When I stopped using washing detergent...

When I was shopping in the Marqt the other day I came across a very interesting soap for washing clothes.

It's a shell that comes from a special tree in the Himalayan mountains. There they have been using it for generations as soap and it has been recently been rediscovered and resold by a Dutch company called Seepje [Soapy in Dutch].
 

The Good

The nuts are really easy to use. They sell it with small pouches that fit exactly 4~5 whole nuts and are usable with colors, blacks, wool, silk, anything. They are a lot cheaper than traditional washing detergent and result in very soft and clean clothes. There is no need to add any fabric softeners as the nuts have this effect naturally. 


The Bad

The packaging advised me to fill each pouch with 4~5 nuts and use them only 4 times. As I have been using it for quite a while I can say that it's hard to keep track how many times each pouch has been used. Furthermore the washing 'powers' of the first wash will be significantly stronger than the last wash. Just like you would pour four cup of teas, the first one would taste strong, second would taste medium but the third and fourth would taste soft.  
 

The Sustainable

As the nuts literally grow on trees I can safely say it is OK to let the soapy waters go through the drain. After the shells have been used 4 times they can be thrown away together with the house trash as they are bio degradable. 

 

Conclusion

Soap nuts are the best alternative for the current chemical washing detergent and are sold in the Netherlands by the brand Seepje for €7,95 per bag (good for 30 washes). I would only like to see a system/product that evens out the balance between the first and the last wash with the nuts.  

Design  ★★☆☆☆
Sustainability  ★★★★☆
Price  ★★★★☆

When I went to Doel...

There is nothing more awesome to capture on a analog camera than a deserted town.

"Hey, let's go to a deserted town!"

Tom said as he was hiding behind the screen of his laptop. Shortly after his comment we started searching for a nearby town where we could take the car and shoot a few pictures. A town called 'Doel' quickly showed up and so Tom, my brother and me went to the town called Doel in Belgium near the Dutch border.

"What is this place?!"

The reason why Doel is deserted was very clear upon arrival and can be seen clearly on the second picture. They wanted to open up a Nuclear Energy Plant in stead of the town and demanded the residents of Doel to leave the town, most of them did except a few. The plant got build anyway and the residents that remained in Doel stayed there to make a statement against Nuclear Energy. 

An interesting photography road nonetheless

When I build my own analog camera...

My brother gave me a Lomography Konstruktor last year for christmas. This 35mm DIY SLR camera has a 50mm f10 lens and can shoot at a shutter speed of 1/80s. It was an awesome project to build your own SLR camera using the instructions but taking pictures with is is a whole new ball game. For anyone who doesn't shoot in manual mode, trust me, it's a challenge! 

When my longboard went overboard...

 That's where he went in... somewhere.

That's where he went in... somewhere.

Here's a little story about courage, determination and friends facing the elements of nature. 

So what happened?

On a Thursday in July the sun was shining ever so bright with a few clouds in the sky and a nice breeze. With these perfect canal swimming conditions my friends in Amsterdam obviously went out to do some proper bridge diving. It so happened to be that Gravett had my beloved hand-made Durke's longboard which Tawil was using to practice his longboard skills right next to the water. Sadly for Tawil, my longboard got a ming of its own and decided to take a dive himself. He (my board) clipped Tawil's foot which resulted in a obstacle free six-stride run up right into the 9 meters deep canals....

Briefly after Tawil's loud yell my longboard was well air born and on his way to Davy Jones's Locker (simple because he forgot he had two heavy aluminum wheel trucks that would drag him down to the bottom in an instant).

As soon as the sound of Tawil's voice was followed by a plunge of the longboard Gravett knew there was trouble and jumped up and ran to the water. It didn't take much before he knew what was going on and he took a dive trying to save the lost soul. Without any luck the boys gave up after exhausting their lungs under the water' surface. It was to deep and dark to spot anything but water and dirt.

and then?

It goes without saying that I couldn't rest for a minute before attempting this pointless mission myself. Therefore, the next day, Gravett and I thought of a plan of building our own hook and try to fish that longboard out of the water. Step one was to build a DIY deep water grappling hook combining a heavy hamer with four large hooks using a 35m nylon rope. Step two was to get to the location and start scraping the bottom of the canals with our DIY fishing hook. Shortly after we started, the rain came pouring down on us but there was no way we could give up now. By this time Tawil arrived to support us.

Did it work?

