Although the Zwinregio is only a very small part of the Netherlands, we, at NEW BABYLON 3, do care about sustainability for our future.

A lecture/debate will take place on Friday 8 November at the reception center of Golfclub Oostburg, starting at 7.30 p.m. Theme: A Sustainable West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.
Sustainability is not only a global issue but certainly also for the Zwin region and an important topic on the agenda of NEW BABYLON 3. That is why we have invited Stichting Duurzaam Groede (foundation for a sustainable Groede) to present a state of affairs regarding a study that they have conducted on this subject.
The Sustainable Groede Foundation asked three questions: How can agriculture and recreation be made more sustainable, how can we generate more sustainable energy and how can we better protect or develop our natural environment. With these questions, the foundation went to the Science Shop of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). They offer the possibility to research together with students on behalf of civil society organizations that have limited financial resources. Over the past few months, (mainly landscape architecture-) students from the WUR have been investigating what is currently happening in the field of sustainability in the agricultural and recreational sector on behalf of the Stichting Duurzaam Groede. In the coming months, they will investigate how these sectors can possibly work more sustainably in the future towards 2030 and 2050.

At the DUTCH DESIGN WEEK in Eindhoven (the Netherlands), which took place from 19-25 October 2019, a lot of attention was of course towards sustainability. I would like to share some of the interesting topics and designers here with you:

Alone you can make a difference. Together we can bring change. This embassy brings you into contact with industry, academia, governmental institutions, and designers. To learn from each other and show how we can make an impact together by designing for a more sustainable society.

Eileen Fisher - Waste No More
In 2009, EILEEN FISHER started a take-back program—part of a circular system designed to preserve the value of our clothes at every stage, in any condition. We’ve collected over 1.2 million garments since then, designating pieces that are beyond repair as raw material for Waste No More, an experimental design studio based in Irvington, NY. Led by Creative Director Sigi Ahl, the studio transforms damaged clothes into one-of-a-kind artworks, pillows, wall hangings and accessories using a custom felting technique that requires no water or dyes. It’s an ambitious experiment, rooted in a deep appreciation for the value of renewable materials—one that takes an artisanal approach to craft and technology.

What is ECOR?
ECOR is a composite material (an alloy) formed from cellulose fibres, pressure, water and heat. The raw panels can be made from residuals such as old paper, cardboard, coffee ground, hemp, cotton, paddy straw or any type of plant material.
100% bio-based, recycled, recyclable and non-toxic.
paper dresser by Ecor
paper dresser by Occony

Why go for ECOR?
Inspired by nature, ECOR is versatile and offers you an elegant and innovative way to harness the power of cellulose. This natural binder combined with our technology enables you to design and deliver unique furniture, interior or exhibition solutions.
ECOR empowers you to: Valorize cellulose-based residual streams, contribute to a healthier world without waste and support circular business models or initiatives.
residential cabinetry by Sustainable Living Innovations
residential cabinetry by Sustainable Living Innovations

ROBOTIKA, The NANNYBOT Joaquín Fargas (AR)
The Nannybot - Joaquín Fargas
ROBOTIKA / The Nannybot – Joaquín Fargas, Credit: Tom Mesic
Are we, human beings, able to guarantee the preservation of the human species? Are we facing the end of human civilization? Can we trust in AI to perpetuate humanity?
Robotika is a cyber nanny whose duty is to preserve the human race. Robotika challenges the limits of the human being concept. It is a robot vested with artificial intelligence that shall act as a “galactic ark,” looking for a suitable environment for human development.

A car tire consists of several layers and materials. You can granulate the rubber and process it into new products like rubber tiles. And why not recycle the polyester to make it the top shoe of a sneaker? In the end, tires are also the shoes of a car!

Natural dyeing – for example dyeing by microbes – uses natural colouring methods where no toxic substances are used or end up in the product

COMBconomy: de opvolger van de circulaire economie
De COMBconomy staat voor de gecombineerde economie waarin de huidige strategieën worden gecombineerd met mensgericht werken en duurzaamheid en waarin de cashflow de maatstaf voor succes is. De COMBconomy staat voor een maatschappelijke geïntegreerde organisatie waarin hubs, P2P, netwerken, burgers & partijen, eco-innovatie en community management samenkomen. Dit leidt tot een gedeelde en collectieve waardecreatie.

