Across Scotland, many individuals and groups are already taking action on climate change.
Each has a vital role to play in building engagement, identifying local needs, challenges and opportunities, and encouraging people to help make where they live a better place for them and future generations.
Some of the best ideas and solutions for tackling climate change have come from citizens and communities.
Find out more about some of the great work already happening in our communities across Scotland and the impact their work is having.
ReTweed is a social enterprise based in the fishing town of Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders.
The organisation is seeding positive environmental, social and economic change in the community by investing in women’s skills, knowledge, and confidence, through its innovative training programme upcycling, reusing and repurposing textiles into original furnishings, fashions and crafts for sale.
Through upcycling, they divert textile waste from landfill into the local economy, directly contributing to a more sustainable future. And by raising awareness, they change the culture around them to actively promote climate citizenship.
“Local groups are often best placed to influence the green behaviours and attitudes of consumers. We can show at a grassroots level that local changes do have a global impact. We know that people are influenced by the behaviours of those around them, so why not be a source of positive change and lead by example? By changing our own behaviour, we can influence at least five other people around us, and they each in turn can influence another five and the circle of influence increases. It doesn’t take a grand gesture or expensive equipment to make a difference." Nicky Francey, Chief Officer
"The simplest of adjustments in our everyday lives, when multiplied by many people, has a huge impact. Also, it’s great to make a positive source of change in your own community." Nicky Francey, Chief Officer.
Perth Bike Station
The Bike Station’s mission is to develop environmentally sustainable communities by empowering people to have greater freedom of movement. By refurbishing, recycling, and reusing donated bikes and through its communities programme, they enable healthier, happier, and more affordable journeys.
Annually, Perth Bike Station saves over 5,000 bikes from landfill and provide over 2,500 people with affordable refurbished bicycles.
“Local community groups are valuable and essential. They are experts in their community, understanding the lives and experiences of locals and the challenges and opportunities faced by the community. Communities are well-positioned to focus on local changes whilst contributing to the overall movement towards social and environmental change.”
The organisation works with several different communities, including youth groups, employability charities, all-ability cycling groups, prisons, universities, nurseries, and workplaces.
Peebles Community Trust (PCT)
Reuse Hub Peebles was born on June 2020 in response to the national clear-out during lockdown, when recycling centres and charity shops were closed.
“Climate change is an emotive subject and we are all engaged on different levels. The message to stop items going to landfill is embraced in our community demonstrated by the response to the Reuse Hub Peebles project and recognises a need for more support to maximise potential and a recognition that communities are doing well to find local solutions. Where we live there is a model that suits the people and place. Communities can be fast and flexible where national groups struggle." Alex Wilson, PCT Coordinator.
The hub’s mission is to stop items reaching landfill, to promote borrowing-not-buying, and encourage locals to look in Reuse Hub Peebles before buying new - removing the barriers that create landfill by providing repair sessions, space to move things on, transport to re-home large items, and a library to lend things
“A vehicle that engages the community around valuing resources and presenting options to reduce consumption no matter where individuals are on the journey of change can only be a positive." Alex Wilson, PCT Coordinator.
This project sits under the Peebles Community Trust umbrella - an anchor organisation that supports community action for change.
Helensburgh Nappy Library
Helensburgh Nappy Library aims to reduce the number of disposable nappies going into landfill by supporting and encouraging families to make the switch to reusable nappies.
The group hire out reusable nappies kits to families in the local community to try at home and hold regular meetups to inform people about reusable nappies.
“I think local community groups can influence the green behaviours and attitudes of consumers by tailoring their marketing to the local area and its people. I also feel it is important to tie our promotions into other green events which are happening locally for example beach cleans and Plastic Free Helensburgh’s events, including The Great Big Climate Week.” Louise McLean, Helensburgh Nappy Library Volunteer.
It is very easy to feel a sense of disconnect from some of the issues facing us nationally. For example, rising sea levels may not feel as high priority for someone who does not live near the sea. Local community groups can tailor their aims to match their local environment. People will be more inclined to change their behaviours if it affects them and their local environment most." Sarah Barlow, Helensburgh Nappy Library Lead Volunteer.
Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and development trust working locally to combat the climate emergency, tackle fuel poverty and food insecurity, and bring people together for a more sustainable Kirkcaldy. The charity delivers a range of projects, events, and skills training to meet the needs and goals of local people – working towards a future where everyone can live better and tread more lightly on our planet.
Based in the heart of Kirkcaldy – with a community building, bike shop and garden – the team at Greener Kirkcaldy work with partners to deliver community projects across Fife.
“Community groups have great local connections and high levels of trust. That's a great basis for starting conversations about positive change.
Our work complements the national campaigns such as the Scottish Government's new Let’s do Net Zero campaign. We can never match their wide reach, but we speak in-depth to thousands of people each year, including many who might not be reached by the broader national campaigns." Suzy Goodsir, Chief Executive
Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE)
CFINE, based in Aberdeen, is helping the environment as well as tackling poverty and helping the disadvantaged and vulnerable. There are two main environmental strands to its work: reducing food and IT waste.