After 30 minutes of scraping the bottom of the canal with our hook I found what seemed to feel like a metal sheet. So I tried many different ways to hook onto this undefined item. Whatever it was, it was exactly on the spot where the longboard actually dived into the water so my hopes were high! After jumping on a fastened boat to try grabbing the item from a different angle I felt that the hook was fixed on the item! So by lifting up the item inch for inch I managed to lift it off the bottom of the canal and it was slowly on its way to the surface. At this time I was saying ‘guys, I think I have something here, I definitely have something here!!’ and the guys came near to see what it was. The first thing we saw was the orange tip of the hamer , and shortly after that the nose and two wheels appeared from the darkened water! By this time all three of us were screaming out of disbelieve "NO WAAAY!!”. As careful as I could I lifted the board out from the water and just hugged the shit out of that smelly board of mine. I’m not the finest fisherman out there, but this was one hell of a catch if you ask me.

 
 20 meters of rope, 4 hooks and a hammer

20 meters of rope, 4 hooks and a hammer

 
 That's what the thing looked like

That's what the thing looked like

 
 There she is! 

There she is! 

When I stopped buying bottled water...

ohyo-4

Over a month ago I received the Ohyo Collapsabottle to review for the organization MyStyle. 
 

 Product Explanation

The idea behind Ohyo Collapsabottle is that it will substitute the PET bottle and keeps the user from buying bottled water. The design helps the user to take the Ohyo with him wherever he goes due to its ability to become really compact when the function as bottle is no longer needed. They are sold for about €4,50 per unit and €6,- for a pair. In short, I love it. The Ohyo has a character of its own. The squeaky sounds and the quirky shape gives the Ohyo the characteristics you will love. The Ohyo also functions really well as conversation material, because people ask me what 'that funny thing' is all the time and after a short explanation they like it instantly. The product motivates me to drink more and makes it even fun. Finally the fact that the logo is readable even upside down is something a graphic designer really appreciates.

20130726-002350.jpg

My Opinion

I will now explain in further detail my findings after using the product for over a month. During this time there were several negative aspects that I wanted to share with you guys. First I would like to talk about the lid. The very first time the lid felt rather fragile due to the mechanism needed to open the tip. This tip is supposed to click in a certain angle that makes it possible to drink properly. This tip does not always open correctly. There have been several situations where I clicked the tip in the position without looking and when I tried to drink it, it spilled water all over my work because I didn't click it in the right position. The side of the lid also doesn't provide enough grip to comfortably open and close.

20130726-002452.jpg

Secondly I would like to talk about the last part of the Ohyo, the container. I noticed very soon that the maximum amount of water that the container could hold was barely 500ml. That sounds like a lot but that's just a few sips, which is not enough if you're planning a trip of more than two hours. However, when the bottle is empty, the Ohyo can be collapsed to less then 30% of its original size which makes it a good travel companion. The material used to make the container is recycled LDPE (Low Density Poly Ethylene), this makes the Ohyo durable and dishwasher safe. Based on a test done by an independent company the container can last up to 9 years of intensive usage. This really decreases the CO2 footprint. Also, when collapsed, the Ohyo also provides as a good beach toy to throw to each other when you’re bored.

Conclusion

Design ★★★☆☆
Playful design, but weak mechanism and to small.

Sustainability ★★★★☆
The idea behind it is nice, but the material used is still (recycled) plastic nonetheless,

Price ★★★☆☆
Very expensive for a plastic bottle, but cheap for its lifetime.

Recommendations for the producers of the Ohyo.

• The collapsing and expanding design provides interesting space for graphics. You might even consider giving it awesome graphics that still work even when collapsed. • If you would make an Ohyo bottle which contains 750 or even 1000ml, I would buy it without hesitation. This is really the aspect I dislike the most. It forced me to fill it up too many times and if my journey is longer than two hours I am forced to buy bottled water at a supermarket. • Finally, the lid could use more grip and haptic feedback to know when it's properly closed, this is not clear at the moment.

20130726-002434.jpg

This is a MyStyle article. MyStyle is a group of young people that test sustainable products. From clothes and gadgets to food and cosmetics.We are independent and brutally honest, not a marketing scheme or advertisement. Check out all our reviews and more on the MyStyle Facebookpage and Twitter.

When I stopped using the cab...

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 6.43.07 PM

There is a lot to say about those white and blue Car2Go Smart cars cruising around the city, one of those things is definitely 'useful'.

Car2Go is a car-sharing system that is located in twentyfive major cities like London, Berlin, Washington, Milan and Amsterdam. You pay per minute that you use the car and good behaviour is rewarded with free minutes. I have been using car2Go in Amsterdam now for six months and will share my thoughts with you.

