Everyday Changemakers: Jess, Nikki, Stuart, Arran EcoSavvy

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Our SCCAN intern, Madeleine Scobie, interviews three more people from Arran Eco Savvy. During her visit to Arran, she talked to Jess Wallace, Sustainable Food Coordinator and Nikki Harris, Eco Savvy shop manager. She also spoke with Stuart Wallace, ebike mechanic, online in October.


Interview, recording and sound production: Madeleine Scobie (based on Everyday Changemakers field reporters guide and support from SCCAN Story Weaver, Kaska Hempel)


Madeleine: Hello, it’s Madeleine Scobie. I’ve been working as an intern at SCCAN for the past six months, helping them with their marketing and storytelling. In my last interview, I talked to Ruth from Arran Eco Savvy. This was published in July. And you can find the link to this Everyday Changemakers interview in the show notes.

Ruth invited me over to visit the island in August and I had the opportunity to record interviews in person with Jess Wallace and Nikki Harris. This was actually my first time visiting Arran, so it was a new experience for me. While I didn’t spend too long there, I did get a quick tour of the picturesque villages of Lamlash and Whiting Bay.

The most memorable part of the visit was getting to try some of the food that was on offer at the Zero Waste Cafe in Shinskine. This mobile cafe provides fresh local produce to the Arran community. I had some carrot cake, which had a nice texture and it was delicious. While there, I spoke with Jess Wallace, the Sustainable Food Coordinator.

I started off by asking her to introduce herself.

Jess: Hi. So I’m Jessica Wallace. I work as a Sustainable Food Coordinator for Arran Eco Savvy here on the Isle of Arran, where I live. And we are talking today a little bit about one of our food projects, which is the Zero Waste Cafe which we run here and has been going now for about 16 months.

The Zero Waste Cafe is a pop-up mobile cafe, which we take to different villages around the island to bring sustainable food in the form of zero waste bulk goods so people can bring their own containers to fill up. We also have local seasonal vegetables, which are supplied by community gardens that we work in conjunction with.

The Zero Waste Cafe acts as a distribution point for the food share scheme. That’s a scheme that we run with volunteers where we collect the short life orange label food from the co-op supermarket, and we take that to villages around the island, seven nights a week to distribute just to avoid food being sent to incineration or being wasted.

Madeleine: Describe your favourite location where you hold the Zero Waste Cafe.

Jess: My favourite location where we hold the Zero Waste Cafe. I suppose it’s a bit biased, my answer, but it’s probably in the village of Corrie, which is also where I live. But I really love the Corrie hall that we hold the cafe in and we’ve got a really good buy-in from the community in the village there.

So it’s always good fun holding the cafe in Corrie.

Madeleine: How did you get involved in community climate action?

Jess: Yeah, so I was involved in community gardening projects in London before I moved up to Arran. And then obviously the environment here is just so, you’re just so in the environment and it’s so present and the climate emergency just feels like it’s getting more and more urgent all the time.

And the opportunity came up to work with Eco Savvy. It was just a great opportunity to work with the community to look at how we can address issues locally. And so that’s when, yeah, I really kind of dedicated myself a bit more to community climate action and have been working now for five years.

And with Eco Savvy.

Madeleine: When I say the words food partnerships, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? How would you explain this concept to others?

Jess: So food partnerships, I think about the network of food partnerships that exists that are sort of facilitated by Sustainable Food Places. And these partnerships are all over the country and they look to bring together stakeholders across the food system to make sort of systemic change.

For example, with procurement practices, looking at community wealth building and bringing better food into schools and yeah, working across sector like economic, environmental council kind of partnerships to really help drive change. Here in North Ayrshire, we are working closely with the council, with Scotland food and drink funded groups as well to try and pull together a partner or revive the partnership here in North Ayrshire so that we can yeah, start making some of the changes locally that are needed as well.

Madeleine: What personal achievement are you most proud of?

