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Ideas for waste projects (Part Two)

Zero Waste Scotland supports the work of community groups through our Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme funded by Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support projects involving waste and circular economy activities, or installation of energy efficient measures in community-owned buildings.

Zero Waste Scotland recognises that behaviour change on issues around waste can often be most effectively achieved through community engagement at a local level.

We provide financial support (through the Climate Challenge Fund and our own funding streams) and have a range of materials, training and support available to help you take action on waste in your community.

Following on from part one, we’ve pulled together some more great ideas of waste-related projects you might want to consider in your area.

Swap Shops

Swap shops can be a one-off thing, a regular occurrence or a permanent facility.  R:evolve Recycle have 3 permanent clothing swap stores where you can take in your unwanted clothing items and exchange them for something new (to you).  

Student halls clear out

If you have a transient community such as students, you find that they need things for a limited amount of time (whilst they do their course) and then they often leave things behind as they are no longer needed. 

Organisations like SHRUB use the opportunity to clear out the student halls, and put items either into their ‘free shop’ for the next batch of students, into their permanent swap shop, or sell them.

Recycling promotion or provision

Promoting recycling services in your area and helping reduce contamination can be critical to helping the council.  Some organisations such as Fyne Futures go a step further and actually provide recycling services themselves.

Re-use cabin at the tip/recycling centre

Sometimes people don’t want to have to make a trip to the tip with one lot of waste, and a trip to the charity shop with another.  So setting up a re-use cabin at the tip/recycling centre is a great way to encourage more re-use.

Moray Waste Busters have a great site where people can drop off items that can be re-used just around the corner from the general council recycling/waste sections, and then pop and buy some 2nd hand items – all in the one trip.

Book re-use

Rather than selling a variety of items, Book donors have created a re-use social enterprise focusing just on books.  This allows them to offer a great selection for customers and a national pick up service for organisations wanting to dispose of books.  

Unfortunately, as at Feb 2020, Book Donors has gone into administration.  However, other similar services are available - use your preferred search engine to learn more.

Furniture re-use

Setting up a 2nd hand furniture store is a huge undertaking, but when done well, can make it so much more attractive for the public to buy 2nd hand rather than new.  Edinburgh Furniture Initiative has 2 great stores which show 2nd hand is not 2nd best.


Upcycling has become really popular and is a great way to show the public how to make a 2nd hand item into a classic one-off piece.  

New Start Highland have created their own upcycled brand – ‘Unique ness’ and opened a shop in a major shopping centre selling upcycled items and teaching workshops.


Many of us have forgotten how to do basic sewing and repairs, so a number of organisations such as LEAP and ReTweed are teaching people these skills and even how to make a living out of their new found skills.

Community Fridge

Community fridges are a great way for householders and organisations to share leftover food locally, helping to build community trust and engagement, and reduce food waste at the same time. A really helpful source of advice and information can be found on the Hubbub website.

These are just some ideas to inspire you but if you have other ideas please do feel free to discuss and share them with us. 

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