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COP26 Items Used In The Creation of a Winter Wonderland and Training Space for Scottish Chefs


When the 26th UN Climate Change Conference came to a close in November 2021, in Glasgow, we teamed up with Identity, a dynamic and energetic full-service events agency, and a number of fantastic local causes, to rehome and repurpose a diverse range of materials, from textiles and decorations to clothing, wood, carpet, insulation, and food.


Some items were easy to find new lives for. Others took a little more imagination. But within ten days of the event, we’d helped some great causes, and kept a vast amount of items out of landfill. We turned one man’s trash into another man’s treasure, while protecting the planet, and enhancing the quality of life for Glasgow residents, young and old.


Within the Blue Zone of the conference, there were two prominent areas that featured in the event’s news coverage, the Action Hub, where the iconic hanging globe was situated and the VVIP area which hosted the World Leaders and influential speakers on climate change.

The Action Hub was a designated space in the Hydro at the Scottish Event Campus and staged a variety of events from non-Party stakeholders. It was at the core of the Action Hub to hold events that were markedly different from other traditional meetings held at the conference, in both format and content, and the area provided a central scene that was inclusive, participatory and transparent. Talk shows, games, interactive activities and digital demonstrations made up much of the excitement in a previously empty area that was divided up into an innovative zone.


The same division of space was required to create the lounges, press conference rooms and offices for presidents, prime ministers and heads of state in the VVIP section. In order to create the individual rooms, arctic truckloads of set flats, mdf, plywood and doors were brought in but not wasted when they were finished with.


With our charity partners, all of the items were put to good use


We were delighted to support international aid agency Glasgow the Caring City by providing the entire fit-out of the Action Hub for them to put to some imaginative use.


Based in the multicultural city of Glasgow, this aid agency was first established in May 1999 with the aim of supporting children in crisis both at home and overseas. They achieve this by focusing on the key areas of health, education, and security, while working in partnership with local communities, for a sustainable future. Recent initiatives have included the setting up of the Football For Life program in South Africa and the Give A Kid A Goal project in Scotland. The inspiring results are shared on the Glasgow the Caring City website.


An assortment of items including set flats, mdf cut sheets, circular mdf discs, fabric stage skirting, and stage carpet, were carefully removed from the show and transported to the charity, less than a mile from the venue. They were gratefully received, with the charity workers using the wooden set flats in the creation of a Winter Wonderland experience. Initially open for free to 300 local kids, the experience was then opened up to all local primary & nursery schools and community groups before Christmas. Keeping to the festive theme, the circular ceiling discs were painted with charming winter scenes.


Coming into the New Year, the grotto has since been dismantled, with the materials being reconstructed into a studio space. One studio is set to be used both as a space for food hygiene training and preparation for the upcoming food festival. This will give young students the opportunity to apply their training in a commercial setting. Another space is going to become a music studio, while two others are set to feature expanded art gallery areas.


Additionally, two new soundproofing booths were created for the use of the local community. Other flats have been used to extend the fitness suite and gym for women-only exercise spaces, classes, and changing rooms. And the carpet has been used for music studio and gym soundproofing.


We are looking to maximise the community benefit from all the fixtures and fittings from all the COP26 venues. There will be a range of benefactors from families who are homeless and moving into homes, schools, community organisations and art groups. We know that from the COP26 blue zone we have 90 sheets of MDF and 90 sheets of plywood which equates to about £25,000 worth of value. That will save community organisations in the city purchasing that. It allows groups to carry out their projects without having to dig into their own pockets."
Ross Galbraith, Glasgow the Caring City

Ross Galbraith

GTCC also received a number of wooden trees that had been used as the backdrop for the World Leader’s photo opportunity and handshake area in the VVIP section of the Blue Zone. These were featured in the Winter Wonderland experience with the remainder of the wooden trees going to a local school, where they were used to display their eco pledge and key environmental principles to educate pupils on climate change.

Read the full BBC article here


You can also listen to Ross talk about the donation on BBC Radio Scotland...


From heads of state to mental health

The first fantastic cause to benefit from the VVIP items was Springburn Park Men’s Shed, a charity that provides recreational facilities (somewhere great to hang out) and advances the social needs, health, and well being of men of all ages and backgrounds living in the Springburn Park area of Glasgow (finds them meaningful things to do, that put their awesome skills into good use, for the benefit of themselves, and others).


For men who might otherwise be isolated, with under-used skills and low motivation, Springburn Park Men’s Shed is a lifeline, bringing them together with other fellas to get involved with creative, physical, and purposeful activities, helping them find purpose, and a sense of community. Whether they’re helping a local hospice put on an event, or decorating a community hub, Men’s Shed men are always gainfully employed, and the effects of their work send a ripple of positivity throughout the community, often helping those facing deprivation or crisis.


As well as offering an obvious range of health benefits, the Men’s Shed is also a place for men to meet other like-minded guys with similar interests, grow their circle of friends, and enjoy new activities like woodworking and metalworking, music classes, and social events.

As part of this project, we were able to donate a number of wooden set flats, doors, and fabricated counters to Springburn Park Men’s Shed, which had been used to create the VVIP meeting rooms, offices, and lounges that hosted the World Leaders during COP26, along with 1400 linear metres of fabric, and 4 oak topped counters.


The items we sent their way didn’t have an immediately ‘obvious’ use and required a little knowledge, skill, and imagination to repurpose. Luckily, Springburn Park Men’s Shed had the creative vision and technical skills, along with the patience required to find a couple of projects that got the best out of items that would, ultimately, have ended up in landfill for all eternity.


They were contacted by Robin House Children’s Hospice at Balloch, who asked them to build a large Santa sleigh in time for their Christmas party. A group of skilled and enthusiastic workers from the Men’s Shed were able to craft an amazing sleigh using donated materials, much to the delight of the kids with life-shortening illnesses, and their families, who are supported by the hospice.

Springburn Men’s Shed will also be using some of the panels and doors to build a new entrance for Springburn Community Hub, and are using the donated paint to decorate the interior of Springburn Parish Church. They’re also in talks to use some more of the panels to build a changing room for a local drama group and to create mobile wall mirrors and room dividers for a local dance school.


Three other Men’s Sheds benefitted from the donations made by Identity, Barrhead Men’s Shed, Men’s Shed Clydebank, and Men’s Shed Govan received wooden set flats, rock wool, doors, MDF sheets, wooden joists, and oak top counters.


Men’s Shed Govan said:


“Thank you very much for your large donation. We have plans for using the Rock wool for our own personal insulation of our premises, to use the panels to create a potting shed and break them down to make other items such as bird boxes and bat boxes. The oak will be used to make jewellery boxes and wooden gift items.”
Sarah Everett, Govan Men’s Shed

Inspired? If you’re an events company that wants to help us reuse and repurpose leftover items, rather than sending them for energy-intensive recycling or even landfill, get in touch with us today. It’s easy to get involved, and together, we can make the events industry greener, more sustainable, and a shining example to all.


And if you’re a charity or community organization, or social enterprise that might benefit from free unwanted items, we’d like to hear from you too. Sign up with Event Cycle, and get ready to reap the rewards, all in the name of repurposing!