Jess: Greatest personal achievement. I think a few years back, working together with some friends and some local small food business owners to pull together a food festival, the Corrie Food Festival. That was really great to see. So many passionate cooks and chefs coming together to create some really lovely meals for people to share and the whole setting, you know, we had the festival taking place in a village hall and then there was lots of communal tables and lots of folk eating together. And you know, just bringing about a real sense of community around food.

And it was just so lovely to see. And I think that’s really been an inspiration for some of the, the work that I’ve done since, and it’s brilliant to see that also at the Zero Waste Cafes. It’s just the nicest thing about it is seeing people coming together around food. So, yeah.

Madeleine: What is your favourite food?

Jess: Oh, that’s got to be one of the trickiest questions. I don’t know. Oh, favourite food. I love anything with tomatoes at the moment. Tomatoes just, yeah. So, tasty and in season. So maybe like a panzanella salad or yeah, anything tomato-based really.

Madeleine: What do you think is the most powerful thing your community can do right now to help create a better and fairer future for all?

Jess: The most important thing I think is coming together is just as a community really working together and working through all the sort of differences that folk may have and, you know, beliefs about what is the most sort of pressing concerns about the future, and just finding ways in which we can work together to tackle some of these issues. So I think there are, you know, so many people have so many issues going on at the moment. The climate obviously being such a huge overarching one that can feel too big sometimes. So I think just working together to have conversations to try and better understand one another.

Yeah, and really trying to come together with solutions that you know, work for. Well, not everyone, but well as many folk as possible that we can all come together around solutions that will help make a fairer and more just kind of future for us all.

Madeleine: What kind of resources would you point people to if they want to start a zero waste cafe in their own community?

Jess: Yeah, I’d say see what’s already happening. Are there already, you know, community gardens in your community? Are there folk who, you know, are really great at baking and perhaps want to get involved in a project like this? Do you have some sort of food redistribution scheme? What can you kind of bring together also what’s missing?

Where are there points, you know, that you could work together to bring a cafe. So for example, here, you know, we really focused on our outlying villages, which don’t have shop facilities. We were looking at places where we could perhaps make the most impact in reducing car journeys.

So yeah, it’s seeing you know, sort of mapping what’s there, mapping the resources, and then using those to kind of inform the model that you are building. And obviously all communities have a diversity of needs, so it’s really just better understanding what yours are. And, you know, speaking to people, we ran many surveys to kind of better understand what folk were looking for.

So I think, yeah, it’s really seeing what’s there and knowing or having an idea of what it is that’s missing and yeah, building the model from that. And also speaking to other projects, other community projects are similar to the idea that you have and getting inspiration from them. So if you’re thinking about it, feel free to come and talk to us.

Madeleine: What’s the biggest challenge that your community group had to overcome and what did you learn from it?

Jess: I think our biggest challenge was getting over some of the sort of preconceptions and stigmas that people held about the cafe. And just making everyone aware that, you know, the cafe is for everybody.

Everybody eats, and everybody you know, should have the right to eat good, healthy, sustainable food and the right to access that at affordable prices. So it was really. Yeah, working to try and understand what was stopping people coming to the cafe and looking at ways that we could make it a more inclusive space.

So yeah, I think that was very challenging at the start, was trying to get the messaging across that it was for everybody. So yeah, I think that was really something that we had to work quite hard on. But it’s now slowly getting to the point where I think people are realising that it’s, you know, very much about community food and just coming together.

Madeleine: What was the last podcast you listened to? What did you think of it?

Jess: I listened to an episode of the Food Chain, which was about machine learning and AI, the use of it in nutrition and how that can be used to better inform like our dietary choices. I don’t know what I’ve thought about it. I’m not a hundred percent how I feel about all the sort of AI stuff that’s going on, but it was, yeah, super interesting.

It has potentially some great applications, but yeah, that was the last podcast I listened to.

Madeleine: If you could imagine Arran 10 or 30 years from now and imagine that we have all done everything possible to limit the effects of climate change, and Arran is a fairer and better place to be. Think about the place where you work.

As you look around you, could you share one memory from that future with us?

Jess: Future Arran is a beautiful place to live. We’ve got an abundance of seabirds and wildlife is sort of regenerated. The climate feels a bit more stable. The weather patterns. Yeah. Feel a bit more regular. We have good seasons again and food is seen as a right and not as a commodity.

