Vegetable Museum)

A lot of craziness is going on at the Gekke Groente Museum #ml15 #mlnl

A post shared by Mysteryland (@mysteryland_official) on

A museum dedicated to weird and crazy shaped vegetables.

KartentIMG_6148

A crazy and very cool idea: a tent made completely out of cardboard. Kartent knows that every year 1 out of 4 visitors leave their tents behind so they came with a completely recyclable solution. After the festival the tent can go straight to the recycling of the paper-industry. Not only is this idea very refreshing but it looks totally cool, especially when you can decorate it with your own creative ideas!

Coca Cola
The famous drink understands how important it is to create a sustainable brand and Mysteryland is the right place to show this to their consumers. They created some activities where visitors could play games from recycled materials.

Waterbar
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A great initiative by Mysteryland: the waterbar. In exchange for 2 tokens you receive a water-bag which can be refilled for free at all the waterbars placed throughout the festival. The water-bag is small and can easily be attached to your jeans. The waterbars have been at Mysteryland for already 4 years and because of its succes the City of Amsterdam even decided to make it mandatory for all events taken place in their city to provide free water to visitors.

Now back to the festival. Mysteryland is very diverse as it comes to music styles and artists and it’s a luxury problem to make the right decision. First I watched Dillon Francis play a diverse set at the mainstage and then I went to Q-dance. The stage of Q-dance is the eyecatcher of the festival and this year a huge monkey was blasting CO2 out of it’s nose while loud hardstyle played through the speakers. Wildstylez was playing and I heard him play some great new tracks.
The northern part of the festival has some small islands with crazy stages like Milkshake, the Bollywood Bar and Vieze Poezendek (dirty pussydeck, go see yourself).
At the end of the day everyone went to the mainstage to see Martin Garrix play. The youngster started here 4 years ago and this year he had the honour to close down the festival accompanied by an epic end-show.

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The Q-dance stage at Mysteryland. (Source: ML Facebook)

I had a great day at Mysteryland. It was interesting to see whats going on behind the scenes and I felt proud to be part of the Greenteam and helping a bit to reduce the festival’s footprint.
I am impressed by Mysteryland’s Festival Soul: to create a positive ecological impact and help for a better future. What I like about this is that they don’t say “we are festival X, we organize a festival and to be sustainable we support a good cause” but it’s really in their DNA to be sustainable and carry this message out. I saw that Mysteryland’s visitors are conscious of this message by the way they tried to keep the camping and festival clean. The festivals sustainable efforts have not been unnoticed and Julie’s Bicyle, a non-profit organization that is putting effort for a sustainable creative industry, has awarded the festival with the Industry Green Certificate.

Mysteryland is a great example for festivals around and I hope to visit many more festivals alike during my trip.

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Even with all these CO2-guns Mysteryland managed to receive a certificate for reducing C02 emissions. (Source: ML Facebook)

10 sustainable hotels worth staying at

During the journey I will focus on staying at sustainable locations. I’ve been searching the internet and made a list of 10 locations worth staying at. Locations who are up front on sustainability, deserted places with a new purpose, hotels build from recycled materials and many more cool places on this list.

 

1. DasParkHotel, Germany & Austria

The Daspark Hotel offers rooms in old sewer pipes. If you wouldn’t have seen the picture you might have some nasty thoughts about this location but from the looks its more cosy then an average hotel room. Each room has room for 2 persons and offers light and electricity. The toilets are shared in a building next to the rooms. All other amenities can be found in the public space.

The hotel has 2 locations; one in Germany and the other one in Austria. Visitors can pay whatever they find its worth, called the “pay-as-you-wish” system. To book a room you can visit their website, select the date of arrival and you will receive a personal code to unlock the door. The code changes everytime so you don’t need to worry about leaving your stuff in the room.

The Daspark Hotel is a great example of using used materials and public space. Because of the materials used it doesn’t need much maintenance.

 

2. Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica

hotel-costa-verde

This location is plane crazy! In Costa Rica they managed to make an hotel from an retired Boeing 727. Previously taken passengers from Avancia Airlines all over the world, now it can be enjoyed by 4 people in 2 luxurious suites. At the height of 15 meters it has jaw-dropping views that make you feel like flying. The planes interior is local Costa Rican teak panelling from tail to nose. For more information visit the Hotel Costa Verde website.

 

3. Tree Tents, Germany

tree-tentsProbably the most romantic location on this list. German organizer Hochselgarten Hoelschlucht offers nightstay in a 2 persons tent hanging on a thick branch from a free standing tree, overlooking the local mountains. Ascending and descending is only possible with the help of a rope.

