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Communities strike the right note for circular economy

This week (10-18 March) is our national Pass It On Week, which puts communities across Scotland at the heart of efforts to promote circular economy behaviour change.

Iain Gulland | 12 Mar 18

Our Zero Waste Town projects in Edinburgh, Leith and Perth are all getting involved as well as many groups we support through our partnership with the Climate Challenge Fund.  As well as swap shops, donation drives, second-hand sales, upcycling and repair workshops, there’ll be educational talks, presentations and awareness events. 

We’ll also be working with many other dynamic community groups and other partners including local authorities, businesses, schools and universities who’ll help us spread the word far and wide about the benefits of re-use. 

One of the great strengths of Pass It On Week is that it allows consumers to experience re-use first hand.  Seeing it in action can be a very transformative experience and you’d be surprised how many initiatives launched as part of Pass It On Week carry on through the rest of the year or translate into permanent fixtures. Initiatives such as our clothing donation drive ‘The Empty Shop’ from Pass it on Week 2016, and 2017’s Big Electric Amnesty, continue to be taken forward in various forms both in this year’s event as well as throughout the year in communities across the country.

Re-use is a term that still needs traction. People often simply use the coverall term “recycling” for it, both in the media and in our own focus groups, and it would be easy to think that doesn’t matter. But re-use lies deeper at the heart of the circular economy than most other activities. It is also a cornerstone of the Making Things Last strategy, so it is really important that people “get it”. 

That is one of the reasons that we have chosen musical instruments as a core theme this year with our “Musical Instrument Amnesty” where we are joining forces with youth music groups across the country to receive donations of unwanted instruments.  The idea of a musical instrument lying silent is a poignant one. Everybody understands the value and the potential of an instrument in the hands of someone young and enthusiastic. They can see the importance of passing it on. It’s a great idea to be doing in this Year of Young People.

Educating people about one form of re-use they can understand will, I believe, lead them to start thinking about other things they no longer use that could be passed on. Estimates suggest that Scots are sitting on £3 billion worth of clothing and yet we still throw 30,000 tonnes of it into landfill per year, most of which could be re-used.   

Books, CDs, kitchen equipment, tools, furniture, bikes and a myriad of other items will be on the move this week and, seeing others actively picking them up to re-use, repair or upcycle will help consumers take stock of exactly what they have in their homes and its value to the rest of the world.

One of the most heartening things about Pass It On Week is that most of the activities we see are genuinely good fun and allow neighbourhood and workplace communities to really engage with one another. People take a fundamental pleasure in giving, as well as acquiring, and what could be better than seeing   members of your community appreciating and enjoying something that you might, otherwise, have considered waste?

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