And so we have big community kitchens all across the island where we cook together. There’s intergenerational skill sharing. We grow lots of an abundance of produce in glass houses and in the fields. There’s a real diversity of farms on the island. And everyone is well fed, nourished, happy, all the things that you might want in the future.

Madeleine: My next stop was in the village of Whiting Bay. Whiting Bay is situated on the coast of Arran and overlooks the sea. It is home to Scotland’s first community led marine protected area, which was fought for by COAST, a marine organisation in Arran. During my visit, I talked to Nikki Harris, the manager of the Arran Eco Savvy community shop.

Nikki: My name is Nikki Harris and I’m the shop manager here at Arran Eco Savvy community shop, which is based in Whiting Bay. The shop has been here for 10 years and it relies predominantly on volunteers.

We accept donations from the wider community around the island and then resell them and promote goods for reuse and repair. And yeah, people just love coming in and having a rummage, having a browse, to see what we might have on offer each week.

Madeleine: Do you have a favourite sound or smell on Arran?

Nikki: I love the smell and the sound of the sea.

Madeleine: How did you get involved in community action? What’s your climate journey?

Nikki: My climate journey started a very, very long time ago, in 1974 when my dad first told me about global warming as it was described then, the greenhouse effect, and he bought two acres of land and we started to plant trees. And that was the first time I became aware of how I could actually physically do something to help the environment, and I’ve always been very keen on the environment.

Then in 2013, Arran Eco Savvy started up and I helped them form working groups. It was a group of people who had tons of enthusiasm and passion, but not a lot of organisation. Well, it wasn’t bad, but they just needed some help. So I started with their setting up working groups and figuring out, you know, what were the next steps?

So the committee that started Eco Savvy then got a hold of this shop and we started decorating the shop and then just kept our fingers crossed that people would come in and start using the shop to buy secondhand goods. We started with Second Chance taking in newer items or barely used items, which the customer

or the person who donated that could give us, when they gave the item to us, they got some money back. So say you were selling the item for 20 pounds, they would get 10 pounds and we would get 10 pounds. And then from there not long after that, I left Eco Savvy and I was working with young people.

Then they changed the shop to being second hand goods only, you know, selling donations like at any other charity shop and promoting the use of eco products. And I started working officially for Eco Savvy last year in 2022. Yeah. And I’ve been running the shop now for 16 months. 17 months.

Madeleine: Who or what inspires you?

Nikki: I’m really inspired when I see the people who put their lives on the line for environmental activism. I think that they’re hugely brave to affect their own lives to such an extent to fight on behalf of us all, and I’m inspired on a personal level by very creative people. They always make me feel, I want to be more creative as well.

And yeah, just anybody who is prepared to do something, just go that extra mile to do things on behalf of others or the environment or creatively.

Madeleine: What is a useful tip that you would give to people wanting to make a difference in their communities?

Nikki: Volunteering with local community groups is probably one of the best ways to find out more about any given subject help, especially with the environment.

Get to know people, you know, share good experiences. With the other members of the community that you could have shared interests with that had you not volunteered for the same organisation, you may not be aware of, you know, things you have in common. So it’s a really good way to integrate yourself into a community, help the environment if it’s an environmental charity that you’re volunteering with, and just to get to know people and make yourself feel useful.

Madeleine: When I say the word circular economy, what does that mean to you? How would you explain this concept to people?

Nikki: A circular economy to me means if you buy something new from a shop when you’re finished using it, if you put it into a second hand shop and someone else gets the use of that, the money that the second hand shop gets helps to pay people’s wages and

you know, helps to keep the lights on and creates a service for people where they can come and get pre-loved goods at a much cheaper price. And then you take the product, and you use it for yourself, and then it either goes into a different recycling outlet when you’re finished with it. But I’m not a hundred percent clear on this, but I think that would be my interpretation.

If you can reuse things or repurpose things, and at the same time you’re paying people to do that, that there’s wage s there, that there’s jobs there for people, you know. If it’s creating jobs and reuse of any products, I would say.

