1. 27 June 2015
e are a nation in
love with the car.
According to the
2011 census, more
than 60 per cent
of Scotland’s 2.372m households
has access to at least one car or van,
while 21 per cent has two.
Our domestic travel is responsible
for around 20 per cent of Scotland’s
greenhouse gas emissions while
flights abroad account for a further
five per cent of total emissions.
But now a new Scottish
Government campaign aimed at
encouraging us all to become a little
bit more ‘green’, is asking whether
we could rethink our love affair
with the car and learn how to get
around again without costing the
The national ‘go greener’
campaign is aimed at helping
Scotland reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 42 per cent by 2020
and 80 per cent by 2050.
At its heart is a series of short
films presented by comedian Phil
Kay, which point out the ‘Stupidly
Simple’ changes we could make to
help cut down food waste, conserve
energy, reuse more of what we have
and recycle what we don’t need – as
well as release our grip on the car
According to Dr Andrew Murray,
Physical Activity advisor, Royal
College of Physicians and Surgeons
of Glasgow, ditching the car in
favour of walking or cycling won’t
just help the environment, it helps
our bodies too. And with one in
three journeys in Scotland less than
a couple of miles, surely it can’t be
“Your body is made to move,” he
says. “Scotland has been inhabited
for 14,000 years and historically we
have always been active.
“Initially that was having to catch
food or avoid being eaten, more
latterly as part of work. But now
many of our jobs are desk based. So
we need to take action ourselves.”
Medical research has recently
suggested that sitting down too long
every day is a modern health hazard,
increasing our risk of heart disease,
some cancers, diabetes and stroke.
Walking for just 30 minutes per
day could add as much as seven
years onto our lives.
“Walking and cycling are among
the best things you can do for your
health,” adds Dr Murray.
“And helping your kids be active
is one of the best presents you can
“Children who walk or cycle
regularly get better marks at school,
are happier, and are healthier.”
Being active out of the office is
vital, but at work, simple changes
like holding internet ‘hang out’
sessions rather than travelling to
meetings or working at home, all
help cut down our travel emissions.
According to Christopher
McGinnis, chair of the 2050 Climate
Group, which aims to give the 18 to
30s a voice on climate change issues,
even tiny changes make a difference.
Fewer car journeys and cycling or
walking instead has a triple impact –
on your pocket, your health and
the planet, says Sandra Dick
Tips of the week
One in three
car journeys in
Scotland is less
than two miles
ackie Barlow, 45, lives with
husband David, 41, and
daughters Rachel, aged nine and
Elinor, 14 months. They live in a flat
in Pilrig, Leith.
Jackie is always on the go, whether
it’s dropping off her daughter Rachel
at school or picking up toddler
Elinor from her mum.
Factor in work, supermarket
shopping and the usual weekend
dash to the girls’ clubs and sports
sessions, and the miles behind the
wheel of the family car add up.
While she’d love to ease off
the pedal, time, distance and the
convenience of driving, make it hard
to see how she’d ever manage.
“If I had a faster way to get
around, I wouldn’t be that fussed
about using the car,” she says. “But
it’s useful. Plus I find it really hard to
work around childcare without it.
“My sister and brother-in-law
haven’t had a car for years, they do
everything on foot and part of me
would love to be like that.
“But if I need to do something
quickly, get the kids somewhere fast,
then I need the car.”
Like many busy families, the
Barlows have two cars. Jackie is
normally behind the wheel of the
Case study Weekfive
Make Scotland Greener is
a partnership between The
Scotsman and the Scottish
Government which provides
practical ways for families to be
more environmentally friendly
“CO2 emissions from transport are
responsible for approximately a
quarter of the UK’s domestic CO2
emissions, with over 90 per cent of
this from road based transport,” he
“Car sharing, more regularly
using public transport, or walking
or cycling to work, can make a big
difference and will motivate others
to do the same. Such actions can
also lower travel costs, improve
health and reduce the volume of
traffic on our roads.”
If motoring is really the only
option, habits such as maintaining
a steady speed and avoiding
unnecessary accelerating or braking
will help cut emissions. Opting to
car share or use a car club, which
involves borrowing a car only when
you really need it, means fewer cars
on the roads.
Public transport – by bus, train
and tram – offers a greener option
than the car, while cycling is even
better. And if your pedalling skills
are rusty, Cycling Scotland (www.
cyclingscotland.org) can help.
“Walking or cycling short journeys
you can get the happy hormones
going, and it’s great for the
environment too,” says Dr Murray.
Find out how to travel ‘greener’ by
2. 27 June 2015
If we all cut our
by five miles,
the CO2 saved
works out the
same as taking
cars off the road
for a year
Take the train to
of flying and
of C02. For a
family of four
that works out
at a saving of
500kg of CO2,
more than you’d
save by installing
a solar water
in your house
Jackie and David
Barlow with their
Rachel’s clothes and toys for Elinor.
And school pinafores and skirts are
so cheap I just get them new.”
