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Leaving a legacy post-COP26: Doing Good with Donated Wood in Scotland

Before, during, and after the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow during November 2021, we worked with Identity, an innovative full-service events agency, to rehome and repurpose a wide range of materials used at the event to a variety of fabulous charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Within ten days of the event closing, we had turned one man’s rubbish into another man’s treasure, working to make a cleaner, green future for our planet, and providing a range of useful materials for some amazing causes. In the hands of these wonderful organisations, some of the items found easy, obvious uses, while others needed a little more imagination for their new lease of life.

A large amount of wood was used onsite at the COP26 event, mainly in the construction of large spaces, be these meeting spaces, offices or lounges. Exhibition stands, referred to as ‘Pavilions’ also required wood in their creation. These were made up of small, separate rooms or spaces where parties or observer organisations could host events, showcase research and expertise, and have informal discussions with COP attendees. Wood was vital in helping to divide up the space, and to create storage, shelving, display units, and seating areas.

The first charity we were able to support through a donation of wood from the event was Glasgow Wood Recycling, a social enterprise established in 2007 with the aim of reducing the amount of wood needlessly going to landfill by finding socially inclusive ways to reuse this valuable natural resource. Wood waste is collected from all over the city and sorted at the charity’s workshop on South Street before being reused to make quality furniture and bespoke pieces for homes, businesses, and social sector organisations - anything from tables in bars to eco-gardens in schools.

The activities undertaken by Glasgow Wood Recycling are designed with the ultimate goal of providing volunteering and training opportunities for local people, a practical way of tackling unemployment and social exclusion.

We sent a whopping 51 pallet’s worth of wood to the charity from the COP26 event that would otherwise have gone to the wood skip, and they set about sorting, de-nailing (a highly technical term), and selling this donation, which ended up as a diverse range of items including a house for a client’s hamster, and planters for the concourse of the SEC, which were delivered to site then returned to Glasgow Wood Recycling for a full circular economy experience.

Ahoy there, matey! The Clyde Maritime Trust was another organisation to benefit from a donation of wood from Identity production services - 8 pallets worth, to be precise. Wood that would otherwise have been tossed in the wood skip, instead was put to good use by an organisation that recovered, restored, and now cares for the iconic cargo ship ‘The Glenlee’, and shares the history of ships built on the Clyde, keeping Glasgow’s rich maritime heritage alive.

The trust runs a workshop where, under the guidance of an experienced boatbuilder, volunteers develop the skills needed to make and maintain ship parts. In fact, the organisation’s pinnacle, and one of its lifeboats, were built by volunteers. The wood donated will help keep these important traditions alive.

World of Wings was another happy recipient of a donation of wood from the COP26 event, receiving 4 pallet’s worth to help with the upkeep of the enclosures for the charity’s collection of hawks, eagles, falcons, and other exotic birds and Scotland’s largest and most impressive Birds of Prey collection. Twit twoo!

EBI Unites, a volunteer social enterprise providing community support with food and fuel poverty, mental health, and physical wellbeing, received 10 pallets worth of wood to help support the Renfrewshire community. Chris Reid, a representative from the organisation said:

“About 40 lengths of timber have been used in the construction of a Santa’s Grotto, which our local housing association provided for families in need over Christmas 2021. The insulation you donated, along with more of the timber, is earmarked for an emu shelter (!) when we find the time, providing animal interaction for vulnerable people as part of our farm project, which also hosts llamas and horses. We’ll also be building picnic benches, signage, and interactive games for this project.”

As if this wasn’t enough, Deansmeadow Allotments Association, a community based growing association that helps members develop an interest in nature, will turn their donation of 28 pallets worth of wood into building shed pieces and planters.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will use their donated timber to construct the set of their performance of ‘The Dream’ (a combination of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream) which will mostly be made from reclaimed and reused materials - sweet music to our ears!

The production will also form part of the ongoing training of both acting and production students at RCS, who will benefit from having to set to work with a limited budget, helping them develop an ongoing understanding of sustainable theatre practises.

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 organisation, 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!


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