Madeleine: What’s your favourite second hand item that you’ve bought?

Nikki: It’s a bit of an odd thing, but a hedge trimmer because I’d never owned one or used one, but there was one in the shop here and I was able to use it to keep the shop looking tidy on the outside and I bought it to take it home and now I share it with all my neighbours and we all use this hedge trimmer and it does a lovely job.

And I’m so impressed because it saved me so much time and we PAT test all our electrical goods before resale. So I know that it’s safe and it makes a lovely job of the hedges, you can be working outside. All my neighbours are keen to use it too. So I think it’s proved to be real value for money.

So yes, it’s a very odd thing, but I quite like my second-hand hedge trimmer.

Madeleine: What do you think are the challenges with keeping projects like the community shop going long term?

Nikki: The biggest challenge we have is keeping things at an affordable price, a reasonable price, given that the product is second hand and at the same time we have to make enough to break even.

So we’ve got a lot of overheads and with the recent increase in energy prices, that’s had quite a significant impact on, you know, the amount that we need now to make to break even each year. So we have to put the prices up and that’s not really what we want to do. And I think that just the increased costs of running a business, because ultimately, although it’s a shop for second hand goods and it’s a place where people can come and get together and volunteer, it has to be run as a business in order to make it financially viable.

So we’ve got a lot of external costs and overheads that maybe people don’t see initially. So I think the challenge is getting the pricing right to make sure that we’re bringing enough money to pay all the bills.

Madeleine: What music do you listen to the most?

Nikki: I like a really wide range of music. I think I probably like the blues most of all, but I mostly just listen to the radio and listen to all the different music that you get in different radio programmes. I like all sorts really, but predominantly the blues I think and singer songwriters.

Madeleine: What is the best thing and what is the most challenging thing about living on an island?

Nikki: I suppose the challenge of living on an island is just like any other small community, there’s just, there’s not enough really in the winter to keep us all busy.

There aren’t enough good jobs, career ladder. Career type jobs. Accommodation is a major issue on the island. There isn’t enough affordable accommodation here and that makes it difficult for people to move here, and we don’t have enough key workers because of that as well. The boat can be quite challenging because of the weather and various technical issues.

But it’s great because it’s a lot safer than the mainland. Your community looks out for you, which is really quite nice. But at the same time, that can sometimes seem overbearing for people because they think there’s a lack of privacy because everybody knows everybody else’s business.

That’s true. That was true of how it used to be here, but it has changed and people are more respectful of and mindful of people’s boundaries these days. So that side of things, I think has improved. But yes, it’s a beautiful place to live. Island life is lovely if the boat sails, if the boat doesn’t sail.

Then life can become a lot more difficult than people who live in the mainland appreciate. If you don’t get that last train out of Glasgow Central, for instance, you might miss the boat home, then you might need to pay for accommodation on the mainland overnight before you can get home.

That accommodation, you know, the costs associated with all of that can be quite high if you need to get to hospital. You might need to be helicoptered off. So there are significant challenges to living here, but if you’re young, fit and able, yeah, it’s a brilliant place to live.

Madeleine: Do you have a personal motto?

Nikki: My motto would be, maybe be here now. Just try and stay in the present moment and stay positive and just find solutions. Don’t look for problems. Just try and find solutions to things. Just stay positive, really. As positive as you can be in as a realistic way as you can and avoid negativity.

Madeleine: If you could imagine Arran 10 or 30 years from now and imagine that we have all done everything possible to limit the effects of climate change, and Arran is a fairer and better place to be.

Think about the place where you work. What are the sounds, the smells, the sights, and the tastes as you look around you, could you share one memory from that future with us.

Nikki: In the future, if I was in the shop, I’d like to look out the shop window and see people traveling, using e-bikes or push bikes or electric cars.

I’d like to see far more birds in the sky, hear more birds generally, which is an indicator that the environment was recovering because there was enough habitat for our wildlife. I’d like people to, the council to not cut the grass verges. People using the sea more responsibly. A cleaner atmosphere, extended trees planted everywhere, and just extend the natural, untouched environment for our local species rather than constantly encroaching on their space.

