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Step Up to Net Zero programme Concludes

Sadly, I’m coming to the end of my placement as Net Zero Coordinator at Free Wheel North, but throughout the last six months I have supported the organisation in taking some positive steps towards their environmental goals. Already embedded within the charity’s ethos is decarbonising lifestyles and considering the environment around us, namely by promoting inclusive cycling and providing a safe and accessible setting where everybody can cycle. In turn, a lot of my work has involved contributing to the organisation’s ongoing projects. In addition to my responsibilities of working towards net zero goals, circularity in cycling and waste management, I have helped with the daily running of the Cycle Centre at Glasgow Green and assisted the groups enjoying the track. To support the long-term sustainability of the organisation, I have also helped with broader goals of net zero which has involved communications for the organisation during city-wide events. This includes promoting active travel and subsequent behavioural change by reducing beneficiaries’ reliance on cars and instead turning to cycling as an alternative means of travel. 


Free Wheel North is part of Wheels for Wellbeing, a network of organisations who campaign for inclusive cycling and remove barriers to enable disabled people to cycle more freely. Attending events run by Wheels for Wellbeing allowed me to see how other organisations are campaigning for improved infrastructure and policies supporting active travel for disabled people that are necessarily underpinned by government support. On behalf of FWN, I joined both Circular Communities Scotland and the Glasgow Climate Action Network. CCS provided me with the opportunity to meet with other cycling organisations and explore the varied work carried out across Scotland including cycling workshops, selling second hand bikes and providing key maintenance for e-bikes, an area of high wastage in the industry. Steps are being taken to collaborate across the diverse organisations to utilise and make the most of the multitude of skills and services provided. So far, Bike for Good have kindly donated three fantastic tricycles to add to our fleet of inclusive cycles and have shared their expertise in increasing resource capacity for cycle maintenance and tips for third sector ambitions. FWN are building ongoing partnerships with other cycle organisations and have plans to open a workshop to support the charity’s revenue streams and to increase the resource capacity for bike repair at the cycle track.

Calculating environmental impact

An ongoing project has been calculating the organisation’s carbon footprint and waste streams to set a baseline of the organisation’s current environmental impact. From there, I have identified different areas for improvement with support from Business Energy Scotland, including improved insulation at The Whitehouse, ensuring that all lighting is LED and continuing the search for financial support for renewable energy technologies. Now that The Whitehouse is up and running as a cafe with the fantastic Brave Bakers taking up residence selling their delicious baked goods, FWN can calculate the site’s energy usage more accurately over the coming months and begin to make positive changes to reduce the energy and subsequent cost of consumption. A number of developments at The Whitehouse are already celebrating circularity, such as the counter in the cafe made from reclaimed wood built by FWN’s partner Boomerang and secondhand furniture utilised throughout. In the long run, the organisation plans for The Whitehouse to serve as an example of best practice for energy efficiency, similar to the innovative work carried out by Agile City at Civic House, a building that generates more power than it consumes.

Waste management is also integral to the positive steps FWN are taking in their sustainability journey. Actions include the reduction of cycle waste and waste management across the charity’s sites. Forming a Green Team at the Cycle Centre early has helped with waste being sorted correctly into general and recycled materials as one way to reduce the amount of materials ending up in landfill.

Environmental policy

With support from FWN’s directors, I wrote an environmental policy to communicate ongoing environmental responsibilities and goals to stakeholders. I embedded key UN Sustainable Development goals into the policy in a way that brings together the interconnections between the organisation’s environmental and social impact. The environmental policy can be found here.

My time at Free Wheel North has set the groundwork for many projects at the organisation, and although I hoped to have achieved more tangible changes during the programme, I hope the steps I have taken contribute to the long-term goals of net zero, circularity and waste management alongside the necessary resources required to achieve them. 


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