Remakery in Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise which aims to educate people in the benefits of ‘making do and mend’, saving money and reducing raw material use and CO2 emissions at the same time. It also creates jobs and provides wider social cohesion.
Based on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk, a mile long stretch of independent shops, groceries, delis and pubs, the centre offers classes, advice and reconditioned equipment and furniture to the area’s socially and ethnically diverse population.
Ultimately, it is a cultural shift that the centre is aiming to address, reversing the trend for shiny, disposable gadgetry. Instead it aims to tap into some peoples’ discontent with being hoodwinked into needlessly replacing equipment with built-in obsolescence and buying software upgrades.
Classes are run in reuse and remaking and upcycling. Paid sessions are offered for comprehensive repair classes for computers and phones, and free drop in evening sessions offered for simple guidance. ‘Upcycling’ (adding value) of furniture is offered in the form of pyrography, ‘burning’ detailed designs onto furniture using a hot wire, and painting. The centre also offers the hosting of workshops to organisations, and has already done so for the local council.
The Remakery is the brainchild of Sophie Unwin, whose eyes were opened to wasteful practices when teaching English in Nepal for a year after her University degree. “In one year our household of six produced one bin-load of waste”. She thought, ‘if it can happen in Nepal, then why not in the UK’. After co-founding the first remade centre in Brixton, south London, Sophie revisited the concept after moving to Edinburgh a few years later. Having started with a small studio in the city centre, the Leith Remakery opened in early summer 2016.
The centre’s supporters include Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), a national initiative funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund, which awarded a grant in 2015. Priority waste streams for ZWS are IT equipment, furniture and clothing / textiles, which was fortunate.
As with any CBI, finances and management are the biggest challenges. Grants currently cover 50% of the Remade costs. The goal is to be financially self-sustaining by mid 2017. Finding board members is also a challenge, particularly those with suitable business experience.
Sophie doesn’t want to just “run a nice project in Leith”, and has greater ambitions. She sees a societal need to reconsider the basis of our throwaway culture and re-educate people. One step is to create a directory of local businesses offering repair services.
Once viable, the plan is to use the blueprint to open remade centres elsewhere on a ‘franchise’ basis, starting in Scotland, then wherever else is viable, including other European cities or towns.