That’s what I would like to see.

Madeleine: Sadly, that was the end of my day in Arran. However, I did manage to catch up with Wally online in October. He called in from Arran Eco Savvy’s office in Brodick. Wally works at Arran Eco Savvy’s Active Travel Hub, which encourages Arran residents to choose greener ways to travel around the island. They have an e bike loan scheme which is part of the national 20 Minute Neighbourhoods Project.

Wally: My name is Wally, or most people call me Wally anyway, actual name is Stuart Wallace. I live on the Isle of Arran and I basically work as a mechanic and have done for many years. I work for an arm of the project which is to do with bicycles, which is I’m a bike mechanic. I’ve been an outdoor instructor for many, many years. I basically fix a fleet of e bikes and we farm them out to the local community. They get them, you know, for a month at a time or more depending on the time of year and the weather conditions and whether they get use out of them in a month.

And hopefully it fits their lifestyle or they can see whether it doesn’t fit their lifestyle to whether they actually move forward and buy an e bike.

Madeleine: Where is your favourite place to ride your bike in Arran?

Wally: There’s a particular road on the south end called the Ross, which recently has been closed for a while because of a landslide and it’s been closed to vehicle traffic.

It’s always been one of my favourite rides to go up and over that particular hill. The hill is challenging from kind of both sides of the island, and it subdivides kind of the south end, and it’s quite a remote valley. There’s not a lot of habitation down there. There’s lots of wildlife you often see.

Birds of prey, buzzards, hen harriers, the usual kind of smaller aerial stuff but often sometimes an eagle. Yeah it’s quite an interesting place to ride, quite quiet but also yeah very challenging but it’s right on my doorstep, it’s like straight out the door ten minutes down the road and woomph you’re up the hill.

Madeleine: So, how did you get involved in community action?

Wally: I was kind of just headhunted by the previous incumbent of the post, I think, actually. A gentlemen called Andrew Binney who worked on the project before me. He basically said I would be ideal. I was approached and, yeah, grabbed. There’s not a huge pool of people on Arran. You know, there’s only a 5, 000, 5, 500 maybe, full time population.

It fluxes into the summer to quite a bigger number with second homeowners and holiday homes and things like that. But the actual working adult population of Arran, if I remember correctly, is something like only about seven, eight hundred people. You know, so there’s limited staff.

Madeleine: What personal achievement are you most proud of?

Wally: I always think of the hardest exam I ever took was my winter mountain leader assessment. So now I concentrate on cycling, but for the past kind of 30 years, I’ve also been an outdoor educator as well. I’ve been a mountain leader, a kayak instructor, archery, powerboat driver, as well as doing a lot of these sports for myself.

So yeah, I went through the walking awards to become a summer mountain leader, which is pretty tough. That’s a five day exam after you’ve done a kind of training course, which is probably five, four or five days with camping and the assessment then kind of a couple of years down the line when you’ve done enough hill and mountain experience is then another five days exam on the mountain and two of those nights camping.

So you could prove that you can look after yourself and look after other people kind of thing in the hills. And then I did the whole process again through winter. So again, a training course, and then going out and seeking experience in the mountains areas in the UK, mainly in Scotland, and then being examined again over the course of five days to then be classed as a winter mountain leader and I was going to progress forward potentially to become a climbing instructor but actually I was kind of knocked back by having a stroke a few years ago.

So kind of stopped my hill work, I should be saying. There’s various other things that are going on in my battered body as well. I’ve got some arthritic pain and kind of other things going on. So I don’t hill walk as much as I did and I don’t do it for work. And I do a lot more cycling as a flip side of that, which is great.

You know, I do a lot more riding and I also do cycle tours on the back of that now for Wilderness Scotland, who’s a company in the north of Scotland who run kind of these, very comfortable cycling tours with hotel based things, so it suits my aging body and aching body to ride bikes and lead groups rather than bash myself silly in the hills anymore, but that is definitely my crowning qualification, as it were, and biggest achievement.

