Rival Dutch cities create tile-removing competition to expand green space

In the Netherlands, an age-old rivalry exists between the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This rivalry can turn ugly, especially when the city’s voetbal (soccer) teams play each other.

Recently, however, the rivalry has been channeled in order to spur excitement about a new initiative to expand green space in Dutch cities. In the Netherlands, it is very common to see apartment buildings, offices, and homes surrounded by tiles. These tiles aren’t exactly beautiful, and they don’t do anything to help the environment. That’s why the cities came up with a competition to see who can remove the most tiles and replace them with plants and trees.

“The rivalry between the two cities is often something negative, but was used in a positive way this time around,” said Eva Braaksma, whose organization, Frank Lee, coordinated the event on behalf of several groups. 

In the head-to-head tile-popping competition, it was the port city of Rotterdam that emerged victorious, removing a total of 47,942 tiles in comparison with the 46,484 removed by the Amsterdammers.

While removing tiles and replacing them with greenery will help the Dutch sequester more carbon, there is a whole lot more that needs to be done for the government to reach the court-ordered 25 percent reduction in CO2 that it was supposed to have reached by the end of 2020. Even if the cities de-tiles 3 percent of open public spaces, it will account for .1 megatons of the 17 megatons needed to reduce the Dutch carbon footprint by 25 percent.

That said, removing tiles has a bigger impact than just reducing carbon. It also helps to improve water management as more water can drip down through the added green space into the groundwater, where it is available to use.

One of the things that The Optimist Daily can appreciate about this tile-removing competition is that it serves as a tool for public education and invites citizens to get involved with the green ambitions of the city. If we truly want to make our living spaces more green, then it’s important that people feel involved and invested in making that happen.

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