Two island businesses are well on the way to a much greener future, after getting support for their environmental efforts from a Government grant scheme.

Essence of Harris and Sandwick Bay Candles are two of 20 businesses from across Scotland’s islands to have been awarded cash for sustainability by Zero Waste Scotland, the agency leading in Scotland’s quest to use products and resources responsibly. 

The businesses, together with Barra’s Bùth Bharraigh, have had a slice of £253,283.00 awarded to island businesses as part of the Islands Green Recovery Scheme.

Essence of Harris is planning for a post-Covid launch of their new refilling stations, using sustainable materials from the word go for a high-quality presentation.

Their shops in Tarbert and Princes Square, Glasgow are to have refill stations made of copper piping salvaged from decommissioned plumbing, topped and tailed with leather.

Company founder Jamie MacGowan said: “We are working with Angels’ Share Glass in central Scotland to produce handblown glass vessels which are 100% sustainable.

“The whole bath and body range, and our hand sanitisers, will be refillable at the stations at our Glasgow and Tarbert stores.”

Sandwick Bay Candles founder Megan Macdonald plans to both cut packaging and to expand her range of products in response to her award of £10,000.

The company already pours their candles into aluminium tins and glass jars, and they sell soap and similar products in glass bottles.

Megan said: “We had already reduced the amount of plastic in the business, but now we aim to set up a refill station where people can bring back our empty containers, or any container, and get a refill of the product.

“At the same time, we have questioned some of our existing customers on what products they would most like to see and now we plan to expand our range to include laundry liquid, washing-up liquid and surface cleaner.

“We have the advantage of being in Stornoway, so people can call in for their refills at the same time as they are doing their routine shopping in the town, meaning no extra travel and keeping the carbon footprint low that way, as well.”

A new refill station is under design and Megan hopes to have the service, and the new products, ready for launch by the end of March – government guidelines allowing.

The £2 million Islands Green Recovery Scheme is part the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2020-21, designed to inspire locally-led green projects designed to help support the islands recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Zero Waste Scotland will add funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

A spokesperson for Zero Waste Scotland said: “Scottish island communities have been bearing witness to the incredible damage plastic pollution is having on our marine ecosystems and shorelines. 

“These communities have to bear the double burden of dealing with importing single-use items and then the shipping off of waste. Now, with the Islands Green Recovery Programme, they can play a leading role in developing solutions.”

Pictures show refillable bottles from Sandwick Bay Candles and at Essence of Harris.