1. Why was Armadale chosen for the
Waste Wise Project?
Changeworks Resources for Life (Edinburgh), the Project's initiator
initially proposed to the Scottish Government’s Increase II Programme,
that a trial waste minimization community education programme be
established in two Scottish communities. The funder declined and indicated
that this innovative trial would only be funded in one community. The
socio-economic makeup of Armadale provided an excellent representative
statistical cross-section of a Scottish community as a plus national
waste minimization statistics indicated that the community of Armadale was
in the above average category (that is to reduce, reuse, recycle).
I later discovered that many residents where unaware of this and were
amazed that Armadale had this status.
2. Why were you involved?
Changeworks, the Project's initiator sought a person with community
engagement experience to facilitate the project in Armadale. For Waste
Wise Armadale to succeed meant achieving community buy-in. Because of my
background experience through working with similar communities in NZ,
Changeworks offered me a short-term employment contract.
3. How many people were involved? Residents, Project workers etc…
A difficult question and hard to quantify because we contacted over 1300
households to seek and encourage their participation. Then the Council and
Changeworks schools waste education staff involved several hundred
children through the schools waste free lunch programme. As for staff we
employed 8 Project team workers to assist with the community doorstep
programme. Behind the scenes there were a number of Changeworks and West
Lothian Council staff who contributed to the design, management and
delivery of the programme. My role was the link between these people to
activate community change.
4. How long did preparations take before the Project began?
The Project commenced over nine months before it was launched in the
Armadale community. This involved developing the concept and project
objectives, obtaining funding support, project management, investigating
which community to involve, establishing pre and after project measurement
(research), discussing local authority involvement, project branding and
the project format.
5. For how long did the Project run?
In all from start to finish the Project
would have been spread over 15 months. But the community action part of
the Project in Armadale was only 6 months.
6. What sort of reception did you receive in Armadale?
Personally I was humbled by the reception from those Armadalians that I
met. While the publicity was targeted at the whole community of Armadale,
the door-stepping (the direct community contact) part of the Project was
with only a part (1331 households) of Armadale.
It really gave me a buzz as community involvement increased and Waste Wise
was accepted. It was great to be recognized in the street particularly by
the youngsters as being part of Waste Wise programme.
Sadly as with any community, a very small minority of those that we
visited through the door stepping programme showed no interest in
supporting Armadale and its involvement in the Waste Wise Project. More
importantly they obviously had no interest in the impact that we are
having on our planet and the causes of global warming.
5. What were your expectations before the Project?
When facilitating community projects such as Waste Wise you must believe
in the project and its ability to succeed.
There were a number of indicators why I believed Waste Wise could succeed
in Armadale. These were (in no particular order):
An active and identifiable community.
The cross-section of age groups.
Excellent inter-actions between local schools and the community.
Being a trial project part of the Waste Wise aim was to see what worked
best and what didn’t; how the community responded; and what goals and
outcomes were achieved. This meant that there was no right or wrong boxes
to tick but the project would provide a better insight to how similar
projects may proceed in the future.
6. What disappointed you re the Project?
Little. Again the Waste Wise Project had no right or wrong answers. Waste
Wise Armadale was a trial project to allow Changeworks to measure what was
achieved, how the community responded and what worked best and what did
As with any trial project of this nature it was required to work within
its budgetary constraints. This did provide some challenges and belt
tightening. The Waste Wise planning team met regularly to chart progress
and redirect its resources/budget as necessary.
7. What responses surprised you in Armadale?
The enthusiasm and impact of Armadale's young people, particularly through
the messages of waste minimization activities in local schools. This is
obviously having a carry-over effect in their homes. All credit to school
staff for promoting, encouraging and maintaining this commitment. The
Council and Changeworks schools waste education staff should also be
acknowledged here for their support.
Plus not forgetting the willingness of the majority of Armadale businesses
for their interest, discussions and support to display Waste Wise Armadale
Project information. One business broke its rule of not displaying
community information, by allowing the “Armadale Whale” to be displayed.
The community impact of driving a truck with over one ton of rubbish
(representing an average family’s annual waste), in the Gala Day Parade.
This brought many on-going comments from residents, who were then aware about how much waste we create.
8. What pleased you………?
Finding a hospitable community and not believing the negative comments
about Armadale before arriving in Armadale. Enjoying many cosmopolitan
discussions with residents. Also pleasing about Waste Wise (because it was
a trial project), were the number of facts and points identified that need
to be considered for any similar future following project.
9. What did you learn personally from the Project?
Having been immersed in the Waste Wise Project has increased my concerns
for our environment and particularly global warming. No community project
is the same so as for fronting Waste Wise there were many benefits that I
can draw on from this experience. It also brought home that for a Waste
Wise type project to succeed you need a marketing plan that has the impact
of telling a person that they cannot afford not to participate.
10. What were the Project’s official results?
Firstly there was SIS Tech’s project evaluation, which can be sourced from
Changeworks web page. This was the technical research summary giving a
theoretical project evaluation. It gives a range of outcomes based on its
survey and measurement results in the control areas of Armadale and
Broxburn. Probably the two most obvious outcomes are that a 6.1% decrease
in waste occurred during Waste Wise and after the conclusion of Waste Wise
34.3% recalled the Project.
Changeworks as the Project's initiator also completed its own summary.
This was to analyse community responses, how the Project functioned and
also to identify how management and planning succeeded or failed. Again
this can be sourced from Changeworks web page
As a trial project I personally felt that much was gained that may help
future projects. As one example showed, residents were well aware of
recycling, but not of the waste hierarchy that includes reduce and reuse.
This pointed to a greater need to educate all to understand just what
reduce, reuse, recycle means.
11. In the light of your Armadale experience, if you were to conduct
such a project again, what would you do differently?
It was difficult just terminating the Waste Wise Armadale Project because
the trial project ended. I felt it left those who were actively
participating up in the air. From a marketing angle the message needed to
be maintained particularly to encourage the swingers (not the converted)
to continue to reduce, reuse, recycle. It was like we created this
innovative community project, got buy in (we did explain it was a short
term trial) and then left town. I would in future check out how and if a
community group had the capacity to maintain and facilitate the project.
12. What is your lasting impression of Armadale?
Among my memories are: a fast expanding community with many willing people
(particularly volunteers) contributing to Armadale's infrastructure. The
Gala Day experience and the excitement it brings to the town. The
friendliness of its people.
13. Any message for the people you met in Armadale?
Those that are converted to the Waste Wise message, please encourage your
neighbours, family and friends to become waste wise and show that Armadale
cares about diminishing its waste. The challenge for Armadale is to
surpass Aberdeen and Stirling as Scotland’s top waste minimization
communities. Many in Armadale were not aware that its residents' waste
minimization practices meant it was one of the top reduce, reuse, recycle
communities in Scotland.
14. Anything else I haven’t thought of?!
What should the residents of Armadale cherish more?
I’ve already mentioned the Gala Day. I don’t think many in Armadale
including the West Lothian Council really appreciate the Armadale (your)
website and the value as a communication tool.
I would also hope that Armadale doesn’t become a dormitory suburb of the
big cities nearby and that it maintains its own character and community
Maintaining its pride of place as a top Scottish community at waste
Thanks, Paul. I think that your
responses have given Armadalians, and other website visitors, much to
think about. From the viewpoint of many involved in the Project,
much of its success was down to your positive approach, your committed
involvement and, particularly, your dogged determination no matter what
hurdles you had to overcome!
It has been a pleasure to 'talk' to
you again. Perhaps an alternative Armadale's slogan should be:
lot from Paul; even more from Armadale!
If anyone has views about the Project,
Back to Waste Wise