The Leith Collective
1772. Sara Thomson
Sara Thomson, from Edinburgh, created ‘The Leith Collective’, bringing together artists and craftmakers to promote sustainability by reusing, recycling, and reselling items that would otherwise go to landfill.
Sara was inspired to launch the collective in lockdown after seeing how quickly single-use plastics gloves and masks were being discarded on local beaches and roadsides, and wanting to build a positive platform demonstrating how sustainability and creativity can work side-by-side together. Through the collective, Sara runs the UK’s first plastic-free shop, based in Leith, which showcases work by over 140 artists and makers based across Scotland. The collective also hosts sustainability workshops, and has run a series of other initiatives to provide wider support for the Leith community, such as a coat exchange in aid of local charities and homeless hostels, and the donation of over a thousand masks for free to schools and charities in the area.
In a personal letter to Sara, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“As we head towards COP26 and rally the world to reach net zero, each one of us has a part to play. We have to find another way of going about our lives – and your initiative ‘The Leith Collective’ is a brilliant example of how to make sustainability accessible for your community, with the UK’s first plastic-free shop.
“We need to move from aspiration to action, and I am delighted to recognise you as a climate leader who is helping to make the UK greener and cleaner.”
“I am honoured to receive this award and even more excited that the sustainability message we started in Edinburgh has managed to reach such levels and help educate so many communities and young people, and shine a light on the creative industries for all the amazing work we do.”