Eco Barge: A Floating, Self-Sustaining Greenhouse

This green boat from Serbia teaches people the advantages of an ecological and sustainable way of life.

Designed by the architecture and yacht design company Salt & Water, the Eco Barge is a role model project to represent several green ways to save energy.  Anchored in a small marina in Belgrade, Serbia, it produces its own electricity via two solar panels on the terrace and four windmills on the roof. The energy is being used to provide lighting and power to the small technical room set inside.

The solar panels are being placed on the terrace so that the panels can always be directed towards the sun. Moreover, since the barge is intended to be open to the public and has an educational purpose, visitors can easily see how solar technology actually works.

This barge was designed as a place where citizens of Belgrade could get acquainted with vertical gardens, special kinds of irrigation systems and alternative ways of growing organic food in urban areas with usually limited space. This project is also designed as a venue for various educational workshops, where people can learn everything first-hand.

Further information: saltandwater.rs

Uroboro: Domestic Vermicomposter

This vermicomposting system by Portugese designer Marco Balsinha is pragmatic and aesthetic.

Uroboro is a domestic vermicompostor that processes household waste inside the home. The project was developed in order to tackle environmental sustainability issues by transforming biodegradable urban waste into useful matter for floriculture.

The project’s design was inspired by the typology of trees and it uses natural plants, thus bringing the system closer to nature and forming a living system within the home. The designer Marco Balsinha used red clay as a mediator of moistness and odor filter to emphasize the project’s earthy concept.

For the system to work, earthworms are used as an accelerating agent in the composting process. The precious humus is thus obtained together with its tea, which can feed the plant at the top of the system. Uroboro is a modular system with 4 different pieces that can be extended by adding further composting bins up without conditioning the earthworms’ mobility. The same part can be separated and replaced still with earthworms inside.

The prototypes were produced in Portugal and tested in several households. The results proved to be surprisingly positive. The project was presented to the public in December 2015 in the final dissertation of the Product Design Master, at ESAD Caldas da Rainha – Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.

Further information: marcobalsinha.com

Bios Urn: Creating Life after Life

With the Bios Urn, a design studio from Barcelona wants to propagate the idea of turning cemeteries into forests.

The Bios Urn is a fully biodegradable urn designed to convert the ashes of people into a tree. Mainly composed by two parts, the urn contains a seed which will grow to remember the deceased loved one. Bios Urn turns death into a transformation and a return to life through nature.

The top capsule of Bios Urn was built to facilitate the growth of the seed. Before burying the urn one has to mix the components with some soil from where the urn will be planted later. The components allow a proper seed germination. Thanks to Bios Urn structure, the seed germinates in the top capsule, separated from the ashes. Once the urn starts to biodegrade seed roots are already strong enough to contact the ashes. With biodegradation the entire set becomes part of the sub-soil.

Bios Urn’s goal is to enhance a different experience to approach what’s probably one of the most important moments in human life. The inventors behind it believe death is nothing but a word used to describe something unknown. Bios Urn wants to change the way people see death, converting the “end of life” into the natural cycle of life.

The mission is to become a reference company in the field of new and alternative solutions by offering excellent, high value-added products that challenge people to re-define the true meaning of life and to lead a new movement, strong and powerful enough to change the status quo.

Bios Urn already sold more than 17,000 urns around the world reaching a distribution network with a presence in more than 15 countries in the Euro Zone and North America.

Further information: urnabios.com

3 Questions to: Sonja Dümmen (Dümmen GmbH)

The Rheinberg-based company Dümmen Group is consistently expanding its sustainability strategy. In future they will supply fair trade poinsettias under the Red Fox brand to their international pot plant producers. Thus Dümmen will answer the widely shared desire for an ethical, transparent production chain. Sonja Dümmen is Head of Marketing at Dümmen GmbH and is managing the Fairtrade project.

Mrs. Dümmen, what are the reasons why the Dümmen Group will soon be selling poinsettias from your farm Red Fox Ethiopia as a Fairtrade product?
Dümmen: The Fairtrade Mark renders visible our way of working and what we represent. It records monitored working conditions and a responsible approach to plant protection and the environment. What is most important, however, is that it provides support for the people locally in Ethiopia. With Fairtrade we have the opportunity to invest 10% of the turnover directly on the ground for the benefit of the people there. The consumers who make a conscious decision to buy here support this initiative by purchasing Fairtrade products.

How can we visualise the certification process? What are the challenges?
Dümmen: All partners in the chain have to be certified, starting with the parent plant production site in Ethiopia, which is inspected by an independent certification organisation. Other links in the chain also have to be certified, however, such as the production plant in Rheinberg and the producers in Europe that raise the poinsettia cuttings. Since we run the production chain centrally, from cultivation to the finished young plant, this is entirely feasible. We only have to create transparency for third parties, which naturally always entails administrative work.

What specific advantages do you see for retailers, nurseries and last but not least for customers?
Dümmen: The advantages for the retail trade are quite clear and are to be found in the transparency of the supply chain. It can always trace Fairtrade products back to their origin and rely on the fact that reliable, inspected suppliers are behind the product. The consumer can buy responsibly and help people in Africa by buying Fairtrade. Transparency is important here too. The customer sees where the cutting comes from, but also who has raised the product to its finished state in Germany or Europe. The customer is also informed about the advantages for our partner businesses: ten percent of the revenue from the cut-tings is for the workers locally in the country of origin to use as they see fit for social purposes. The monitored production conditions create transparency and guarantee a fair process.

Further information: dummengroup.com

The Green Room in Ludwigsburg

The Green Room in Ludwigsburg is part of the EU research project “TURAS”, which has the goal to find out, how cities and other regions can be made sustainable for the future.

Especially in tight metropolises with lots of heavily sealed surfaces, the installation of planted vertical construction elements, for example green facades and green roofs, is a significant help to increase the overall green area.

In spring 2014, the Green Room was officially introduced in Ludwigsburg on the Rathaushof. The walls of this room are made from planted cube elements in different sizes, filled with substrate. About 7.000 plants are growing out of the cubes and the roof is made from plane trees. The result is a green oasis in the middle of the city, where people can cool down and relax.

The construction of the Green Room has been realised by the German company Helix Pflanzen GmbH. An automatic irrigation system waters the 140 m² of new green space with rainwater.

Further information: turas-cities.eu and helix-pflanzen.de

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