Through its FareShare project, they are re-distributing surplus food from the food industry which would otherwise go to waste. Instead, the food is redistributed to charities and community organisations who can use it to feed individuals and families experiencing food poverty. Currently, it operates seven community pantries, including two mobile pantries covering Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, diverting 1,314 tonnes of food between April 2020 and March 2021 (equivalent to 3,128,571 meals).
Since 2016 the organisation has worked with XS Resources and Re-Tek UK Ltd to collect and refurbish IT equipment including computers, laptops, tablets, phones etc. Items suitable for reuse are sold on or leased and CFINE receive part of the profit which is reinvested into community support services. Nearly 1,300 items have been collected, with an impressive 49% being reused.
“We want Aberdeen continues to lead the way around sustainable and environmental policy, and where this policy links strongly into the ambition that nobody should “go without”- food, fuel, or otherwise due to poverty, and that our food system no longer needs to consciously “design out” food waste, which harms our environment more than packaging waste, due to the actions being taken in these areas.” M. Carle – Sustainable Food Place Coordinator.
Repair Café Glasgow
Founded in 2017, The Repair Café Glasgow is helping to tackle our throwaway culture by offering a free repair service for everyday items – helping citizens to realise the financial and environmental benefits of repair, make-do and mend. Visitors to the café are also invited to watch and assist with the repair – transferring skills and building social cohesion, while reducing landfill size.
“It is clear our ‘throwaway’ society, fuelled by over-consumption of cheap goods, is totally unsustainable. Repair Cafés are a hands-on way to learn how this attitude fails both people and the planet and takes practical steps to do something about it.”
"By 2045 I'd love and hope that Glasgow's landfills see a huge reduction in size. There's a direct correlation between our purchase decisions and climate change. Going forward it’s essential that we support a circular economy that sees us buying less, making our items last longer (with the help of Repair Cafes like ours), buy used if we have to, and then at the end of a product’s life cycle to recycle it." Jon Dawes - Founder of Repair Café Glasgow.
Based in Muir of Ord, in the Highlands of Scotland, MOO Food aims is to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge, and confidence. The organisation is currently working on a project, titled Scran not Scraps, which is tackling food waste in the local community - working with individuals, organisations, businesses, and volunteers from the local area.
A community fridge project aims to distribute surplus food from local shops and supermarkets to save it from going to waste. Moo Food also educates local businesses including the local cafe to compost their organic waste as well as the local primary school.
In addition, the team at Moo Food is challenging household food waste through its Zero Waste Kitchen Challenge. This project aims to help anyone to reduce their waste over 10 weeks, educating householders on composting, storage and packaging, meal planning, and leftovers. It also encourages householders to share their surplus food with the local community.
“Our vision for Muir of Ord has been influenced by people within our community and they want us to be known as “The village that shares”.
“By increasing an awareness of food and the environment we are enabling the community to reduce its carbon footprint, increase environmental sustainability and support community resilience to achieve the goal set out by the community.” Karen Henderson, Chairperson, MPP Food.
The Selkie Collective
Based on the Isle of Skye, The Selkie Collective is an eco shop and women's community collective. The shop has a focus on eco, ethical, sustainable, and refillable products. The business wanted to be able to provide a choice of everyday items locally that produce little waste and have the environment in mind, through ingredients, packaging, and air miles.
The shop is more than just a shop, it’s a comfortable place to go and chat, share information, swap ideas, and be a place that champions small Scottish businesses and local community groups doing great things for the environment.
“Connection is our main ethos. We believe strongly that when you foster good connections with ourselves, our communities, and with nature it not only aids wellbeing but also makes great steps towards positive climate action.
“Local community groups can most influence green behaviors and attitudes because we can connect with our local community and have an understanding of each person's everyday struggles that might make it feel challenging to take environmentally conscious decisions. When we spend time together and listen, we can work together within a community to come up with impactful solutions together. It also makes people feel that the weight of making a difference isn't on them alone."
“Local community groups have the ability to focus specifically on the area they're in and really give people a reason to want to care about the environment where they live.” Emma Bee & Amy Bentall, The Selkie Collective.
New Start Highland
New Start Highland assists people in Northern Scotland who are experiencing poverty and crisis. The organisation supports people experiencing the greatest barriers in maintaining a tenancy, training for employment, and furnishing a home. It also promotes the benefits to the environment of sustainable waste management.
Part of its work includes a furniture and household item re-use service, which diverts waste items from landfill, and provides refurbished goods and household starter packs to people and families in need. In its drive to further reduce carbon emissions, New Start Highland refurbish bikes destined for landfill and offer programmes which encourage cycling.
“We see a future where people in Inverness live free from poverty, crisis, and are equipped to realise their potential. A community using electric bikes and cars. Public transport would be carbon free. Our homes will be energy efficient with built in “intelligence” to manage the efficiency of our home." James Dunbar OBE, Chief Executive.
Through its trading subsidiaries, New Start Highland generates income from commercial activities to support its charitable aims. It also has a chain of shops across the Highlands selling both new and refurbished items and has developed Unique Ness as an elite home interiors destination in Inverness.