 

4. No Man’s Fort, UK

No Man's Land Fort

Another great example of upcycling non-used property to a new purpose. The No Man’s Land fort is located 2.2 kilometers off the coast of the Island of Wright and was builded in 1880. Previously used to protect Portsmouth from pirates, now high-paying guests can enjoy an indoor swimming pool, a private nightclub and challenge each other in a laser-battle. Guests arrive in style on one of the two helipads. Bookings can be made through the Amazing Venues website.

 

5. The Bird’s Nest, Sweden

The Birds Nest

The Bird’s Nest in Sweden is built on the contrasts between the outside and inside. The treeroom’s exterior is nothing but a gigantic bird’s nest. It gives a camouflage so you quickly disappear and become part of the surroundings.

The nest is owned by Treehotel which has more unique architectural locations like the UFO.

 

6. URBN Hotel, Shanghai

URBN Hotel

URBN Hotel Shanghai was the first carbon neutral hotel in China and has received many awards because of their eco-friendly character. The boutique hotel is a renovated warehouse and completely made of recycled and local materials. By renovating an existing structure, focusing on using recycled and locally sourced materials such as reclaimed hardwoods and old Shanghai bricks, implementing eco-friendly solutions like passive solar shades and a water-based air conditioning system, URBN Hotel Shanghai is one of the first examples of how to create a more ecological hotel establishment.

 

7. Hilton Stockholm Slussen, Sweden

Hilton Slussen

A more traditional kind of hotel in this list, the Hilton Hotel Slussen in Sweden. The employees receive a training about sustainability and every year their knowledge gets updated. Since 1996 they are recycling and disposing their waste and from 2010 their landfill waste dropped with 90%.

Fun fact: because of 60.000 bees on the roof of the hotel, they can produce their own honey which guests can enjoy at the breakfast!

 

8. Whitepod, Switzerland

White Pod Hotel

The Whitepod eco resort located in the village of Les Cerniers in the Swiss Alps offers a private ski resort, mountain chalets and 15 geodesic-dome pods that offer low impact accommodations. By minimizing the daily water and electricity usage, reducing the waste of products and stimulating renewable reserves, the white pods have almost no impact on nature. Guests tour the resort by skis, snowboards, dog sleds or snowshoes in the winter and relax in the luxurious and efficient Whitepod domes. The Swiss adventure resort won the World Prize for Sustainable Tourism in 2005.

 

9. Campi ya Kanzi, Kenya

Campi ya Kanzi

Get up close and personal with Africa’s “big five” mammals (Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhinoceros) and support the native Maasai community at Campi ya Kanzia, luxurious safari camp in southern Kenya. The camp and its 400 square miles are owned by the Maasai people, who work with the camp’s Italian hosts to preserve the local wildlife and provide a personalized and sustainable experience for visitors.

The camp’s six thatched-roof tented cottages were constructed of local materials without cutting down any trees. Electricity and hot water are generated by solar power, and waste is composted or recycled. The menu includes organic eggs, milk and vegetables, and all meals are cooked with eco-friendly charcoal.

 

10. Binna Burra Mountain Lodge and Campsite, Australia

Binna-Burra-Mountain-Lodge

Last but not least, a unique location on my final destination: Australia. Deep within the subtropical rain forest of Queensland’s Lamington National Park is the Binna Burra Mountain Lodge and Campsite, an ecolodge where guests can enjoy hiking, bird watching, abseiling and numerous environmental education programs. Accommodation options include safari-style canvas tents or a more luxurious room in the main lodge. Binna Burra was founded in 1933 on land that had been cleared and farmed; since then, the lodge has restored the land to its original rain forest state and encouraged the growth of native plant species. Recycling, composting, low-flow water fixtures and the use of energy-efficient lighting are just a few of the lodge’s environmental initiatives. Binna Burra makes regular contributions to research projects within the national park as well as to other environmental organizations.

 

11. Faralda Crane Hotel, Netherlands

Faralda Crane Hotel

I was supposed to make a list of 10 hotels but a friend tipped me on the Faralda Crane Hotel and this had to be in the list. This crane has been build in the 50’s and went out of use in 1984. The crane has been standing there for 25 years before they decided to demolish it because of possible danger of collapsing. A local entrepreneur heard about this and decided to buy and renovate it into a hotel.

The hotel has 3 luxurious suites at 50 meters above the ground. At the top of the crane is a jacuzzi overlooking Amsterdam and there is even a possibility to bungeejump off the crane!