A major eight-week social media campaign launches today to encourage Scots to try upcycling – and discover the joys of re-use. Upcycle (verb): “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” ‘
Design Doctor’ – #DesignDoc – is run by Zero Waste Scotland to encourage and inspire everyone to try upcycling and discover the joys of re-use, with expert guidance from designers – both online and in person. The campaign will culminate in a range of interactive events at the end of November.
Each week, three Scottish designers – Emily Rose Vintage and Treemendus from Glasgow and Very Vintage from Edinburgh – will completely transform one of seven items of furniture and post the details on Twitter and Facebook. The pieces destined for upcycling will be sourced from a range of second-hand stores accredited by ‘Revolve’ – a re-use quality standard for shops who sell second hand goods in Scotland. The Revolve brand is only awarded to retailers who demonstrate a high level of excellence, both in service and product – making it safe, easy and inviting for everyone to buy second-hand items.
The Design Doctor designers will demonstrate a range of techniques and tricks to give people the creative inspiration to upcycle their own pieces of furniture, thus increasing the value of their item while lowering their carbon footprint.
Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: “The Design Doctor campaign is an ideal fit with the Scottish Government’s approach to creating a more circular economy in Scotland. The attraction of a more circular approach to our economy – where we keep materials flowing through the economy at as high a value as possible, for as long as possible – is that it tackles a number of economic, environmental, social and moral imperatives.
“Scotland’s Revolve programme is a great way to empower people to upcycle household items instead of throwing them away – and this is a concept that makes sense for business, industry, the public sector, and individuals. As we approach an expensive time of year in the run up to Christmas, this campaign is the perfect way to look at saving a bit of money and having the opportunity to be creative with some of your household items.”
Each week, Twitter and Facebook users who follow the #DesignDoc hashtag can see pictures of the piece of furniture waiting to be upcycled. Three ideas will be suggested by the designers as to how they might transform the piece and users will be asked to vote for their favourite design. The winning idea will be used to create the final upcycled article, with an accompanying ‘how to’ guide uploaded online with pictures. The social media campaign will also include a competition to win the chance to have a piece of furniture upcycled by one of the designers.
Izzie Johnston, Reuse and Repair Manager, Zero Waste Scotland, said:“Our innovative Design Doctor social media campaign is all about encouraging people to overcome any uncertainties they may have about upcycling, and providing them with the skills and confidence to give it a try. The campaign centres around getting people involved and being interactive, so we’re really excited to see the results.
“Re-using things – whether that be through upcycling, donating unwanted items, or buying from re-use store – is one of the best options for the environment since it prevents waste going to landfill or simply being recycled. Upcycling is a particularly exciting aspect to this because it can add both aesthetic and financial value to an item.
“Those who feel inspired to re-use and buy second-hand can visit one of over 40 fantastic Revolve-accredited stores throughout Scotland, where they’ll find high quality, excellent value goods. They can also join the conversation on Twitter by following @revolvereuse. We really want people to realise that second-hand need never mean second best. Equally, there is a wonderful sense of pride, achievement – and even surprise – to be gained from producing something beautiful, unique and valuable for your home by upcycling something you already have.”
The campaign will also incorporate videos and blogs to engage people online, alongside five in-store upcycling workshops hosted by one of the three campaign designers at Revolve-accredited stores in Edinburgh, Irvine, the Isle of Bute, Dingwall and Dysart.
The Revolve-accredited stores donating furniture to the Design Doctor campaign are: Second Opportunities in Glasgow; Oskars in Paisley; New Start Highland and Everything Baby in Inverness; Cunninghame Furniture Recycling in Irvine, and Fyne Futures on the Isle of Bute.
There are now over 40 Revolve-accredited shops in Scotland. Customers with items they no longer require can ensure their goods are re-used rather than landfilled by contacting the National Re-Use Phone Line on 0800 0665 820. The facility allows callers to skip the hassle of taking large household items like bed frames, sofas and white goods to the local recycling centre, and instead have them picked up and taken to be re-used by someone else, free of charge. Re-using rather than recycling 100 sofas, for example, saves 1.5 tonnes of carbon and is a much more environmentally-friendly option.
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
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.
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 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.
Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family
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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