Fair trade means fair transport

Photo: Berber van Beek

Green sailing: The schooner brig Tres Hombres is pioneering the “fair transport” industry.
Marianne Lamers | May/June 2012 Issue
It sounds like a romantic story about the Dutch East India Company: Three young sailors want to see the world, build a ship, and embark on a voyage of discovery. The true story is even better. Three long-haired Dutchmen, all in their 30s, decide commercial vessels should be more sustainable and take matters into their own hands. Arjen van der Veen, ­Andreas Lackner and Jorne Langelaan built their own freighter, Tres Hombres, in 2009. And since the launch, the three men have already traveled 30,000 sustainable miles.
And they’ve already launched yet another dream. In mid-2013, the first of a series of Ecoliners will hit the water. The soon-to-be-built cargo ships will each have a motor as well as a sail rigging that, when deployed, will cut fuel consumption by 50 percent, a great improvement on polluting commercial vessels, since most propelled barges use fossil fuels. The CO2 emissions of the barge industry are almost twice that of the airline industry.
Until now, Tres Hombres’ freight has mainly been its own label of rum (Tres Hombres Gran Añejo) as well as relief ­supplies for Haiti. Sustainable transport is still relatively expensive. With the arrival of the Ecoliners, though, that should change, helping the company become competitive.
The three friends have been ridiculed for their idealism. Van der Veen recalls, “They said, ‘It can’t be done. It will be too slow and it will cost too much.’ Others said, ‘Why don’t you guys wake up from your dream?’” ­Instead, the trio expects the combination of sustainability and adventure to keep them afloat for some time to come.
Arjen van der Veen, Jorne Langelaan and Andreas Lackner built their own freigther that cuts fuel consumption.

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