The planet urgently needs our help. The scale of the challenges facing us is daunting, but we can all do something. Here are 7 simple ways you can help in the Edinburgh area.
1 Reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle
Every product we buy uses resources and could end up in landfill. Buy less and give away or sell what you don’t need. Think twice, especially when buying new clothes as the clothing industry has a massive carbon footprint.
- Buy and donate at our wonderful Edinburgh charity shops.
- We have excellent vintage shops where you can and buy sell clothing e.g., Armstrongs Vintage in Teviot Place and Grassmarket.
- Repair household items with the help of Edinburgh Tool Library, The Forge and the Edinburgh Remakery.
- Join online forums such as local WhatsApp groups, the Meadows Share, and the Olio app to donate or find free stuff.
- Use the City of Edinburgh Council food, garden waste and recycling collections: small electrical items, clothing (in a plastic bag) and batteries (in clear bags) can go into your glass recycling box for kerbside collection (more details here) . An uplift of up to five household bulky waste items costs only £5 per item. Garden waste can be uplifted fortnightly all year for an annual fee of £35; if you can’t afford this, you could share a garden waste bin with a neighbour.
2 Eat more sustainably and healthily
Food production contributes around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and has reduced biodiversity by almost 60%. A third of all food produced in the world is wasted.
- Eat as close to plant-based food as possible, reduce meat and dairy and avoid food waste.
- Reduce waste by buying just what you need, maybe shopping more frequently at local shops, such as community-owned Dig In Greengrocer. They buy from local and ethical suppliers, avoid plastic where possible and reduce food prices to avoid waste. Customers often donate free supplies of surplus herbs, fruit or veg they have grown!
- Support other ethical stores and local refilleries like Real Foods in Tollcross, The Refillery in Newington, Locavore on Gorgie Road and the New Leaf Co-op in Marchmont.
- Grow your own, even if it’s just herbs on the windowsill. Apply for an allotment or join a local community garden like The Grove.
3 Travel responsibly
Transport is one of the most polluting sectors.
- Walk, cycle, or use the bus or train whenever you can.
- Edinburgh has an excellent bus and tram network and a range of cycle routes; see Spokes and Sustrans for detailed mapping information.
- If you have to drive, save money and parking hassle by sharing a car with a neighbour, using the Enterprise Car Club scheme or joining the BANZAI Car Share scheme that also entitles you to rent other people’s cars UK-wide via Hiyacar.
- Avoid flying, especially within the UK. If you are heading to Europe, consider using the train/Eurostar (book in advance for cheaper fares and check Seat61), or take the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam.
- If you really must fly, use a good offset scheme, and avoid flying business class even if work is paying – it’s triple emissions!
4 Save energy and improve your home
Improving insulation and reducing the energy you use are key. There’s a range of immediate actions you can take:
- Reduce your thermostat by 1 degree and ensure your boiler is on the most efficient settings.
- Buy 100% renewable electricity e.g., Octopus or Ecotricity.
- Fit an induction hob.
- Are your doors, windows/shutters, floorboards, pipe entries etc. properly sealed? How’s your loft/underfloor insulation? Experts recommend ‘fabric first’ and ‘insulate tight, ventilate right’.
- If you’re considering substantial home improvements such as heat pumps or solar panels consult competent, independent retrofit assessors first.
- Check out the Edinburgh Building Retrofit and Improvement Collective and think about working collectively.
You can find more information about home energy saving measures in the BANZAI report Net Zero and Home Energy in Edinburgh.
5 Protect green spaces
Preserve space for wildlife, biodiversity, and water drainage. If you have a garden, small or shared, it can be a valuable contribution. If not, please help our beautiful public spaces.
- Avoid covering the ground with plastic grass or non-permeable paving slabs — this destroys all nature below and increases water run-off and flooding risk.
- ‘No Mow May’ allows grasses and flowers to flourish.
- Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies love lavender, sage and yarrow — and more.
- Avoid plastic pots (use clay/ceramic), harmful pesticides, slug poison and peat-based compost. Make your own compost if you have space.
- Build a small pond to support insects and invertebrates.
- Buy peat-free compost at garden suppliers such as Dobbies, Caledonian Horticulture, Tiphereth or the Inch Plant Nursery.
- Join Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (FOMBL) and organise litter picks in your street and area.
6 Bank and invest your money wisely £
Almost all adults in the UK use banks, and many save, and have a pension and a mortgage. Use your influence.
- Find out where your money goes and what your bank, credit card company and pension funds invest in. Request them to opt out of fossil fuels or threaten to withdraw. And then do it.
- Join with others to push Lothian Pension Fund members including the City of Edinburgh Council to divest an estimated £229m from fossil fuels.
It’s easy to switch to ethical banks e.g., building societies which only fund housing such as Nationwide, Skipton etc., or Triodos where you get great information on the projects you invest in.
Speaking up and joining with others is very powerful.
- Talk to friends, neighbours, and colleagues; encourage them to be aware and make changes.
- Vote every time for someone at every level who will make the environment a priority.
- Make your voice heard by joining in petitions, writing to politicians (they do notice!) and demonstrations.
- Join under our BANZAI banner or with other campaigners and protest with friends and neighbours!
- We recommend the Banzai WhatsApp group which we can all contribute to, as well as our email list which sends round occasional newsletters and important messages.
How can I get more involved?
- Stop Rosebank oil field — https://www.stopcambo.org.uk/
- Greenpeace — https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/
- Friends of the Earth Scotland — https://foe.scot/
- Extinction Rebellion — https://extinctionrebellion.uk/
- Just Stop Oil — https://juststopoil.org/
- Edinburgh Climate Action Network (ECAN) — https://sccan.scot/edinburghcan
- Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) — https://sccan.scot