BIOMIMICRY institute
The Future of Innovation is Here: 8 Inventions from Nature’s Laboratory
the future of innovation
Innovation so good that the status quo doesn’t stand a fair chance is what the world needs right now, and today’s game changers have one thing in common: nature’s lab. Leaders like NASA, the US Naval Academy, Nike, and Bill Gates are paying attention. These are not some hoped-for miracle technologies. Proof of concept exist, give us bold answers to our greatest problems and show us new ways in which humanity could thrive. We just need to pay attention and connect the dots.

Innovation: Artificial Photosynthesis:
A bionic leaf that creates hydrogen fuel from sunlight
Problem solved: Clean our air + end fossil fuel addiction
Nature’s Solution: Leaves + Photosynthesis
Market Readiness: Lab/development
What if you could power the world with the air we breathe, sunshine and water? It’s possible.
The ingenuity behind this potential global energy breakthrough is the common leaf. By emulating its process of photosynthesis (a leaf’s way of converting sunshine, carbon dioxide, and water → oxygen and energy) we can generate our own clean, hydrogen fuel, just by splitting water using electricity from the sun. Read: this renewable fuel has no emissions. Zero. The byproduct, water, is so clean you could probably drink it out of your tailpipe.
If you think about it, that laptop on your desk, it’s powered by photosynthesis. Fossil fuels are the remains of plants and animals, all of which grew up with sunshine, and we burn those fossils for new energy, which means that everything we consume—from the apple in your hand to the Apple laptop on your desk—is actually a product of photosynthesis.

What if we can beat nature at its own game? Emulating the humble leaf means we could forgo gas stations and generate our own clean, hydrogen fuels straight from sunlight, air, and water. At the time of writing, artificial leaves are close to 10% efficiency compared to 1% efficiency of leaves in nature.

srtificial photosynthesis
Are hydrogen-fueled cars already approaching their breakthrough moment? Some would say that hydrogen has the potential to lead to energy security, improved air quality with zero emissions. Their greatest challenge today is lack of infrastructure and cost to make and transport. Government and global investment will be vital in scaling this potential climate solution. 8 innovations

desert beetle
Power couple: The Namibian fog-basking beetle and camel nostrils have helped inspire the Sahara Desert Project which has turned a barren plot of desert land into a green oasis | Beetle photograph above by Solvin Zankl Photography; illustration of the Jordan launch project by The Sahara Forest Project.
These were two symbiotic and proven in nature techniques were the quirky inspiration when creating the salt water-cooled greenhouses that will use the same mechanism of harnessing the difference in temperature between surface seawater and seawater from below the surface. They chose the least green places on the planet for The Sahara Forest Project: the pilot was in Qatar and the launch station in Jordan is the size of four football fields. While both lack access to fresh water, they harness two abundant resources: sunshine and saltwater—virtually all they needed to make this a success due to mimicking the camel and beetles’ adaptations.
At the time of writing, the precious bounty produced using solar power and saltwater in the desert from the greenhouse will help feed travellers making their way through Jordan. Camel nostrils and humble beetles have inspired new ways to feed the world in places facing desertification.

Innovation: Artificial trees on steroids
Problem Solved: Deep carbonization; removing dangerous pollution on a massive scale
Nature’s Solution: Trees
Commercial Readiness: Early Commercial
What if there was a way to do the work of 100,000 trees with just one?
There is a way, right now, to skim carbon dioxide straight from the air we breathe and reverse carbon pollution on a massive scale. Think emulating trees with freakish efficiency and less of a land footprint that can actually remove legacy emissions that have been lingering in the air we breathe that has been around since the industrial revolution. This proven and commercial engineered carbon dioxide removal path is called direct air capture, and although it was once pie-in-the-sky thinking, now it’s a viable and essential solution on the table.
Artificial trees on steroids
Above, trees have skimmed the air we breathe for carbon dioxide for millions of years with renewable solar power. Now engineers are looking to beat nature at its own game by emulating trees with “direct air capture” machines that mine the sky of carbon dioxide to avoid the risks linked to C02 levels that have reached their highest in 3 million years. These machines exist and are proven in the real world. Below: Climeworks’ commercial direct air capture machine in Switzerland repurposes carbon dioxide to help grow crops in greenhouses.

