During the rush of the Easter bank holiday weekend, I stumbled across the Edinburgh International Science Festival’s Ecoville. Nestled neatly on The Mound next to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, this EDF Energy-sponsored event is in prime position to catch the eye of passers-by.
So, what is Ecoville all about?
Ecoville is a “family-friendly low carbon village” which has been designed to “inspire visitors of all ages to take steps towards an eco-friendly future”. It’s available to see in the centre of Edinburgh until Sunday 15th April.
What was on display?
There was a range of exhibits on offer, some of which were both more exciting and more realistic than others.
1. A solar panel showed the energy which could be gathered if solar power was widely used in Scotland. While I’ve only lived here for 18 months, I feel relying on the sun might be a little bit optimistic…
2. At the smaller end of the scale, we saw a toilet with a sink where the cistern should be. Using the water we’ve used to wash our hands to the flush the toilet seems like a no-brainer to me, but it wasn’t the most convenient item to use and would not work well, for example, for people requiring easy accessibility.
3. The item I personally found the most interesting was a sachet which let you know whether or not your food had actually passed its used by date. As its contents decompose at the same rate as the food itself, you can tell whether your food is in date just from rubbing the packet: if it’s flat, your food is in date – if it’s gone bumpy, it’s time to throw it away.
4. It wouldn’t be a discussion about a low carbon future without mention of electric transport! With an eye-catching vehicle on display from the Shell Eco Marathon, I chatted to the University of Strathclyde’s USEV team about their vehicles – one of which is powered by a Hydrogen Fuel Cell – and how best to market electric vehicles and other fuel-efficient transport to the masses. It’s not going to be easy (we agreed there are some petrolheads out there who will never be convinced!) and there’s certainly not a simple answer available, but there’s definitely an enthusiasm there which I haven’t quite seen yet for other types of technology.
Did I leave feeling inspired?
Although the event has been criticised for accepting sponsorship from Edinburgh Airport and other, not particularly ‘green’, companies, it provided a simple, accessible snapshot of the changes people can make to contribute towards a low carbon, new energy future.
I’m not an energy expert, unlike my colleagues at Delta-ee, but it feels like there is definitely a buzz in the air about the changes the ‘average person’ can make to collectively really make a difference. It was also pretty fun playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on bits of junk metal…