Commitment of time and energy and probably money as well to become a UK winter mountain leader. Yeah, definitely.

Madeleine: What do you think is the most powerful thing that your community can do right now to help create a better and fairer future for all?

Wally: Communicate. That’s probably the biggest thing is the way that communities are quite insular sometimes.

There are people who are trying to link them together, but a lot of people are like, oh, we’ll do it our way over here in this village, and you do it your way over that way in that village.

Madeleine: What advice would you give to people who want to find greener ways to travel and would maybe consider trying out an e bike?

Wally: Definitely, and there’s plenty of projects like these coming up, trying e bikes, and if you are thinking about that line of thought, try as many e bikes as you can, because there’s a huge variety of styles and sizes. So, schemes like this are great, because we can, as I say, lead people, potentially, into where they want to go, find out what style they need, give them a trial on that kind of bike if we’ve got it.

Or suggest someone who may have that kind of style of bike that we already know has passed through the scheme and bought one. That they may be able to hop onto one and just try one, you know. I think a lot of people buy their bikes online. Or they buy them in Glasgow and then they bring them back here.

So we end up doing a lot of servicing and aftercare for bikes that are kind of incorrectly bought, should we say, without the correct kind of trial and error period and thought. Because it’s a lot of money, it’s a big investment as well. It’s trial and error and finding out what suits your lifestyle, your roads, your area, and whether you’re using it.

In conjunction with other public transport like buses or train connections or carrying it on a train, you know, folding commuting bikes and things like that.

Madeleine: What has been the highlights of your job?

Wally: From people getting on an e bike and not really believing what it does for them because they’re not able to ride a normal bike.

And seeing their faces light up, the elation of being able to just do that again because they’ve not been able to do it for a while because they’re getting that little bit of assistance in terms of oomph. Certainly here on Arran where it’s lumpy and hilly, you know, a lot of people have to give up cycling because they just can’t push a normal bike.

Also though, the flip side of that would be some of these bikes I mentioned earlier about, we give out bikes to the community, we try and sell them and obviously put that money, donation money back into our coffers to kind of buy parts, do more but sometimes I just give a bike away because someone needs a bike. Giving a bike away and then ten minutes later seeing the young person riding away on it, you know, because I’ve taught them to ride down the playing fields on the grass Ten minutes later they are now riding a bike and they’ve got their own bike and wee away. It’s brilliant.

Madeleine: What was the last book that you read?

Wally: To be technical, the last paper book I read was actually the Climbing Guide For The Lowland Outcrops of Scotland IE the Central Belt and audio book would’ve been Circe, which was a story about the Greek witch goddess daughter of. Last daughter of Zeus. I think. I actually haven’t read that many proper paper books for a while.

I mean, I’m into sci-fi and also fantasy, but also just technical stuff and reality, mountaineering, hill stuff, climbing, cycling, eco. Yeah, we’ve got a very diverse book collection.

Madeleine: What was the biggest challenge that your community group had to overcome? And what have you learned?

Wally: We don’t actually have our own office or workshop or stuff, so this is actually a community pavilion.

And when the sports pavilion is used for big events, we often have to move out our workshops and we can’t run our hub on a Tuesday. In terms of overcoming, I think overcoming, again, communication. There’s a lot of people on Arran who still don’t understand what we do. Still don’t understand what we do.

So there’s a big variety of what we do and I think that’s probably what it is. There’s a lot to communicate and people see little snippets of it, but they don’t get the bigger picture. So, again, it loops back to my whole biggest issue on Arran really is communication. Getting people talking to each other and understanding what’s going on in their backyard, if that makes sense.

Madeleine: Can you tell me about your first bike?

Wally: Definitely a little small wheel thing. I remember it had white wheels. I think the wheels were probably only 16 to 18 inches big and kind of a step through frame. White seat. I think it was definitely second hand. Yeah, it definitely wasn’t new. But I was growing very fast.

As I said earlier, I shot through that first bike. I was very quickly on a 24 inch wheel bike. Which was, yeah, a considerable sized jump. Kind of the seat was slammed down. But I remember that one much more clearly because it was unusually labelled a Gitane. Which was a French cigarette brand at the time.

