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November 23, 2021

Sharing, repairing and networking 

With retailers pushing Black Friday offers and reminding us that this is the busiest and best time of the year to be buying more ‘stuff’, that low carbon lifestyle we talk about should be  pointing us in the opposite direction – where we mend things when they break and resist the incessant urge to own stuff ourselves but instead consider shared ownership. None of this transition is going to be easy which is why Circular Communities Scotland (formerly CRNS) is helping to establish a national network of repair cafes and sharing libraries. We’re all in this together.

Circular Communities Scotland

Circular Communities Scotland is delighted to announce we are looking forward to setting up and overseeing a nation-wide sharing library and repair café network. This is a £310,000 project, supported by Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland.

The network, which we intend to build to be self-sustaining, was announced by Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Michael Matheson at the WWF Pavilion in the Blue Zone of COP26 on Thursday the 11th of November 2021.

The scheme aims to significantly increase sharing and repair facilities across the country, in order to reduce consumption and offer Scottish communities sustainable and affordable alternatives to buying new. This aligns directly with our vision to see a thriving circular economy in Scotland, with communities benefiting from the social, environmental and economic impacts.

“For Scotland to combat climate change, we each need to change our own consumption behaviours. Sharing libraries and repair cafés provide simple and effective solutions to do this whilst reducing our carbon footprint.

“Rather than throwing an old item away we can repair it at a repair café, or even better, be taught the repair skills to fix it ourselves. Similarly, rather than buy a new product we can borrow one from a local sharing library. Everything from tools, clothes, toys, and equipment can be borrowed instead of being bought new, saving people money, whilst saving the planet.

“We are looking forward to overseeing and forming the new network and significantly growing the number of these projects in Scotland.”- Michael Cook, CEO, Circular Communities Scotland.

Circular Communities Scotland would also like to thank Edinburgh Remakery and Edinburgh Tool Library who supported our proposal, and with whom we will be collaborating to set up this scheme. We also look forward to working with them and the rest of our sharing and repair members to help strengthen their impact and replicate their collective success across the country.

The announcement that Circular Communities Scotland will run the sharing library and repair café network comes after CEO Michael Cook addressed Scotland’s Climate Assembly in early 2021, which released its full report this year detailing goals and recommendations for the Scottish Parliament to address climate change.

The overall goal to ‘reduce consumption and waste by embracing society wide resource management and reuse practices’ had 97% of assembly members voting in favour, the joint most popular goal. This project also responds to the specific recommendation supported by 92% of the assembly “… to establish a network of ‘Resource Libraries’ across the country, where people can ‘borrow’ high quality tools and equipment that are maintained and repaired by the library, rather than buying seldom used items themselves.”

Circular Communities Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland’s support for the Climate Assembly report and recommendations, shown in part through their funding of this circular scheme, focused on reducing consumption and waste.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Michael Matheson said:

“Scotland’s Climate Assembly called for action and I’m very pleased to announce that we will support the establishment of a network of resource libraries and repair cafes.

“Sharing libraries provide a direct reduction in consumption and emissions because they allow people to switch from purchasing and owning items to borrowing them instead. Repair cafes give people the skills to re-use their own items.

“This network also supports our drive to tackle poverty by giving lower income groups access to tools or equipment not otherwise available and the skills to use them, as well as reducing waste and emissions.”

CEO of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland, said:

“Scotland – and the world – urgently needs to address its consumption problem. The current demand on the planet’s finite, precious materials is unsustainable.

“The circular economy is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal. We can reduce our consumption by keeping existing materials in circulation and only buying new when absolutely necessary.

“Sharing libraries and repair cafes are not only great ways of implementing a more circular way of living, but an opportunity to get to know people and businesses doing amazing work in your community. We hope to see as many of these local initiatives come to fruition as soon as possible.”

Elaine Brown, CEO of Edinburgh Remakery said:

“The Edinburgh Remakery is delighted to be part of this exciting venture to bring repair skills and facilities to communities across Scotland.

“Learning to repair, reuse and value our belongings is essential to reduce waste and pollution, and in tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. The environmental benefits of repairing items instead of throwing them away are numerous, as are the social benefits to those learning valuable, practical skills which will aid them throughout their entire lives.

“We look forward to being part of this exciting initiative to help sustainable, circular economy practices flourish in our Scottish communities.”

Chris Hellawell, Founder & Director of Edinburgh Tool Library, said:

“Edinburgh Tool Library is delighted to be involved in supporting the establishment of more sharing libraries across Scotland. We have spoken to numerous organisations and individuals across the country, and the need for a structured network to support them has always been evident.”

“We are really looking forward to working alongside Circular Communities Scotland and the Edinburgh Remakery to share our experiences and support new and established groups to make sharing and repair of everyday items the norm.”

“Using sharing libraries is a straightforward way for us all to reduce our carbon footprint, whilst at the same time, saving money. We want to see a Scotland built on access, not excess.”

For more information about starting a sharing library or a repair café in your local community, please get in touch at