Zero Waste Edinburgh Launch Party
In February, I started volunteering for SHRUB Swap and Reuse Hub, which is an Edinburgh-based co-operative organisation aiming to create a waste-free society.
On the 7th of March SHRUB launched their new Zero Waste Edinburgh programme, which is a two-year circular economy programme funded by Zero Waste Scotland. The event was held in a beautiful hall in Assembly Roxy, which was transformed into a colourful party with four different areas to explore. At the heart of the event was the large number of volunteers who made it happen – a true community effort.
Mini Swap Shop
The first area was a mini swap shop. SHRUB actually has a permanent swap shop in the heart of Edinburgh, but they also run small pop-up swap shops in other events and the local universities. The launch party guests were encouraged to take unwanted clothes or books with them and to exchange them for someone else's unwanted goods.
'One man's trash is another man's treasure.'
SHRUB has been working together with local student halls to organise picking up of unwanted items at the end of term to reduce waste, however due to the Zero Waste Edinburgh programme, SHRUB is also looking into organising a local wider-scale collection, not only for students but also for other local people.
The Food Sharing Hub
The second area was for the Food Sharing Hub - SHRUB's project, which aims to minimise food waste in Edinburgh. The project relies on a large number of volunteers who pick up excess food, usually from local bakeries and cafes, and redistribute the food to charities, other organisations and local people. Many bakeries cannot sell bread and other goods that have been baked the day before and so, this perfectly edible food would just simple end up in a landfill. In the event the Food Sharing Hub was in charge of the catering and giving out warm meals to the launch party guests.
The third area of the event was a Zero Waste Edinburgh Advocate Network, which aimed to map out local areas of interest and opportunity for circular economy and waste reduction. An important part of this project is to create a network of people working together to help the local community achieve significant waste reduction. A Zero Waste Edinburgh will be hard to create without a motivated community behind it.
Material Matters Workshops
Last but not least was the ‘Material Matters’ corner, which gave a preview of the programme’s focus on several different materials at a time during the two-year period. These materials range from textiles to bicycles and metals. The aim of the programme is to organise several upcycling and repair workshops for these materials and that way help the local community to reduce waste. In the launch event, guests could make a small container by using bottoms of empty plastic bottles, a bit of an old shirt and a small zip.
Although I personally love upcycling and crafts, I was left wondering which one would be better for the environment: upcycling a part of a plastic bottle and therefore eliminating a tiny bit of waste, or just recycling that plastic bottle and keeping the material within circulation. Beneficial for the environment or not, the workshop was also a great way to show how something that we consider waste can also have value.
The Zero Waste Edinburgh programme does not claim to touch upon all the loops of circular economy, but to concentrate on sharing, swapping, repairing, upcycling and recycling. By inspiring and supporting local people to take action and make a change in their lifestyles, Zero Waste Edinburgh is doing its part by ensuring that the local community is ready for circular economy.