When it comes to ‘make do and
mend’ Jackie leaves it to her mum,
who’s a whizz on Jackie’s sewing
machine. And while she reuses jars
for jam, she tends to dump plastic
bottles in the recycle bin rather than
reusing them. At least there’s new
life for old yoghurt tubs and small
boxes as works of art during craft
sessions with the girls.
One area Jackie has cracked is
food waste. “I used to throw things
out when they were approaching the
best before date. Then we had some
sessions at work with the Love Food
Hate Waste people (run by Zero
Waste Scotland) who explained the
difference between best before and
use by dates.
“I know now that use-by is about
food safety and that you mustn’t eat
food after this date, and that best
before is about food quality. I feel
much more confident about food
She has also learned to love her
freezer, thanks to television cook
Mary Berry. “I downloaded her Cook
Now Eat Later book and cook double
batches of things and freeze them –
I’m a convert! It’s about saving time
and not wasting things. I’m now
using my freezer properly.”
Keeping her home warm and
cosy for the children and tackling
a bottomless laundry basket could
gobble up energy. But Jackie’s bills
are kept low thanks to heat from the
flats below, while a tendency not
to use gadgets or watch too much
television keeps electricity use to a
Jackie says there’s one appliance
which isn’t ideal but – like the family
car – she’d find hard to let go.
“I do use the dishwasher ,” she
says. “I’m busy... and it’s just one of
those things that you get used to.
“It’s all about saving time.”
family’s Audi A3 while their seven
seater Vauxhall Zafira is usually
parked outside their home.
“We use it for holidays and
days out more than anything,”
adds Jackie, who works in human
resources for a firm based in
Granton. “David cycles to work, he
finds it quicker to head along the
cycle paths from Pilrig to the Gyle
than trying to drive. Plus he really
Jackie takes the car for the short
school run knowing she would
probably be quicker on foot. She’s
far from alone – around a third of all
car journeys in Scotland are under
“It’s only a five minute walk to
school – it’s probably faster to walk
than take the car as there are four
sets of lights to get through. But then
I’d have to get two buses, then walk
for 10 minutes to get to work. So I
drop Rachel, and drive.”
The larger vehicle comes in handy
when they head north on holiday – a
favourite destination is Orkney – or
down south to the Lake District.
The family pick up ‘green points’
for opting not to travel by air on
holiday, and they also try hard to
recycle and reuse what they have.
It’s not always easy.
“There’s a nine years gap between
the girls, so it’s a difficult to reuse
Laura McGadie (inset) is Head of Home Energy
Scotland at Energy Saving Trust.
The easiest way for the Barlow family to immediately
save money and reduce their environmental impact
would be to drive fuel efficiently: driving a little
slower, avoiding harsh braking and acceleration, and
ensuring their tyres are at the optimum pressure.
Downloading the FuelGood app
would provide them with tips to
start saving money immediately.
Their second car is rarely
used. With petrol, insurance,
road tax, servicing, depreciation
and parking permits, the cost of
running cars can add up to thousands
of pounds per year, so they may want to consider a
The City Car Club in Edinburgh has around 20
cars available within the Leith area and is currently
introducing electric cars to its fleet which could also
give the family a chance to test this technology. With
fuel costs around 80 per cent less than the average
petrol car, it could be worth considering in the future.
By cycling to work, Mr Barlow ticks the boxes of
saving money, getting exercise, being healthier and
reducing his carbon footprint. Cycling Scotland advise
that being in a car exposes you to around 25 per cent
more pollution than if you are walking or cycling.
Mrs Barlow might try to find out if fuel costs could
be shared with someone in the area doing similar
journeys. Edinburgh Liftshare (https://edinburgh.
liftshare.com/default.asp) offers a free resource to
connect people driving similar journeys. Or she could
investigate the cycle route (Sustrans website – www.
sustrans.org.uk/scotland) as it may take little or no
extra time to cycle compared to driving. It could also
be a great way to encourage their daughter into
cycling by cycling the school run.
Home Energy Scotland’s advisors offer free, expert
and impartial advice about energy savings and the
support and funding available. Call 0808 808 2282 or
Ylva Haglund (inset) is an expert in consumer
behaviour, marketing and
environmental policy with Zero
It’s great to see a family
incorporating reuse into their daily
lives the way the Barlows are.
Perhaps Mrs Barlow’s mum could
try teaching nine-year-old Rachel
some simple clothing repairs, it could be a fun thing
for them to do together, plus it would give Rachel a
chance to customise her own clothes.
Mrs Barlow found advice from our Love Food Hate
Waste campaign useful for tips like making best use
of the freezer. Don’t forget most things can be frozen
from the day of purchase, right up to the useby date,
this avoids having to eat things up all at once.
To avoid buying too much, they should check the
cupboards and make a list before heading to the
supermarket it helps focus on what you really need.
Making a meal plan is also good, especially if you
can’t shop daily, to give a realistic idea of quantities.”
Zero Waste Scotland’s work includes promoting
recycling, re-use and repair, and helping people to live
greener lives by cutting food waste.
Make Scotland Greener
Experts’ view Week five
The Scottish Government has
produced a series of short films
aimed at encouraging us to rethink
our habits. Go to www.scotsman.
com/gogreener to watch the videos
and for ideas, tips and advice