Scroll Top

Tackling climate change one sewing machine at a time

Local libraries are at the forefront of tackling climate change in North Ayrshire.

Over the past few months North Ayrshire Libraries have been in the spotlight after launching two new eco-initiatives in the Garnock Valley and the Three Towns.

As the Council unveils this week its renewed ‘Sustainable North Ayrshire Strategy for 2024-2027  (more on this in the news release here), Staff Talk is taking a moment to pause and reflect on the superb work of the new Lend and Mend Hub in Kilbirnie and Stevenston’s new Seed Library  – two important projects helping the Council to fulfil its commitment of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030…

Reduce, reuse, recycle – that’s the aim of the Lend and Mend hub!

A new dedicated facility in Kilbirnie Library, the Lend and Mend hub was opened Friday, September 22 and allows free access to equipment to repair, reuse, and upcycle everyday items. Since then, 28 workshops have taken place at the Lend and Mend Hub and 27 items have been saved from landfill through upcycling and repairs.

As part of a trailblazing project funded by the John Lewis Circular Future Fund, public libraries in key areas across the country will lead the way in developing a long-term model for circular economy activities, while helping to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Nine library partners across Scotland have been selected to host a ‘Lend and Mend Hub’ as part of the pilot project managed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).

Scottish Government Culture Minister Christina McKelvie said: “Our libraries are at the heart of our communities and the first of the pilot ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ will further enhance the services they provide locally.

“Giving people free access to repair or recycle everyday items reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to sustainability and will be an invaluable resource in the current cost of living crisis.”

Residents use sewing machines at Lend and Mend hub Kilbirnie Library to make their own tote bas with Creative Recycling Ltd

At a sewing workshop with local social enterprise, Creative Recycling Ltd on the opening week, residents learned basic sewin machine skills to make some upcycled products out of clothes, bedding and other textiles that would have otherwise gone straight to landfill.

An older resident said: “I’m a keen crafter but I have never been very good at sewin, the workshops have been amazing as not only have I been able to meet new friends (which is hard for me to do as I don’t get out much), I’ve also realised that by takin my time and learning some new skills

And another participant agreeing, “Everyone was just so lovely and welcoming, I really appreciated the time and patience that the experts from Creative Recycling Ltd had with us. My mum was a fashionista when she was younger, she was a professional seamstress and really knew her way around a sewing machine. As she has dementia now and has since given me her sewin machine, I would really like to get good enough to make something for her so we can share some nostalgic memories together.”

With a young adult beginner adding: “I am autistic and so clothing can be a real distraction for me if they don’t feel comfy enough or a label is itching, so I decided to come to the class to see if I could upskill and maybe start making my own clothes or adapting ones I already have instead of then being chucked in the recycling.

“I feel really empowered now because the workshops have made me feel more confident and less daunted about visiting my local library. I am also delighted with the tote bag I managed to make out of some retro bedding, it looks so cool, in fact sewin IS cool and I’m going to spread the word as it would be so great if young people could get involved too.

If you would be interested in taking part in future sessions, please call 01505 684218 to register as places are limited.”

Taking a co-design approach, the hubs have been developed with insight and expertise from local teams and library members to ensure services are tailored to community needs.  Funding granted from The John Lewis Partnership’s £1m Circular Future Fund has been used for the equipment, training and space upgrades needed to deliver these promising projects.

Following their launch, each library hub will also introduce an education programme to support new skills development, helping to reduce inequality through equitable access to resources. The first focus will be on ‘mending’, with a series of sewing workshops and repair cafes already underway.

Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC) said:  

“And at a time when all of Scotland’s communities are experiencing economic and environmental challenges, the role of public libraries has never been more important.

“The introduction of the Lend and Mend network has the potential to create a real impact.  Receiving over 40 million visits every year, the Scottish public are familiar with borrowing from libraries, but don’t always have the opportunity to extend this circular thinking to other aspects of their lives, for example how they use household goods and clothing.

“We hope this pilot will help develop a long-term model for libraries to be a hub of circular economy activities, while also providing valuable learnings to promote the urgent need to adopt a more circular way of living more widely for the long-term benefit of us all.”

Resident uses sewing machines at Lend and Mend hub Kilbirnie Library

To find out more, visit and follow the development at Stay tuned to North Ayrshire Libraries Facebook page @NorthAyrshireLibraries for more updates on the pilot.

Read about the eco-friendly Seed Library at Stevenston in the next Staff Talk article…

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.