Student co-op praised for re-use efforts

A pioneering community co-operative led by Edinburgh students has won a prestigious award.

Image of SHRUB team

SHRUB, Edinburgh’s Swap and Reuse Hub, is the UK’s first student-led registered co-operative, promoting re-use of items and materials.

It has now been awarded a Green Gown award for its approach to social enterprise.

Reducing waste

SHRUB started out nine years ago when university students and staff in the Accommodation, Catering and Events department were looking for new ways to reduce the amount of waste which occurred in halls of residence at the end of every academic year when students went home for the holidays.

Nowadays, that waste is collected, sorted and stored, ready to give to the following year’s students.

Volunteer network

Volunteers from the University and the community run a Swap Shop open to all in the city, plus regular upcycling and bike maintenance workshops and educational events, with many volunteering opportunities. 

A food-sharing network collects excess food from local businesses and shares it out.

Classes on practical repair and re-use techniques are particularly popular.

Circular economy

Over the past eight years, SHRUB has diverted 63 tonnes from landfill, saved 1,500 tCO2e, run over 1,000 workshops with thousands of students and community participants, and saved more than £35,000 in disposal costs.

Our vision is of a Swap and Reuse Hub that is a community-led co-operative working for a world without waste. We focus on inspiring low-carbon lifestyles and encouraging a circular economy by learning and sharing skills to make a practical difference to the world we share.

Joe ThompsonProject Co-ordinator

Sustainable living

In the last three years, with the help of the University and funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, SHRUB has grown into a community hub for sustainable living.

It has also won an award from the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) for its collaborative approach to helping build a model for a low carbon circular economy in the heart of the city.

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