Some of the positive stories coming our way
A Greener Wash
Environment Washing machines are heavy. That’s because there’s an average of 25kg of concrete inside them to stop them moving around when they’re on a spin cycle. And that means they’re not only difficult to move around in your home, they also cost a lot—in both fuel and carbon emissions—to transport.
But all this could be about to change thanks to a brilliantly simple invention by a team at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University.
Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and undergraduate Dylan Knight hit on the idea of replacing some of the concrete with a sealable plastic container that can be filled with water once the machine is in place. By doing this, the weight of a machine can be cut by a third. In the UK alone, this could mean a saving of around 45,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year when the machines are transported.
“Everyone thinks the idea must have been thought of before,” says Dylan Knight, 22. “No one can really believe it. But it definitely works.”
Stockholm’s Electric Bikes
Transport Stockholm’s long-running public bike-share scheme is getting a hi-tech update. The current 1,200 standard bikes will be replaced by 5,000 hybrid electric models. It’s believed to be the world’s first hybrid bike-share scheme, and will allow users to travel longer distances than they might have done before.
“When you register, you are given a small battery which you can charge at home,” says Daniel Helldén, the city’s vice-mayor of traffic. “If you don’t want to use the battery, you just use the bikes like a normal bike, but if you want an electric one, you connect the battery, which is included in the normal season ticket price.”
Meanwhile, in Rome, where a bike-sharing scheme failed partly because of the city’s hilly topography, the city council has unveiled a fleet of zero-emission scooters in a new rental scheme.
Masterpieces at the Airport
Culture Passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport can now get a taste of the Netherlands’ artistic heritage without leaving the terminal. A new exhibition space courtesy of the city’s Rijksmuseum displays original works by painters from the Dutch Golden Age such as Jan van Goyen, Willem van de Velde the Younger and Abraham Mignon. The show is free and is located in Schiphol’s renovated Holland Boulevard leisure zone.
Pensioner Saves Coach Party From Plunge
Heroes The 43 tourists traveling by coach over the Austrian Alps were enjoying the view when suddenly potential catastrophe struck. The driver fell ill and collapsed into the aisle—and the coach began heading straight toward a 100-meter deep ravine.
French pensioner Gilbert Sand, 65, didn’t think twice. The retired forest ranger leaped from his front-row seat and jammed his foot on the brake pedal. In doing so, he fractured his tibia, but saved the coach party. He had acted just in time. “According to the experts, another 20cm and the coach would have toppled over the edge,” says Sand.
“It was a hair’s breadth from catastrophe,” says a police spokesman. Sand is very modest about what he did: “I didn’t think about it. I just acted instinctively.”
Sources: Environment: NTU, 4.8.17. Transport: The Local (Sweden), 27.9.17; The Local (Italy), 28.4.17. Culture: Lonely Planet, 8.9.17. Heroes, The Local (France), 24.9.17