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90% Of English shoppers still forgetting their bags one week into the 5p tax

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Two weeks into the English tax on single use carrier bags in supermarkets, ninety percent of shoppers are still heading out for their weekly shop forgetting their reusable bags.

With millions of carriers still being issued by major stores every day, one national waste and management company is posing the difficult question: Is the carrier bag tax high enough?

The BigGreen.co.uk waste prevention company says that the first weeks of the tax has seen shoppers use all sort of ingenious tactics to avoid the tax, all to avoid paying just five pence. “In the great scheme of things, five pence is just chicken feed,” says Big Green‘s Johnny Ratcliffe. “That kind of small change in just a minor inconvenience to most people.”

That’s why Big Green is suggesting an early increase in the tax, as the company is convinced that English shoppers won’t end their plastic habit unless bags are made truly undesirable. “We get through 7 billion plastic bags every year, and that number’s not going to go down unless people genuinely switch to reusable bags.”

Big Green asked over 1,500 shoppers about how their habits have changed in the first week of the 5p charge, and found:

– 89% forgot their reusable bags, or didn’t have bags to begin with

– 11% brought bags with them

– 73% paid 5p per bag for one or more single-use bags

– 21% bought reusable plastic or hessian bags at the till

– 6% used no bags at all, or improvised

Figures released earlier this year show how successful the policy has been in other parts of the UK where the bag tax has been a reality for one or more years.

– Scottish plastic bag use has decreased by 130 million bags, or around 80%

– In Wales, plastic bag use has dropped by 71%, with overall bag use dropping by 57%

– Plastic bag use has dropped from 190 million bags to 30 million per year in Northern Ireland

But to make the policy a success, English shoppers have to be convinced to reuse their bags, or somehow get their shopping home without using bags at all. With the first news stories about shoppers refusing to pay the tax hitting the media, Business Waste has heard tales of people resorting to improvisation to get their groceries home without the use of bags, some more successful than others:

– Some shoppers are packing their groceries into cardboard boxes, in scenes reminiscent of the early days of supermarkets when used boxes weren’t sent to the crusher

– Another person was seen improvising a rucksack out of their coat, just to get their shopping out to the car park

– One checkout worker witnessed a grown man putting his shopping into (unused) dog poo bags produced from the customer’s pockets

– Another said they had seen families unloading trollies directly into the back of their cars, presumably to relay everything into the house once they got home

“And that’s just to save five pence per bag – or about ten quid a year for the average family,” says Big Green’s Johnny Ratcliffe, who hopes more people come up with alternative ways of getting their goods home to get the message across that saving resources is a good thing.

“But from what we’ve heard, the huge, huge majority of people are still putting their hands in their pockets and paying out the 5p,” he says, and that’s why he feels the charge has been set far too low. That being the case, it looks like we’re resistant as a country to such a small charge, and that’s why it should be at least 20p – or perhaps even higher.”

But the way ahead is simple for English shoppers: Be like the rest of the UK and remember your reusable bags.

“While it’s great that 4p per bag is going to charity, the kindest thing you can do is help save the planet by using fewer throwaway bags.”

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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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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