 Best combination

Best combination

THE GOOD

Maybe the farmost best aspect of this service is that you actually have the feeling you own a car in the city, without paying thousands of euros, no need to worry about insurance, and no hassle for the maintenance.

The two ­persons car itself is ideal for short commuter trips between your house, train stations, work and visiting friends on the other side of town. The car is also very good at transporting large things like suitcases, fragile packages and of course birthday cakes! Usually stuff which is hard to transport on the bicycle.

Knowing that you're almost always 5 to ­10 minutes away from a car in Amsterdam is really what makes this service so convenient. Furthermore, the car is one of the easiest cars I have driven, no clutch, no shifting gears just simply (un)plug and play.

 Screenshot Car2Go App

Screenshot Car2Go App

The bad

There is a lot left to improve in the overall experience of using Car2Go. First of all, the dashboard, which has built in navigation and radio, does not give you an option to turn the radio off but still hear the navigation. It’s either both or neither. The Navigation is outdated, even when it’s just a city the system has to take into account there is a lot of information missing like months long construction sites and closed roads. There is no feedback during or after the trip of the minutes or costs you made. So it’s always an unpleasant surprise when you get the invoice weeks later. I would appreciate some more transparency here about the costs I make.

 Car2Go Interior

Car2Go Interior

I also had some really bad experience with the support centre. In September 2013, when I had a meeting at my work I chose to take Car2Go because the public transport would not be fast enough. The car that was nearest to me was 45% full and the distance would take about 15~20%. Which is good, cause when you are below 30% you get 20 minutes free for your next ride.

When I arrived at my work with a battery level of 25% I parked at the nearest charging pole to receive those free minutes. One of the plugs was being used and the other was free, so after parking there and following the steps explained on the pole I tried to charge the car but it didn't work! After calling customer service and telling me the problem was with the charging pole, they advised me to try an other pole. The next one was even further away from my work but now I really wanted those free minutes since the whole situation took over 20 minutes extra already.

When I arrived at the next charging pole I tried the same as before but again without any luck. I wanted to call customer service again but the connection dropped three times in a row after a few minutes of explaining the situation. Finally I got a hold of them and they made it clear that the customer service could not help me, so they forwarded my call to the technical support and just as they forwarded me the call dropped, again! You can imagine that at this point I was very frustrated and couldn't care less about those free minutes, but it got worse. I decided to just park the car and run to my work because at this time I was almost 45 minutes late. Because you are not allowed to park in a electric car spot if you're not charging I decided park it just a little bit closer to my work. As I put the car in reverse and drove out of the parking spot the battery fell below 19% and if this happens you HAVE to connect it to a charging pole. Can you believe this?! When I got and read this notification on the dashboard I couldn't do anything else but laugh.

I just decided to park the car right next to my work, call the customer service, explain the situation and ask them if it's ok if I park it and charge it after my meeting. But sadly it wasn't as simple as I thought. First they said it's not possible, but after I got really frustrated, they said that there is only one way, that they remotely lock the car. First they needed the exact address, then I had to step out of the car, wait for 10 minutes and check if the remote lock was successful. I agreed but only if I pay for the minutes I actually used the car, not the approx 90 minutes I stood still, waited and called with customer service. The customer support said that they will check how much time I stood still and won't charge me for it. So I accepted the situation as it was, stepped out the car, waited for 10 minutes, walked to work and said sorry to my boss for being almost two hours late...

 

 Interface Car2Go EcoScore 

Interface Car2Go EcoScore 

AND THE SUSTAINABLE

The sustainable value of this service is very high, it's not just an electric, small car with a low carbon footprint but the most environmentally sustainable aspect is that the 200+ cars are being shared by a LOT of people who otherwise would together use more than 2000+ personal cars.

Just making a product that is sustainable will not do the trick, it's about changing peoples behaviour that will really make a difference. And the interface of the Car2Go have a funny way of doing this. They will show you three trees in the 'score' section of the interface, for acceleration, cruising and deceleration. The better you drive the nicer the trees will look. If you drive really bad there will be nothing but a sad piece of a tree trunk.

Short User Interview

I did a short (Dutch) interview with an other user. Audio is not so good but it will give you a good idea how the system works.

Car2Go User Interview from Samy Andary on Vimeo.

Conclusion

Design ★★★★☆
The design of the service lacks certain qualities to get a higher score.

Sustainability ★★★★★
I mean it’s an electric shared car, what do you want more?

Price ★★☆☆☆
They recently bumped the price up to €0.31 per hour, which I think is really too much. Public transport still beats Car2Go in a long run.

