Changeworks was awarded funding in 2017 from Zero Waste Scotland with support from the European Regional Development Fund to create Zero Waste Leith, a community-based project looking to inspire zero waste action in the Leith area.

Creating a community event

According to Zero Waste Scotland, 74 per cent of Scotland’s carbon footprint can be attributed to consumption of products and materials. Yet in our survey of Leith residents in 2019, 43% of respondents said they share materials ‘very little’. When asked what they thought would help Leithers to reuse items, the most popular choice (69 per cent) was a furniture street swap. Borrowing or hiring items rather than buying new significantly reduces our resource consumption, so in October 2019 Changeworks organised a street swap on Albert Street which encouraged residents to donate unwanted furniture and take them home for free.

Working with local partners and volunteers

We teamed up with the Edinburgh Remakery and the City of Edinburgh Council who collected any remaining items. The event was promoted through posters, social media, and word of mouth. A team of volunteers and staff facilitated the swapping and signposted visitors to further information.

At the event, 43 items were received. 17 were re-homed within the street, and another 19 items were taken for reuse by the Edinburgh Remakery. Only seven items were collected by the Council for disposal, mainly mattresses which the Remakery could not make use of.

The 'feel good' factor

The event attracted 90 visitors in four hours, despite torrential rain and horrendous conditions. Half of those were from Albert Street itself, with the other half from the surrounding area. The event also generated Zero Waste Leith’s most popular post on Facebook, reaching more than 29,000 people with 2,260 post clicks and 934 reactions and shares. People at the event resoundingly commented that this was a great idea, with many asking when the next event would happen and appreciating the ‘feel good’ factor and feelings of neighbourliness which it promoted. One local resident said:

“I’ve just moved into my new flat so we are looking for furniture. Nice to see that everything is free and I didn’t have to fill in any forms! When is this happening on my street?”

Changeworks and its partners are keen to organise more furniture street swaps across Edinburgh. Get in touch to nominate your street!

European Regional Development Fund logo