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Scotland North Programme Action

Regional News



‘O the month of May, the merry month of May’

This month you will be all looking at what your club will be doing regarding Programme Action during this new session, 2021/2022. I hope you will put a plan together that shows that Soroptimists in Scotland North Region are working to educate, empower and enable women and girls everywhere to reach their full potential. Also please report all your project work as it is a vital tool in maintaining our Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

I also represent Scotland North at the UK Programme Action Committee and we are now talking at our meetings about the work all our clubs are doing. Each meeting will also be themed. Our next meeting (end of June) will be focusing on the Environment – so please report (put on database!) any work you are doing in order that I have something to talk about!

The Environment is very important and it is a theme I will continue to write about in these Spotlights. ‘Friends of the Earth’ are questioning whether Scotland will ban single-use plastics in 2021? Single-use plastic items are a symbol of our throwaway culture, but by next year, many of these ’disposable’ items will be banned across Europe. They say: Scotland is going backwards on waste and the rush to incineration threatens to lock us into a low-recycling, high-carbon, resource-wasting future.

Scotland has become a leading plastic producer. Since 2016, Ineos’s petrochemical plant in Grangemouth has continued to import large volumes of fracked gas from the United States which they make into plastic. We should question this as it undermines the Scottish Government’s current ban on fracking in Scotland! The Scottish Government has also delayed, by at least 15 months, the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.

We, as Soroptimists, must support the ban on plastic and follow Ireland where they are planning to ban plastic sauce sachets and hotel toiletries along with France who are banning plastic confetti, teabags and free plastic toys which are given away. What we need is for Scotland to move to a circular economy with the reintroduction of the Circular Economy Bill moving to high rates of reuse, repair and recycling. What this means is that we keep materials circulating for as long as possible before becoming waste so we can reduce the amount of materials we are extracting from the earth’s limited resources.

Look around you… there is no garbage in nature!

Manufacturing companies are beginning to design long-lasting, easily maintainable and repairable products by reducing packaging and redesigning those products that cannot be safely reused, recycled or composted.

Litter is another question and cleaning up litter is costly to the economy. If waste is disposed by the public at the correct places, cleaning the waste becomes fairly simple for the personnel involved. However, when there is litter that needs cleared up, extra funds are needed to pay people to properly clean up the littered locations. Litter clean-ups cost the economy significantly more than cleaning up waste disposed of responsibly in the proper manner. Which brings me to another interesting project………

BIN TWINNING and Put a Lid on Poverty…………………..
BIn‘In the world’s poorest countries, a person dies every 30 seconds from diseases caused by plastic pollution and rubbish..’

Two billion people do not have their rubbish collected. So how about twinning your Bin? Are you looking for an usual gift to give someone? Twinning a Bin costs £45 ………..and, it helps to save lives and protect the planet.

Bin Twinning funds the work of international relief and development agency Tearfund, preventing disease, protecting the environment and providing jobs.

You receive a sticker to put on your bin showing it is twinned with a project in: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Nigeria or Pakistan.

Without proper rubbish collection and disposal services, people living in poverty are at risk. They are likely to become sick as open burning of waste produces smoke and toxic fumes.

Discarded waste creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and vermin, spreading diseases such as malaria and typhoid. Repeated bouts of sickness and disease mean families become trapped in poverty. Some resort to bonded labour to get the money they need to live.

Natural hazards such as flooding, which already hit the poorest people hardest – are made worse by drains and waterways being clogged with waste.

This project contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s):
3 – Good health and well being by preventing respiratory diseases, diarrhoea and infections.
11 – Sustainable cities & communities by contributing to sustainable urbanisation.
12 –Responsible Consumption and Production. That is recycling waste and reducing release of pollutants into water and the air.
14 – Life Below Water. Reducing the volume of plastics reaching our Oceans.


HOWEVER, we must also reduce our own waste because we are all in this together. The whole of the UK also has a waste problem.

The UK produces 26.4 million tonnes of waste each year. It is estimated that we throw away almost 300 billion pieces of plastic each year and that equates to over 4,000 pieces per person. Most of it is not recyclable. UK households also waste 4.5 tonnes of food each year.

What can YOU do?
1. Stop buying disposable wipes – switch to reusable cloths which these days come in organic cloth or bamboo.
2. Opt for cleaning products available in concentrated form which you dilute with water at home. Or, make your – own see below*
3. Stop using cling film. Buy or make your own reusable beeswax food wraps.

Simple all-purpose cleaner.
Put Half a cup of vinegar into a spray bottle.
Add 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon Castille Soap (liquid soap), Add 20 drops of lemon essential oil,
Add optional Rosemary sprigs.
Shake and Spray.