Above, trees have skimmed the air we breathe for carbon dioxide for millions of years with renewable solar power. Now engineers are looking to beat nature at its own game by emulating trees with “direct air capture” machines that mine the sky of carbon dioxide to avoid the risks linked to C02 levels that have reached their highest in 3 million years. These machines exist and are proven in the real world. Below: Climeworks’ commercial direct air capture machine in Switzerland repurposes carbon dioxide to help grow crops in greenhouses.
Katie Losey’s article for Biomimicry Institute

“We believe that while the possibilities for innovation are infinite, our planet’s resources are not.”
Fragile Earth
We are on a mission to invest in technology and businesses that will reverse climate change by mining the air for carbon dioxide and recycling once dangerous emissions into useful everyday products and valuable commodities.
While the possibilities for innovation are infinite, our planet’s resources are not.
Rethinking energy and repurposing carbon dioxide became our obsession when we grasped carbon mining has the potential to benefit all life on Earth. We know the resilience and brilliance of the natural world and are harnessing the power of human genius and cutting-edge technology to help save it. We want to catalyze a new energy era creating an economic and conservation breakthrough, in our lifetime.
We drive change by:
    01. Mining C02 emissions from industrial plants or the air we breathe and turning them into useful everyday products.
    02. Pursuing industrial-scale carbon-free power 24-hours a day.
    03. Boosting awareness and understanding of the greatest challenges facing humanity through powerful storytelling including film.

Brabant Delta delivers bioplastic from sludge
The bioplastic PHA breaks down under natural conditions within a year. It can be extracted from sugars or palm oil, but also from sludge as a leftover from sewage treatment. A pilot is running at the Brabantse Delta Water Board, together with other parties.

WHAT: What happens to our waste when it leaves our homes? This question led to a study into the possibilities of using bottom ash as a resource.
bottom ash Carissa ten Tije
WHY: Bottom ash is the non-combustible residue after household waste is burned in waste-to-energy-plants. In the Netherlands, one person’s household waste produces an average of 57,5 kg of bottom ash per year. Can this leftover be reused in useful quality products?
HOW: This extensive investigation into the value of bottom ash documented both current applications of the material and possible new uses. These include a terrazzo-like stone material and wood stain. Such applications show that value can be regained from such a grey and lifeless matter as bottom ash.

Marie Declerfayt Department: Food Non Food
What: ‘Botanical bodies’ investigates the possibility to use plants for the creation of human compatible organs. Vegetal and human tissues share microscopic similarities making blending the two conceivable.
Why: Scientific developments show the potential of vegetal matter to replace human organs. This project pushes these current developments to a speculative level, considering the implications it would have if we could replace our original organs with plant-based ones, becoming more and more hybrid with every transplant.
How: The project visualizes how the physical body could progressively merge with the vegetal world, for instance by replacing human bones by poplar wood. The overarching question being: What happens if we consider our body not as an independent set of organs, but as an organism constantly evolving toward symbiosis with plants?
Botanical Bodies
Photographs: Ronald Smits
“Slowly merging back into nature could be a nice exit for mankind”
Botanical Bodies

Unfit to Live
Dimitry Suzana Department: Man and Wellbeing
Unfit to Live
What: An immersive experience to explore the ethical debate around the end of life choice.
Why: None of us would choose death over life if pain and exhaustion didn’t make our existence unbearable. But those who feel unable to carry on living should be offered an escape, believes Dimitry Suzana, who has seen a family member with ALS suffer under current legislation.
How: Imagine someone stuck in a box. Imagine watching someone who has the power to let them out ignore their wish. If it’s cruel not to let someone out of a box, why deny someone trapped in their body a way out? With this clear parallel, Dimitry puts the debate in a new context.

“What solution do we offer those rightfully feeling unfit to go on living?”
Eva Jack Department: Social Design
Parallel Lives
What: A reworked Natural History Museum display, not for stuffed animals but for humans, questioning our anthropocentric, dominant take on nature.
Why: Considering the increasingly precarious state of nature as a consequence of human domination, Eva Jack explores a new perspective: one that does not place mankind as superior, but instead acknowledges interspecies entanglement and dependency.
How: She treats museum visitors to the animal’s point of view – inside the diorama. They are faced with a video that dissects and reworks the conventions of a museum setup. Reinterpreting familiar narratives, which are often biased and based on politics, is the first step towards a more equal and meaningful relationship with ‘other’ animals.
“We need to get away from the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality”
Parallel Lives

Bich Tran

Department: Food Non Food
Beyond the Human Surface

What: A platform featuring interviews, information and graphics to understand the possible consequences of human enhancement through genetic engineering.

Why: Scientists are making incredible breakthroughs in gene editing. They’ve already programmed bacteria to glow in the dark. This kind of biotechnology could have a tremendous impact on our future and it is important to have an informed conversation about its advantages and disadvantages.

How: Bich Tran interviewed experts and artists to see what CRISPR gene editing could mean to us, biologically and culturally. He focused on how skin cells could be programmed to temporarily transform when triggered by light. Will we be able to grow scales or change our skin colour? What else?

Femke Reijerman
Photographs: Femke Rijerman

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