Less than one week before we leave Amsterdam! The last few weeks saw us visit potential partners, give media interviews, buy essential gear and say goodbye to some family and friends. Here’s a roundup.
Sustainable Solutions in the Netherlands
During research for our upcoming article on plastic soup, we came across two Dutch initiatives that tackle plastic waste. Plastic Whale is a young enterprise/foundation based in Amsterdam. They organise fishing trips through the canals on their electric boats made from recycled plastic. Fishing in the canals of Amsterdam? Yes, for plastic waste! We joined them the day after King’s Day together with a film crew from energy company Vandebron. From the start we got very fanatic – we tried to get each piece of rubbish out of the canals. The amount of waste in the canals was a reminder how much rubbish ends up in the water and how much better care we ought to take. Plastic Whale aims to raise awareness by involving people in the cleanup and showing that plastic is a valuable resource: the plastic they fish out of the canals is recycled to make new boats! Vandebron made a video about it in which we prominently feature.
The same week we went to Katwijk aan Zee with our friend Noortje Schauwen. She has set up “Resource Collectors” (Grondstofjutters) at the beach. Anyone who visits the beach can grab a bag from a beach pavilion, clean the beach and return the bag filled with collected waste to the beach pavilion. In exchange you get a free coffee or ice cream. And the plastics you collect are turned into new products, right there at the beach, using a solar-powered oven. So clever! The oven was still in production when we joined Noortje and her friend for an afternoon of beach cleaning, but is ready for your visit now. We collected remnants of fishing nets, pieces of toys, plastic bottles – just about anything people take to the beach. It was very rewarding to leave with a part of the beach cleaned – we hope this initiative will spread all over the coast.
We also visited the wonderful people at the Land Life Company. They are an Amsterdam-based company with a great product – the Cocoon – which revolutionises replanting efforts. The cocoon stores and slowly releases water to newly planted trees. We’ll describe it in more detail as a sustainable solution when we visit one of their projects in Italy.
Interviews and Media
The media is starting to pick up on us! A reporter from Elsevier Juist interviewed us on the boat – the story will hit the shelves this month. And Ivar had his 10 minutes of fame when he was interviewed on Business News Radio (BNR Duurzaam) about our upcoming travels. If you missed it, you can listen to it here (Ivar’s bit starts at (9:14 min into the broadcast).
Also, Dutch yachting website (Nauticlink) wrote about us in their latest newsletter. This was a great surprise for us and we think they did a wonderful job summarizing our project.
Our partners are also helping us gain attention this month. Between Us, a sustainable business consultancy based in Breda, wrote an article about us for their newsletter and website. And next week our first blog on ABN AMRO Bank’s website will appear. Keep your eyes out for it!
Finally, we paid a visit to corporate cinema agency 1camera. They have put together a 15s introvideo which we will use for our videos (vlogs). We are currently working on our first vlog (employing the techniques that Veerle, JP and Peter taught us) about our journey, so watch this space…
Essential Gear and Skills
Whereas we still don’t fully realize that we are very close to leaving for our trip, our wallets certainly noticed. We bought a lot of groceries, purchased a satellite phone and spent a day configuring it to receive weather files on our computer (an article on how we achieved this amazing feat will follow). With the help of donations we were able to buy an electric outboard motor for the dinghy. It is charged with solar and wind energy – we can’t wait to use it at our first anchorage. Finally, we visited KevMic diving centre in Alkmaar to refresh our diving skills. It turned out that we had forgotten most of the routines, so there were a lot of “aha”-moments in the pool. We came back with two sets of diving gear, which will enable us to inspect the boat from below, remove fishing line caught in the propellor, and admire the underwater world.
In stark contrast with the admiration of life underneath the boat, we also plan on catching fish for consumption. Once again we drew on friends to prepare us for that. Mirjam showed us the ins and outs of gutting fish, while Jelle gave us tips and tools for their preparation on the bbq. Now all we need is to catch the fish!
Finally, we made several trips to the travel clinic of the municipality and Ivar’s work for vaccinations. Rabies, yellow fever, typhoid (buiktyfus) – nothing will stop us!
As our departure (Monday, 13 June) approaches, so does the time for goodbyes. My family in Switzerland and Germany is too far away to waive us goodbye, so Ivar and I got good old interrail-passes for a train trip down South. It was lovely to see them, but we also realized that we will not seem them until they visit us somewhere on our trip. This theme continued during our lunches and dinners with friends and colleagues. In our heads we know we won’t see them for a while, but it has not really sunk in yet. Perhaps it only will when we lose sight of the Dutch coast and hoist the German courtesy flag.
And here’s a video summary of our preparations: