'Just so you know, I usually give these talks to primary school children!' exclaimed Hannah, Changeworks representative and our guide for the session. Despite this, she coped admirably with the barrage of questions from fifteen informed and engaged LCVers, adroitly turning her prepared presentation into an interactive discussion.
Changeworks is a local organisation which started in 1989 as Lothian and Edinburgh Environmental Partnership (LEEP) and — along with Scotland-wide services for business recycling, home energy advice and renewable energy consultancy — they give talks in the Waste Education Cabin at the Seafield Community Recycling Centre. This is where we started our tour.
After a brief introduction we were asked to estimate the proportions of waste discarded into landfill which could be reused or recycled instead. This led to an animated discussion as we all shared our knowledge, questions and observations. We covered topics such as our collective disappointment that Edinburgh City council doesn't recycle all types of plastic while Midlothian and East Lothian councils do; the best place to recycle shredded confidential waste (the food waste caddy, interestingly) and that any shop which sells batteries is obliged to supply a means of battery recycling.
Next, we donned hard hats and hi-vis jackets, some of the latter being a little on the snug side for us grown-ups.
First we made our way into the Reuse Cabin. This is where unwanted household items can be deposited for later collection by local charities such as Bethany - although not by Lothians Conservation Volunteers, we were sad to learn.
Then it was off for a tour of the skips, all helpfully labelled to make recycling as straightforward as possible. As this was an evening excursion the recycling machinery was idle. Nonetheless we were still able to marvel at the digger with its crusher attachment, our enthusiasm for this piece of equipment possibly rivalling the most lively of Hannah's school groups.
As we walked we were accompanied by a chorus of birdsong and enjoyed a view of Arthur's Seat, these local examples of biodiversity reminding us why sustainable waste management is so important. Finally it was back to the cabin for a short video of waste being sent to landfill, a salutary reminder, if any were required, of the need to minimise our non-recyclable waste.
Thanks to Rachael for organising this fascinating trip and to Hannah and Changeworks for their expertise.