Edinburgh-based SHRUB co-operative is the winner in this year’s waste category of the Climate Challenge Fund Award. The co-op enables young people to swap, buy, fix and build projects with the aim of reducing waste.
SHRUB was set up in 2013 but students in Edinburgh have been swapping and redistributing objects since 2008. The idea for the project came from people Planet Project, a student network campaigning to protect the environment.
Since 2015, the co-op has continued to develop, having been funded by CCF and having the support of the University of Edinburgh’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability department.
Over the past few years, it has diverted 50 tonnes from landfill, saving 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) and run over 1,000 re-use and upcycling workshops. In 2016, Swap Shop activities saved 160 tCO2e while its food waste activities saved 111 tCO2e in 2016 and its transport/cycling activity saved 15tCO2e.
SHRUB workshops touch upon various topics, from fixing clothes to installing open software and building DIY solar panels. The co-op currently has over 330 members, with 1,000 people using the shop regularly and 3,800 attending workshops.
Volunteers play a key role in making the project a success with an estimated 12,500 hours of voluntary time committed by members and supporters in 2016. Following a change in membership rules, volunteers have free membership but can also be supporters if they wish and contribute to the co-op financially.
“The Edinburgh Creative Reuse Hub showcased excellent and innovative participative approaches to governance and project delivery, building community capacity and working collaboratively with numerous partners to maximise impact,” read the statement by the CCF Awards Panel.
A board member, Olivia Nathan, said she was “so pleased that their hard work on the co-operative governance had been recognised,” commenting that she was welling up when she and David Somervell – a fellow SHRUB member and volunteer – accepted the award.
This year has brought other accolades for the co-op, which has also been awarded a Green Gowns Award for Enterprise by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, and the Climate Challenge Fund’s Waste Award.
SHRUB has recently launched a Zero Waste Towns project aiming to reach 62,870 people in the Edinburgh South and Central area including students, university staff and local community residents, business and schools offering them support, skills and resources to generate a community where reduce, reuse, and recovery of materials is both the norm and a great option for them.
Fergus Whyte, a member of the board of directors, said: “We are excited to be launching our Zero Waste Towns project and, with the support of Zero Waste Scotland and our project partners, expanding our current reach further into the Edinburgh community.
“Working towards a circular economy is an important goal, and the SHRUB community feels privileged to be developing the skills of our local community to encourage the re-use and recovery of materials. Through circular economy workshops, a food waste supermarket and an advocate network we hope to build the enthusiasm and capacity that will enable our community to reduce Edinburgh’s waste and prolong the life of materials.”