Finding ways to adapt to our changing world is crucial to being able to meet the new challenges that face us. The cost of living, food prices, and energy costs are rising, putting families and communities under new strains – but the circular economy offers a mechanism to alleviate those pressures, whilst limiting the impact of climate change and emissions.
The circular economy promotes a method of only using the resources we need, and being smarter about what we use and how we consume it. In a circular economy, items are reused, repurposed, refurbished, repaired, and shared amongst people, reducing waste and consumption and helping us make the most of the assets we have. Working with our towns to help them bring these ideas into their homes and communities is key to being able to move towards becoming England’s first carbon-negative region.
The YNY LEP’s Circular Towns Guide offers a simple, flexible framework for communities looking to explore circular economy ideas within their neighbourhoods; it is free for anyone to access, but the LEP is trialling it with three towns across the region – Malton, Scarborough, and Selby. In our last blog, we explored the existing context of Scarborough and Selby, and why they decided to participate in the pilot scheme – in this update, we’ll explore the next steps for Scarborough, and what they’re hoping to achieve over the next few months.
Scarborough launched its commitment to become a Circular Town during Circular Yorkshire Week in October, and much of the initial few months has been spent scoping out potential opportunities within the area. David Stone, of Coast and Vale Community Action (CaVCA), has been heading up the initiative, which has recently drawn up its action plan for the next few years. Creating an action plan with a clear direction of travel is key to the success of any community initiative, as it helps provide structure that helps shape action and avoid projects fizzling out.
There is a clear appetite for sustainability amongst Scarborough residents – CaVCA held a Green Christmas Market in December to encourage people to think differently about their festive purchases. “The emphasis is on buying maybe less and buying locally sourced produce and handmade products and things that are basically good for the planet, good for nature and good for us,” explained David. The market attracted a lot of visitors, helping spread the word about Circular Scarborough, and CaVCA were able to make connections with many of the businesses attending, including local textile expert Carol Eves, who runs Material Moves, a fabric store in the town.
Carol’s ethos is based around creating more sustainable, longer-lasting clothing, and she runs various courses to help residents understand how to create, upcycle, and repair their own clothing, keeping textiles in use and moving away from the throwaway model of fast fashion. Carol is one of Circular Scarborough’s first Circular Champions, helping people engage with the circular economy in the community; you can read CaVCA’s blog on her business here.
Finding and building on those elements of the community that are already circular is a key part of Circular Scarborough’s action plan, and so one of the goals for the first year of the initiative is to explore opportunities for working with textiles in a circular way – such as growing flax locally that can then be processed into linen. “Heritage skills like spinning and weaving are key to being able to make the best use of our available resources,” David explained, “so I’m keen to showcase Scarborough’s crafting talent and explore how we can use these skills to become more circular.” You can read more about the project here.
CaVCA also host a zero-waste food café at their base in The Street – Surplus2Purpose, run by food-waste advocate Adam Smith. Adam has worked extensively with various food waste initiatives, including The Real Junk Food Project, and the new café offers plant-based meals made fully from surplus ingredients from the local area. It’s proven a hit with residents, who can choose to pay for their meal with time, money, or skills, and has become a community hub, and a great way of getting everyone involved in a greener, fairer, stronger, economy.