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Scotland Embrace Second-hand Shopping

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A company in Scotland is looking to reinvent second-hand shopping and repair skills in Edinburgh. The grand opening of the Edinburgh Remakery took place last weekend and customers got a real taste of recycling and reuse in the city. The Edinburgh Remakery was welcomed by a number of business-people and politicians including Roseanna Cunningham, the newly appointed Climate Change Secretary.

The store, at 125 Leith Walk (a former Santander bank branch) opened on Saturday 21 May from 12-5pm, where visitors took a tour of the premises, bought second hand and upcycled furniture, and viewed the two workshop spaces – one for textiles and computers, and one for furniture. Some also took part in free taster sessions for the repair workshops, including leatherwork, upholstery and a live computer repair demo.

Sophie Unwin, Director of The Edinburgh Remakery, said: “The Edinburgh Remakery will allow us to reach a whole new audience of people. We’re very excited about coming to Leith and hope there will be something for everyone in the goods and services we offer – from quality refurbished computers and furniture, workshops in lots of repair techniques, and workstation rental.

“I had the vision for the Edinburgh Remakery and our sister project – the Remakery in Brixton – in 2008. We couldn’t have got to where we are now without the backing of our supporters and Edinburgh City Council, and lots of hard work from our team of talented freelance tutors, staff and volunteers.

“We’re all very excited about the increased impact we can have now thanks to Scottish Government support.  This year alone, we’re looking to more than double the waste we divert to landfill from 90 to 240 tonnes and create an additional four jobs.”

At the launch, food was provided by the Real Junk Food Project, and there were displays from the Edinburgh Tool Library (which allows customer to rent, instead of buy tools) and Upcycled World, with prizes from a range of local businesses.

The Remakery was created by Remade in Edinburgh, which teaches furniture, computer and textile repair skills throughout the city, campaigns for goods to be built to last, and sells refurbished computers from its shop and community centre in Guthrie Street.

Supported by the funding from Zero Waste Scotland’s funded hub programme, and additional funding from City of Edinburgh Council, Remade in Edinburgh have been able to expand from their original premises in Guthrie Street to a new shop and learning centre on Leith Walk and ultimately will reach a much wider audience.

Furniture for the store will be provided by Wester Hailes charity Community Help & Advice Initiative (CHAI), which provides advice and support on issues like housing and homelessness.

Teresa Sutherland from CHAI, said: “We are delighted to be given this opportunity to work in partnership with The Edinburgh Remakery.  CHAI are offered donations of furniture on a daily basis that are broken and in need of repair.  Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to repair or upcycle them ourselves, so these items are refused and almost certainly end up in landfill.  Working in partnership with The Edinburgh Remakery will allow us to pass on these items to the re-use and repair hub, so it can be used for a much longer period of time – and people can also learn and develop new skills in this area. I am sure this project will be a great success.” 

The University of Edinburgh is providing IT equipment and student placements, and City of Edinburgh Council, which has provided funding to Remade in Edinburgh since 2011, has also put its weight behind the Remakery project, providing support in kind.

Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The University of Edinburgh is delighted to see The Edinburgh Remakery open its doors in Leith, giving another part of the city a hub for re-use and repair.

“We live in a world with finite resources, and one of the most impactful ways we can protect those resources is to reuse and repair the things we already have.

“The Remakery champions the idea of a circular economy, which is about transitioning from a ‘take-make-dispose’ linear approach to resource use, to systems that encourage reuse and extraction of maximum value before returning resources to the biosphere.

“The University currently works with Remade in Edinburgh to reuse and repair our old pcs before making them available for the Edinburgh community to purchase second hand. We look forward to expanding this partnership with the Remakery, and which them every success in their endeavours.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said: “We welcome the launch of The Remakery by Zero Waste Scotland and Remade in Edinburgh, which is an enterprise we have supported for several years. This hub will enable even more people to benefit from reused items, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and creating a more sustainable future for the city.”

The Remakery will provide customers with a range of experiences. They will be able to:

– Bring in their own items – whether textiles, computers, mobile phones and furniture, and unlike traditional repair centres, learn how to fix them themselves

– Buy refurbished computers

– Book one-to-ones with a dedicated computer repair specialist who will help customers repair their IT instead of ditching it

– Buy re-used furniture

– Donate second-hand IT, furniture and textiles

– Rent affordable workspace and tools

The success of Remade in Edinburgh’s community hub in Guthrie Street means it is poised to expand to a bigger and more prominent location, with Zero Waste Scotland’s backing.

Edinburgh’s first ‘re-use hub’, is part of a drive by Zero Waste Scotland to transform the scale and economic impact of re-use shopping in Scotland and enable more people to learn key repair skills.

This is the second ‘hub’ in Scotland following the successful launch of the first in in the Highlands last summer, led by Blythswood Care and also backed by Zero Waste Scotland.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “I’m excited about the launch of The Edinburgh Remakery which is at the forefront of a re-use and repair revolution in the city and Zero Waste Scotland is pleased to be able to support it. It will give local people a great new place to learn some vital skills or pick up a second-hand gem. 

“The hubs programme is all about increasing the scale and the profile of re-use for shoppers, and of repair skills generally when items break or need an update. We can keep the value of these items in local economies, creating local jobs and training opportunities, and prevent usable items from needlessly ending up in landfill.

“Edinburgh, and Scotland more widely, is an exciting place to be at the moment in terms of the momentum building around re-use retail and spreading repair skills – part of the Scottish Government’s plan to build a more resilient, circular economy.”

Promoting ‘reuse and repair hubs’ is one of a number of measures to make this approach much more common, as set out in the Scottish Government’s recent Circular Economy strategy, ‘Making Things Last’.

Re-use has a key role to play for Scotland’s economy and environment, helping us get better value from products by moving away from the model of buying items and throwing them away after little use.

Building the sector in Scotland will be essential in preventing perfectly usable items from going to landfill, benefiting the environment, and relieving pressure on scarce raw materials, while creating local jobs.

Many items, which could be used by someone else, currently go to landfill. Thousands of re-usable items end up there every year, including 304,000 individual 3-seater sofas and 151,000 washing machines.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said: “The Scottish Government wants repair and the sale and use of second hand goods to be seen as an attractive, mainstream, good value option for an increasing range of goods. I am pleased that we are supporting the Remakery as an early action to deliver on that ambition from our recent ‘Making Things Last’ strategy.

“I congratulate Remade on the opening of the Edinburgh Remakery and wish them every success.”

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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