So in the days of corporate sponsoring and the racing sponsorship on bikes and things like that.

Madeleine: When I say 20 Minute Neighbourhoods, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? How would you explain this concept to people?

Wally: Well, we have that phrase here. I mean, we basically, we want to try and link up people with these neighbourhoods.

I was talking about that whole communication thing and this project, it’s trying to get people to be able to go to that next neighbourhood with ease. You know, and e bikes can help that. Better public transport can help that. In some cases, just better footpaths can help that. There’s certainly areas here on Arran which could be better accessed on foot by some people, but actually there’s no actual footpath for people alongside roads or even, you know, beside the road anywhere near it. And so people, tourists often are walking on the roads because it’s an ancient road structure, and the terrain is, yeah, difficult and lumpy.

We’re just trying to enable people to use their bikes if they can use their bikes, use e bikes if it isn’t a great enabler for them to use their bikes and e bikes and also get a better public transport system where that’s more regular. Here it currently only really meets with the ferries but there needs to be more to help people get off the roads and out of their vehicles but be able to access each village because each village is then separated by a hill here on Arran it’s very hilly, lumpy.

So, you need to be able to get access, you know, it takes me on a normal bike, because my foot cycle is 15 minutes to get from one village to the next. So on an e bike, people can do that in 10 minutes. If they’re not that fit, they can still do it in 15 minutes. But otherwise, they’d be jumping in a car to do that, even on a nice day, because of the big hill.

It’s like what it means to us, basically.

Madeleine: Do you have a personal motto?

Wally: I always just try and be as best I can, basically. I know I’m sometimes a bit lazy. Sometimes in my personal kind of things, because I do so many active things I just sometimes just want to just stop and be lazy. But yeah, I always just try and be more, be better than I was yesterday.

Madeleine: If you could imagine Arran 10 or 30 years from now and imagine that we’ve all done everything possible to limit the effects of climate change and Arran is now a fairer and better place to be, could you maybe share one memory from that future with us?

Wally: I’m hoping there’ll be less vehicles. But, you know, we’re already starting to see an uptake in electric vehicles, which is good.

I think, yeah, less vehicles and more cycling infrastructure, you know, in terms of just making paths work locally to get people potentially off the road in the first place so that the roads don’t have to change that much, what has to change is the infrastructure around them. Cheaper housing as well, that’s never going to happen anyway in this day and age, but it’s generally cheaper housing.

Here on Arran, it’s very much a tourist holiday retirement destination, so housing prices are always being hiked up. We need a kind of increase in working age people and also, a decrease in housing prices so that people who grew up and live here can actually buy and afford to stay here rather than go to the mainland and stay away because they can’t afford to come back here and live.

More sustainable housing, please.

Madeleine: Visit Arran Eco Savvy’s website to find out more about the great work they’re doing within their community. They have short videos about the different projects that you can watch too. These links and other resources are in the show notes. Look out for the full Arran audio tour based on my Everyday Changemakers interviews which will be launched by Arran Eco Savvy next year.


Arran Eco Savvy website: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/

Zero Waste Cafe: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/about-arran-eco-savvy/current-projects/zero-waste-cafe/ 

Zero Waste Cafe video: https://vimeo.com/796376962/ce499f02e2

Sustainable Food Places: https://www.sustainablefoodplaces.org/

Arran Eco Savvy Community Shop: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/community-shop/ 

Community Shop video: https://vimeo.com/826523465/3f3863284a?share=copy

Circular Economy: https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/topics/circular-economy

An illustrated interview with Wally: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/news-events/eco-savvy-news-events/arran-eco-savvy-bike-mechanic-wally-wallace/

Active Travel Hub: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/about-arran-eco-savvy/current-projects/active-travel-hub/

Active Travel Hub video: https://vimeo.com/799647519/663c6e3da1

20 Minute Neighbourhoods project: https://www.ourplace.scot/about-place/themes/20-minute-neighbourhoods-home/20-minute-neighbourhoods