- Getting to know... Nicola Smith
- East Haven Together
- It’s time to litter-ly turn anger into action
- Working in partnership to give communities a helping hand to clean up Scotland
- Why Beautiful Scotland is important to Lauder in Bloom
- We can all be climate ready
- Climate Ready Classrooms at Speyside High School
- Taking part in It's Your Neighbourhood
- Bags of opportunity for good
- Getting to know... Eve Keepax
- Lucky to live here
- A year of opportunity ahead
- How I’m trying to waste less this Christmas
- Unmasking a looming litter emergency
- Getting to know... Brian Rae
- A Canal College® journey
- Volunteering during a pandemic
- Applauding the unsung heroes who manage our award winning parks and beaches
- Socially distant but learning together
- Getting to know.......Lisa Snedden
- Waste vs the pandemic: finding a new normal for single-use cups
- Now is the time to change
- Could the Global Goals provide a framework for the green recovery?
- Getting to know....Connor Launder
- Our incredible Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood community
- Getting to know our people behind Climate Ready Classrooms
- Lockdown litter - a community view
- Looking after beaches
- Getting to know.....Claire Gibson
- The Origins of George Wyllie's 'Original Earth Guarantee'
- Getting to know... Aoife Hutton
- National disgrace of lockdown litter
- The healing power of local places
- Tackling Covid-19 and climate change at a community level
- Amid the Coronavirus crisis the climate emergency has not gone away
- Bringing environmental education home
- #TurdTag – getting creative to tackle dog poo
- Preparing young people to take action on climate change
- Running on community power
- Reconnecting with nature
- Coronavirus isn't an excuse - flytipping is still a crime
- Sowing seeds of hope in our community
- Hope for the environment post-Coronavirus?
- From Eco-School Committee to environmental charity
- You can’t tackle the climate crisis unless you are climate ready
- Why everyone wins when you take part in Beautiful Scotland
- Entering our third decade with a splash
- Is 2020 the year for a circular economy in Scotland?
- A year in the life of: the campaigns and innovation team
- Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime
- Setting sail: all aboard the partnership
- Free wheeling
- Scotland is thirsty for change
- This #ScotClimateWeek, are you ready to pledge?
- Upstream Battle at Whinhill Primary School
- Elaine Hopley on our Upstream Battle week of action
- 20 September climate strikes: what took place and what happens now?
- Playing our part to reduce cup waste
- The funeral of a glacier: time to pull the emergency brake
- Get your Paws on Plastic
- Arran – exploring its hidden gems
- It’s time to take action to reverse climate change
- Monitoring litter to help keep Scotland beautiful
- Tackling Our Unsustainable Cup Consumption
- Cups hitting the ground: what we learned at TRNSMT Festival
- We All Have To Fight The UpStream Battle
- It's rubbish that people have to clean up after litter bugs
- The power of pocket gardens
- Registering your clean up makes a difference
- Tackling climate change starts at home
- Speaking the language of Carbon Literacy
- The life of a Keep Scotland Beautiful intern
- Wheatley Group: two years on and still going strong
- Roadside Litter: Think twice before you chuck
- Our citizen scientists are ready to make waves for Upstream Battle
- Taking a stand on climate change – what actions will you take?
- The Cup Movement will tackle our litter culture head on
- Working across borders to tackle climate change
- Celebrating 25 years of Eco-Schools in Scotland
- Climate change – it’s personal
- Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful
- Treading lightly – steps to lower our carbon footprint
- Aunty Babs washes her spoon and so should you
- Climate change: we can all do our bit
- Have yourself a green Christmas
- Shifting up a gear on Scotland’s roadside litter problem
- It’s time to consign our litter problem to the dustbin of history
- We can save our seas by starting at home
- Everyone can do their bit to protect the world – what’s your Goal?
If I'm honest, taking on the CEO role of a national environmental charity a couple of weeks before lockdown began has not been easy. I enjoy being in an office and developing relationships with my team. I thrive on direct contact and am eager to return in part to what I know – but we can’t ever go back completely, not if both the economy and our environment are to recover in harmony. Which they must.
As restrictions continue to lift, allowing us to see loved ones again, to visit some of the places further afield that we have missed, I am mindful of what this means for the charity I lead. Of both the challenges and the opportunities of building back better.
Despite the worldwide health pandemic that has paused so much of life as we know it, the global environmental challenges we face haven’t gone away.
Climate change is still a very real threat to us all. We need Scotland to be climate ready, for people to understand the carbon impacts of their lives and the lower carbon life choices that are available. While in lockdown we have seen innovation across communities and a resurgence of growing food, buying local and staying local.
Litter and waste are still causing real issues. Our recent polling shows many people perceive there to have been a ‘lockdown effect’ with increased dissatisfaction with levels of litter and dog fouling in their communities since restrictions began. And we know the increase in our use of single-use items, from carrier bags to PPE, is a staggering step backwards in our attempts to lower consumption levels and ensure Scotland has a circular economy.
And the need for us to protect and enhance the local places many of us have reconnected with and care about, and to restore them and their heritage has never been more acute. As we start to travel further afield and rediscover Scotland, we want to ensure that the communities in the places we value don’t suffer detrimentally.
People around the world living under lockdown have been forced to adopt different behaviours. Across the world people have surprised themselves. Businesses, charities and individuals are utilising technology like never before to connect with one another. Covid-19 has changed the way people work, travel and socialise. It has reawakened communities. Evidence shows that when habits are disrupted by major events people are more open to changing their lifestyle choices. As a country we have a real chance to build momentum for positive change if we all embrace it.
As a national charity we recognise that we can help people to retain the positive elements of the changes they have made. We will look to reduce carbon consumption across our own activities and are committed to our own net zero plan. And, with online learning, networking and improved communications tools, we believe we can also reach more people than we have in the past with our behaviour change campaigns and training.
We have work to do. Fundamentally we all need to regroup. We need to educate, train, reward, collaborate, network and influence. We need to engage more people to join us on our ambitious journey to make Scotland clean, green and sustainable.
The time we are all living through right now is not normal. The future will not be the same as we imagined it to be as we entered 2020. And, yet I believe that we have a real chance to build a more sustainable future, a greener and fairer one for all. A future which sees stronger connections between people and their communities; one which sees us really value our environment and recognise the important role that our green and blue spaces play in maintaining our own health and wellbeing; and a chance to pause and reassess the global supply chain and the opportunities our local systems can play.
My question to you all, is if not now, then when?
Together we can make a difference. We need you all to join our network, to partner with us, to enable us to engage more people as we set sail on this new journey and harness the opportunities ahead. We can’t afford to lose this progress made and to revert to our old ways.
First published in The Scotsman in July 2020.