#GreenFests: Swap Shop allows shows to be sustainable beyond the Fringe

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

The Fringe Swap Shop (formerly known as the Reuse & Recycle Days) is an established sustainability initiative run by The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, with support from Creative Carbon Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh. It occurs each year at the end of August and is a great opportunity for companies, individuals, and those that have participated in the Fringe to dispose of any unwanted props, sets and costumes in an easy, inexpensive and sustainable manner, whilst also sourcing new materials for future productions.

The sheer variety of materials available for collection mirrors the range and diversity of the Fringe itself. The Swap Shop quickly becomes filled with all manner of weird and wonderful objects, from a classroom whiteboard to motorcycle helmets, a comedy (or tragedy – who are we to limit your imagination?) door-on-wheels to a claw-footed bath tub and two three-seater sofas. There are also plenty of raw materials deposited, waiting to be re-purposed into whatever you desire. Wood, paper, plastic, and metal were all dropped off in force last year, as can be seen in our time lapse video of the event.

Whilst only Fringe participants are allowed to donate items, everyone and anyone is allowed to come and collect items of interest and use. The props and costumes are perfect for companies planning on putting on future productions, while the raw materials can be of great use to artists and craftspeople.

It is always interesting to hear what happens to the objects and materials after they’ve been picked up. For example, a jewellery designer based in Edinburgh took advantage of the 2014 event to collect several materials that she would have otherwise been unable to source within her budget. Packaging pellets, which cannot be recycled and would have had to be sent to landfill, were one of the key items the designer was keen to take back to her studio, where a community of ceramicists are constantly looking for ways to protect their products in transit. She also took home some select pieces of wood – a material that was donated in unprecedented amounts last year. She got back in touch with Creative Carbon Scotland to explain the outcomes of her visit:

Desk“I’m a self-employed jewellery graduate who is really struggling to afford the realities of setting up my own studio. The recycling day was a lifesaver as I managed to build my very own jewellery bench. With these costing upwards of £100 I couldn’t have afforded one but with the help of the Reuse and Recycle Days (and my dad’s building expertise) I now have a beautiful recycled bench all of my own and can begin working again. I also managed to get a few side tables that will be perfect for my studio and really help to make it feel more professional and organised.”

A theatre maker from Aberfeldy, Perthshire, was also enthused by materials he collected during the day. He told Creative Carbon Scotland of his plans to build a new theatre on the site of an old one that had been destroyed, using entirely reused and recycled materials. Items donated donating during the 2014 event included tens of small stools, all of which were taken back to Aberfeldy to be used for seating in this project.

Whilst we encourage people to take as much as they give (if not more!), any materials that are not picked up and re-homed are recycled by ScotWaste. This ensures that as little as possible is sent to landfill. We also donate any good quality pieces, especially furniture, to local charity shops making the Swap Shop good both for the environment and the community as a whole.

Although in previous years, the event has accepted paper for recycling, this year’s Swap Shop will focus on reusable goods. Keep an eye on this CCS blog for further updates in this area. 

This year, the Swap Shop will take place from Sunday 30th August to Tuesday 1st September 2015 from 11am to 6pm. For further details, click here.

Have you participated in the Swap Shop in the past? If so, we’d love to hear what you did with the materials that you collected. Please send your stories to kitty.dutton@creativecarbonscotland.com.

The post #GreenFests: Swap Shop allows shows to be sustainable beyond the Fringe appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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