Introducing, People of Shrub!

By Amy Webster, posted 08/02/21

Wondering how People of Shrub got started? Amy Webster explains it all.

When we share our stories, what it does is, it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us the sense that we are not alone on this journey - Janine Shepherd.

Join us, as we chat to the people who make up the Shrub community. Staff, volunteers, members and everyone that steps into the hub, is a valued part of our community and our mission - a world without waste. While we share attitudes and interests pertaining to waste, sustainability and the environment - we all have different stories, backgrounds and motivations. People of Shrub hopes to share the wonderful thoughts, feelings and stories from our wonderful community, in the hope to inspire you and remind you that you are not alone on this journey.

The first day I volunteered for Shrub, an afternoon shift in the SwapShop, I was incredibly nervous. As a flaming introvert, new to Edinburgh, struggling to understand a thick Scottish accent; the shift was daunting. Putting myself out there and meeting new people is intimidating. I’ve done it thousands of times before, always coming away feeling happy and slightly accomplished, but this time was different. This time I was overseas, struggling with a pandemic, emotionally drained and keen to meet like-minded, kind people. When I walked into Shrub I was met with warm welcomes, friendly hub tours and patient instructions. When I left Shrub, I was left with a warm feeling, a feeling of familiarity and like-mindedness that I had missed.

Google led me to Shrub, an email to Syd led me to volunteer, and a zoom meeting led me to the Comms Working Group. When the topic came up for a project focused on the incredible people who are a part of Shrub, I knew I wanted to help. With a background in photography and a want to get to know the community, the project seemed perfect. My only hesitation was my introverted qualities that make conversing with new people (beyond small talk) a bit intimidating.

The inspiration for People of Shrub stems from Humans of New York. A photoblog and book of street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City by the wonderful Brandon Stanton. We aimed to share with a wider audience just how special the Shrub community is, how varied every person’s stories are, and hopefully resonate similarities that make us feel more connected.

‘It’s kind of spiritual actually. We need to change our ways, we need to change the way we think, the way we do things. Volunteering is very rewarding, I feel useful, I work for the community. I play music as well as volunteer here and I think it makes a big change. I used to say if everybody, everybody, would volunteer for three hours a month, just three hours a month, this world would change immensely. I do this because if you are to be the change - be the example for that change. It’s more like in the spiritual path and the change that I think we need - sustainability, no profit. Everybody gains instead of just one, if you work in a team everybody wins.’

Meet Paulo! Paulo volunteers in our cafe and is our resident DJ. In our cafe you can get tasty hot or cold drinks, but most wonderfully, you’ll find a welcoming space for the whole community. Join our Shrubby Moments of Music Facebook page for music recommendations and to catch Paulo livestreaming DJ sets throughout lockdown.

With camera in tow, I ask a few general questions followed by some more thoughtful ones about motivations, inspirations, challenges and journey. If awareness of climate change/environmental problems/waste/etc was a room - each person walked into that room from a different door, down very different hallways called life. The differences and similarities in the answers hit me most. My similarities, the nuggets that I related too - made me feel connected, rational and welcome. The differences, the different doors we had walked through, opened my eyes to a new perspective and a new inspiration. And that was exciting.

My first interview was with the incredible Deirdre and we had a 15 minute chat that I’d told her would only be a few minutes. We have very different stories, different lives up until the point that put us in the same room at the same time. Yet we were there for the same reasons, a passion for waste and the environment, and a love for the community. The nerves and reservations I felt before the interview were gone by the end and that’s a testament to Deirdre’s warmth and the wonderful people that make up the Shrub community. To say it has personally inspired me would be an understatement. Hers and every interview since has been an amazing opportunity for me to learn and I am very excited to share them.

I hope that there is something, no matter how tiny, that readers can relate to, feel connected to, and feel inspired by.

Should you wish to be apart of our People of Shrub project, in person or virtually, please contact Amy on or virtually via the link . The project is open not only to staff, volunteers and members but to anyone who has been into the hub - everyone is part of the Shrub community!

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.