 Recommendations

• It would be awesome if Car2Go would give every user 30 bonus minutes on their birthday to get the cake safely to work or home. It would be a very small token of appreciation from the company which would mean a lot to the users.

• Currently the app is solely useful to locate a Car2Go, but the app could show more information like your latest drive, your highest and average scores and general account info. 


This is a MyStyle article. MyStyle is a group of young people that test sustainable products. From clothes and gadgets to food and cosmetics.We are independent and brutally honest, not a marketing scheme or advertisement. Check out all our reviews and more on the MyStyle Facebookpage and Twitter.

When I got a wallet made from paper...

wallets.jpg

In a world where payment is done mostly by cards and even phones, wallets with a lot of storage area are starting to become obsolete.

Crispy Wallet has tapped right into this developing trend and came with a wallet as thin as paper. They combined the ancient eastern art of origami with a western need to carry personal items, banknotes and laminated cards and developed the Crispy Wallet. They have only one model and are sold between €12 and €24 depending on the artwork.

The Good

 Our tear test, four guys

Our tear test, four guys

Probably the coolest and most obvious aspect of the wallet is the material. Tyvek® is a very strong flashspun of HDPE fibers. The material is difficult to tear and liquid water can’t pass through. When you buy the wallet they give you a piece of Tyvek to prove it's durability. So the very first thing I did together with a friend was to put it to the test! As shown in the picture we were able to get a small tear. I have to admit that there was some biting involved after I didn’t even get a small scratch on there after 10 minutes.

The print is very nice, I choose for ‘Meerwelt’ which is German for Sea World, because I love the beach and the horizon of the sea is hypnotizing for me. The variation of artwork that Crispy Wallet offers is very broad because of the many artist they collaborate with.

Crispy Wallet Collection
Crispy Wallet Collection

The wallet’s card slots are very intelligent, as they also patented the principle of keeping a card from falling out of the wallet without making the wallet any thicker. After putting it to the test, I too, can say that it indeed keeps your cards from falling out. A bonus that comes with the two opposite cardholder that you can place your cards with chips on either side and still use them without taking them out. For instance, I have in the right slot my public transport chipcard and on the left side my Car2Go membership chip card. I can use both of them by just flipping my wallet open like an FBI agent flashing his badge.

 My wallet holding 6 cards

My wallet holding 6 cards

 After one year (see how the yellow card got damaged?)

After one year (see how the yellow card got damaged?)

When I just received the wallet I doubted that it would survive me. I store my wallet everywhere, have little to no respect for it and forget about it many times. An other time I dropped it on the floor of a busy train where it was tramped on for several stops until someone found it and contacted me. I even went so far to prove to someone that the wallet is indeed waterproof that I just turned on the water tap, put the wallet in the stream of water and showed him that all the content is still dry. It survived all of those incidents, and even better, it shaped the wallet. I kept it in my back pocket on which I sit most of the time which really flattened the wallet and made these awesome marks of usage that complimented the whole look and feel of the wallet. As seen below two pictures with the same content but left was directly from the package and right is after two months usage.

 The first day

The first day

 After 2 months

After 2 months

 After 12 months

After 12 months

The bad

After really thinking hard about what is actually bad about this product I could only come up with one thing based on something that happened recently when visiting my parents. Everytime I come home a certain ritual starts, I’m sure you know it. That standard: “Hi, I’m home!!” as you kick off your shoes, throw your coat over the first object you see, drop your bag on the floor for everyone to trip over, empty your pockets on the dining table and crash on the couch. So when my mother wanted to clean up the table she placed my wallet, which was just a folded piece of paper for her, on a pile of other documents. This caused a whole search operation for my wallet when I had to leave the next morning.

And the sustainable

Tyvek is made from HDPE which can be recycled by DuPont and they will recycle it if you are willing to pay for the shipment costs. Any other place, nearby, that recycles plastic is also possible. Furthermore, the reason why this wallet is considered sustainable is because it is made from one sheet of Tyvek which makes the wallet tear resistant and more durable than most of the wallets out there.

 Packaging (front)

Packaging (front)

 Packaging (back)

Packaging (back)

Conclusion

Design ★★★★★ 
The fact that it’s folded from one piece of Tyvek is simply amazing Origami skills. 

Sustainability ★★★★☆
Tyvek is still a plastic but the durability got me.

Price ★★★★☆
I consider €20 a good price for a quality wallet that will stay with you for a long time.


This is a MyStyle article. MyStyle is a group of young people that test sustainable products. From clothes and gadgets to food and cosmetics.We are independent and brutally honest, not a marketing scheme or advertisement. Check out all our reviews and more on the MyStyle Facebookpage and Twitter.