Behind the Scenes of a Sustainable Scottish Shop
SUSTAINER CONTAINER is a local business and is currently a one-woman-band, run by me, Maya. My sustainable gift shop is based between the cities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, in Scotland, in the United Kingdom. With Scotland aiming to be carbon neutral by 2045, I look at sustainability in my hometowns of Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Eco Ethos- Aberdeen
Although originally from England, I have spent much of my life living in a small village in Aberdeenshire and I would definitely consider myself a Scot. Aberdeen, otherwise known as the Granite City due to the plethora of grey, granite buildings, may not be the prettiest city. But Aberdeen does have a lovely sea front, where I have seen dolphins on several breathtaking occasions during the summer! Aberdeenshire, like much of Scotland is surrounded by beautiful scenery and as the slogan suggests: “From mountain to sea, the very best of Scotland”. Rural Aberdeenshire includes over 20 Munros (a mountain that is 3000+ feet high) as well as picturesque coastal towns and Scottish castles. My personal favourite is the ruined Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven (pictured below). There is a lovely walk along the clifftop from the War Memorial to Dunnottar Castle, where I have spent many a happy family outing.
Whilst Aberdeenshire may be renowned for its beautiful scenery, Aberdeen is also known for being a hub for the oil and gas industry. Many large oil and gas corporations have bases in Aberdeen, and working offshore or in another oil and gas related job are common occupations. For me, seeing the scale of the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen, and knowing the detrimental effects of oil for the planet, provided an underlying motivation for me to set up SUSTAINER CONTAINER, to help create positive environmental change.
Aberdeen City Council is now working towards a Sustainable Energy Action Plan- Powering Aberdeen. The plan aims to reduce the carbon emissions produced by Aberdeen through implementing measures including a push towards sustainable transport and utilising more eco-friendly forms of energy. For example, the Donside Hydro community energy scheme has implemented 3 turbines alongside the River Don to generate electricity and is the first urban electric station in Scotland.
Eco-Friendly Shop Founded in Edinburgh
In 2016 I left my sheltered village life in Aberdeenshire to give big city living a try in Edinburgh, where I attended university. Whilst completely different to Aberdeenshire, Scotland’s capital is charming in its own (slightly busy) way, with a lovely beach at Portabello, Arthurs Seat (the city centre ancient volcano) and of course, Edinburgh Castle. One of my favourite places in the city is Holyrood Park, at the foot of Arthurs Seat. It is roughly a 5km walk around the park, with a couple of little lakes that are usually inhabited by swans and ducks. Although a popular spot, it rarely feels busy and is a peaceful walk with stunning views of the city. At Christmas, the city comes alive for the Edinburgh Christmas Market and another highlight of the Edinburgh calendar is the world famous Fringe Festival in August.
Similar to the Powering Aberdeen plan, Edinburgh Council is also prioritising the environment with its City Mobility Plan as part of the council’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. The plan, which is due to be implemented in the next 10 years, involves improving public transport through extending the current tram lines as well as pedestrianisation of the city centre and improving cycle routes.
During my final year studying at university in Edinburgh, I began working on the idea of my eco-friendly online shop. Alongside completing my Sociology dissertation, I researched everything eco-friendly, spoke to students about sustainable products they use and even worked alongside lecturers to work out the carbon emissions saved by my boxes. Additionally, I was heavily supported by the university entrepreneurial service who provided me with advice and funding to develop an initial prototype of my boxes.
Between Aberdeen and Edinburgh, a UK Based Sustainable Shop
Today (or in a post-lockdown world), I run my little eco friendly gift shop between the cities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh. After being due to graduate in July 2020 and lockdown somewhat affecting my post-graduation plans, I am unsure where my little eco friendly shop will be based in the future. But no matter where I am, whether it is Aberdeen, Edinburgh or beyond, I will continue being an eco-warrior on a mission to create positive change.
Have you visited Scotland, or maybe you live here too? What are your favourite places in Scotland?