I Challenge you all to a plastic FREE MAY, by avoiding single-use plastic packaging. The target takeaway items are: NO Bags, NO plastic bottles, NO plastic straws and, NO Coffee Cups.

Enjoy a Plastic Free Picnic. Hold a plastic free lunch or picnic with friends..safely within any government guidelines on social distancing.

Challenge everyone to bring along their own picnic that does NOT include any single use plastic – ie no cling film, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic straws or disposable cups, no crisp packets or plastic sweet wrappers.

But remember to have fun and explain to all about the challenge. Ask others to take note on how much plastic there is in their lives. Take time to discuss the challenge. Was it difficult for you? Do you know where your throwaway plastic goes? Can we sustain our reduction of plastic use?

We live in a world that is driven by consumption. When we demonstrate by our actions that we want to live in a less wasteful world, we are sending a powerful signal that we want decision – makers to act. We have the opportunity to use both our voices and our choices as citizens and consumers to urge governments and companies to make changes that will help people in poverty.

Our Actions do have an impact.

Each single use plastic item we save is one less thing in a landfill site, ocean or incinerator – one less thing shipped overseas for another country to dispose of. Since China closed its borders to other countries recycling waste in 2018, the UK has exported plastic waste to other countries in Asia. Concerns have been raised and the UK’s Environment Agency has been investigating claims of fraud and corruption and some allegations that the imported waste is not being recycled. International legislation under The Basel Convention has been recently amended so that source countries must ensure appropriate recycling facilities are in place before sending it to other countries.

OR, WE reduce our own 26.4 million tonnes of waste produced by UK households each year and single use plastic must be eradicated by 2030.

WE CAN DO THINGS differently and the sooner the better for us all.

Please sign up to a Plastic Free May, either as individuals or as Clubs. Keep motivated during the challenge and remember to send me your stories.


This is a Scottish Charity working hard to support Scottish Families. Before the pandemic, around 1 in 4 children in Scotland were living in poverty. Today, there are many more families across the country struggling to make ends meet and risk falling deeper into poverty.

Families are reaching out to this charity for help with:
60% unable to feed their children
50% could not afford to keep their homes warm for their children 29% could not afford children’s clothing
21% did not have a bed for their children to sleep in
10% need baby supplies and milk

The pandemic has caused income opportunities to dry up overnight, with widespread redundancies, reductions in working hours and dependency on Universal Credit which often means a minimum 5 week wait for payment. Families have been left without the means to provide the basics for their children. There has been a 1400% rise in applications to Aberlour for support. The problem is not going to go away any time soon. The furlough scheme is expected to end in September 2021 and Aberlour expect demand for funding to rise again.

Aberlour have started a petition demanding the Scottish Government overcome poverty, disadvantage and, discrimination and that the Scottish Child Payment is doubled to £20 per child per week to help low-income families survive. It is estimated that this action could lift 20,000 children out of poverty. It cannot be right that these families in Scotland are being forced to choose between feeding or clothing their children, or, heating their homes.


Aberlour are there for the long haul, creating positive partnerships with families through genuinely listening to them, understanding their needs, and jointly finding solutions to challenges they experience.




Have you planted your trees yet?

As of 31st March, a total of 11,707 trees have been planted across the world…..we aim to plant 100,000.

There is an interactive tree planting app on the SIGBI website and so far IN SCOTLAND, S I Crieff and S I Perth have two little blue circles each showing you what they have planted. A link will also be in the next briefing along with a short form which should be filled in.

You can find stories of tree planting by our SIGBI clubs by going to the Centenary Tree Planting project on the SIGBI website. You will also find some useful resources. There are information sheets to view and download (purple circle), information on the Webinar Series (black circle), and details how to download a certificate or how to order a commemorative plaque (Brown circle).

What if you cannot plant trees locally but still want to contribute?

Individually, why not plant a tree in your garden. Or, help me to raise funds to plant Mangroves. Mangroves protect the shorelines, prevent soil erosion, form a rich habitat for biodiversity, bear fruits which are edible as well as medicinal and provide opportunities for livelihoods.

S I South Kolkata’s project is to raise a wall of mangroves along the delta at the head of the Bay of Bengal, as they are viewed as their protectors which can arrest the rate of climate change in that area, thus preventing low lying areas from being washed into the sea.

I will, of course, end with…….please do not forget to share the details of your project by completing a Programme Focus form using the title #Plant Trees and entering it onto the database. brilliant-future/

Janice Wilson 

Programme Action Chair

Soroptimist International Scotland North.