The power of community action on display on island

The group of volunteers who make up the 'Incredible Edible Bute' group, working hard at Battery Place.
The group of volunteers who make up the 'Incredible Edible Bute' group, working hard at Battery Place.

Bute is known for being an island conscious of the ecological impact we have on our environment.

We are forever on the lookout for ways to reduce our waste, and we are not limited to doing this in our own homes. It is a conscientious outlook, and one that we can be proud of, as the strength of small community actions show how much we value where we live.

Fyne Futures' composting bays at Bute Produce.

Fyne Futures' composting bays at Bute Produce.

And where we live is certainly unique in many respects. Few places can claim to have the same breadth and variety of local producers and suppliers as we do on Bute, given the size of our island. Most high streets will be dotted with the same shops to the extent that you might not recognise one town from the next.

Part of Bute’s charm is in the heritage of it’s local shops. With two local butchers, two fishmongers, two grocers and the majority of businesses family owned, Rothesay is certainly a town of character.

These are supported by our local farms, giving our community an excellent opportunity to minimize their carbon footprint. Buying locally is a simple small action that you can do to support your economy and help the environment in the process.

Another good example of a small action having a wider impact is that of plastic reduction. This is something that has been in the news of late, with national and international companies publicly stating how they will reduce usage. That can certainly impact greatly, but we as an island still have our part to play- and doing so we have.

Some Bute firms are now proudly following suit and pledging to cut out disposable plastic utensils and straws from their business. Calmac have confirmed they will do similar on their ferries. In this way we can see that each small positive community action adds up to a greater change.

Another opportunity for waste reduction is that of food waste. This is something that many of us do without thinking about it. This isn’t necessarily a question of just whether or not you compost leftover organic matter. When you reuse your leftover potatoes for a potato salad, or put yesterday’s mince into tacos today, you are finding small ways to reduce your waste. It also saves you money too.

Whilst locally these changes seem little, they are being mirrored in a national scale, and plans are underway to expand upon them. The Scottish Government has recently appointed a panel of experts to fight our ‘throwaway society’, made from a variety of experts in the fields of business, science, education, retail, public sector and waste management. This panel has been charged with looking at many forms of waste, and finding ways that it can be tackled.

As an island there is certainly an appetite for waste reduction. For example, during 2015 at Bute Produce a food waste collection pilot took place, allowing biodegradable material to be uplifted from households and collected for composting. Of those who responded after the trial, 97 per cent said they would like to see the service continue, and all respondents said they felt that composting should be the preferred alternative to sending the waste to landfill.

Simple, small changes can be easy to make and are often about altering your habits. As a wider community however, or on a national level, they can be very empowering and can have a strong impact upon our environment.