Over 15 years ago we created The Edinburgh Charity Shop and Reuse Map to provide a comprehensive guide to donating and buying from charity shops and reuse projects in Edinburgh. Through funding from Zero Waste Scotland via the European Regional Development Fund, we then developed the Leith Reuse Map for the now-complete Zero Waste Leith project. Like The Edinburgh Charity Shop and Reuse Map, the Leith Reuse Map sought to provide a wide-ranging guide to reuse, recycling and repair services in Leith.

A new opportunity

In December 2020, an exciting new partnership with City of Edinburgh Council allowed us to bring both maps together to create the Edinburgh Reuse Map, as part of a city-wide digital feasibility study to develop an online community engagement platform and facilitate a circular economy for Edinburgh. The aim was to encourage residents to shop second-hand, donate locally and fix used goods rather than buying new; ultimately to build a circular economy for Edinburgh. Our Low Carbon Communities Team and 6 dedicated volunteers have been working hard since December 2020 to develop the final map and have assembled 350+ Edinburgh based reuse, repair, or recycling organisations.

Our hard-working volunteers worked to contact local businesses in Edinburgh and manually gathering data to add organisations to the map. The map relaunched at the end of December 2020, just a week before Scotland went into the second lockdown, which caused challenges as many of the organisations were closed due to Government restrictions and the order to stay at home. Although the challenges directly affected how people would use and interact with the map, our steadfast volunteers welcomed the opportunity to reduce consumer waste and targeted their research to sustainable Edinburgh-based organisations, that were offering COVID secure services.

Hundreds of entries

Despite the challenges the team and volunteers faced in both research and promotion of the map due to restrictions to non-essential retail, the Edinburgh Reuse Map has become a content-rich online directory and search tool of over 350 reuse and repair shops and facilities in Edinburgh – watch this space, our dedicated volunteers have another 150 organisations up their sleeves!

Naoise Luke, Changeworks volunteer, said:

"My role in data collection has meant I now know the city better than ever before - in fact, it has made me even more excited for lockdown restrictions to ease so that I can pop into all the incredible charity shops, businesses and social enterprises I have learned about through my research. As an MSc Environmental Sustainability graduate, It has been so fulfilling to facilitate, even in the tiniest way, a shift to a city-wide circular economy. I also got a real buzz hearing that the new cohort of Environmental Sustainability students at University of Edinburgh have already been independently sharing the updated Reuse map amongst themselves in their group WhatsApp!

I am delighted to have contributed to the development of this resource - one I am sure will help to simultaneously reduce consumer waste and drive engagement with sustainable Edinburgh-based organisations.”