Take recycling to the next level

Taking recycling to the next level

Jan Egberts, a retired Wärtsilian, has taken recycling to a whole new level. He sees potential in things that others could discard. Case in point, scrapped parts from a Wärtsilä VASA 32 engine that have a new purpose in his garden sauna.

Text: RAINER AHLVIK Photo: JOHANNES TERVO

Jan Egberts retired in 2014 after 29 years of service at Wärtsilä. His work life took this Dutch ship engineer and his wife all over the world; from the Netherlands to India, Japan, Chile, Ecuador, the USA, Germany and, of course, Finland.

“We have now settled in Rotterdam, Holland, but we spend the summer months at our summer house that we built in 2009 in Björköby, some 50 km outside Vaasa, Finland,” says Egberts.

He finds it a bit odd that his ties to Vaasa grew stronger when he was far away in Japan. Egberts and his wife, Betty, who he has been married to for 45 years, both love being in Finland, especially during the summer. Egberts says that he immediately fell in love with Björköby after visiting the island in the archipelago. Betty, however, was not so easily convinced.

“After several years of persuasion, we had a trial stay at Björköby Camping in the summer of 2008. That convinced her, and the following year we built our little house in Björköby, says Egberts.

According to Egberts, he had a clear view of how he would go about building the house, since coming as a foreigner to a small place could have its challenges.

“My main goal was to use local people as much as possible. So, we hired a local entrepreneur to make the road, a local carpenter to build the house and the roadbuilder and his father to make our stone wall. I believe this is one of the reasons why the locals have accepted us very well,” explains Egberts.

   

Recycling waste material

Egberts wanted to build a garden sauna at their summer house and chose to use waste material for the project since he was, and is, very conscious about the environment and recycling. The outcome is stunning. The framework for the floor, the walls and the roof of the sauna is made from old timber pallets. The outside weatherboarding is made from planks, which gives the sauna a greyish, rugged wilderness look, and then there is the unique sauna stove.

“I already had the idea for the stove at the start of this house-building project. The sauna stove comprises old, scrapped engine parts. The stove is an old cylinder liner for a Wärtsilä VASA 32 engine with two piston crowns: one at the bottom and the other, upside-down at the top,” says Egberts while demonstrating the stove.

Recycled material features in places other than the sauna. In the garden, there is also a woodshed made from left-over materials from the house.

   

An active life

For Egberts, the word retirement does not mean sitting down and reading books. It is just not in his nature, he says, even though he admits he enjoys solving a Sudoku now and then.

In Rotterdam, he is an active volunteer in a house-owners’ club. The club takes care of 132 units in two buildings, where something is in need of repair and maintenance. Egberts is the first one they contact when something needs to be fixed.

He also joined a group of volunteers taking care of a former cruise ship, the SS Rotterdam. The ship was built in 1957-59 in Rotterdam and sailed the Atlantic. Now she is back in the old Rotterdam harbour, where she serves as a hotel, congress centre, and restaurant.

In addition to functioning as ship hosts, and providing guests with facts about the ship, the volunteers also undertake minor maintenance and restoration work. “I am the youngest in the group of volunteers and I have, for example, been assigned a project where 60 boxes full of original drawings – 2000-3000 – need to be sorted out and registered before we digitalise them,” Egberts explains.

   

Golden days of retirement

A long career has also left Egberts with many fond memories. He recalls how he and his colleagues used to almost fight over who would get to go on a service job.

“When I joined Wärtsilä, it was a small company where everyone knew each other and was dependent on each other. Neither decision-making nor action was ever far away. Today it is a big company and with that comes formality and bureaucracy. It was sometimes frustrating in the last years when it became necessary to have meetings before starting work,” says Egberts.

However, Egberts says the best thing about being retired is the freedom to do what you want. If he feels bad in the morning, he does not do anything. However, he does not leave his obligations with the SS Rotterdam unattended. From the apartment in Rotterdam’s old harbour, Egberts can overlook his hobby.
“In Rotterdam, we walk a lot and discover new interesting places. We love cooking a good meal and enjoying it with a glass of good wine. We find it important to spend time together and enjoy life.”

Cheers to that.

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