Our actions to help the climate - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Our actions to help the climate

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Our actions to help the climate Posted Thu 4 November 2021

To mark COP26 happening in our hometown of Glasgow, we asked our musicians and staff what actions they are taking to be more sustainable and help the climate. We hope this blog inspires you to get involved, even if that’s just doing one thing – every little thing does help!
Our actions to help the climate

Going Electric

30% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from transport. By switching to electric vehicles, we can help reduce emissions, whilst still being able to get to where we need to be. With that in mind, the RSNO have partnered with Octopus to provide a salary sacrifice scheme. Many musicians and staff have taken the opportunity to lease a brand-new, yet affordable, electric car, through the scheme.

Getting Crafty

Upcycling is the perfect way to give new life to objects that may have otherwise ended up in landfill. Violinist Lorna has been making hand-made gifts from recycled materials, including coasters out of old music paper photocopies, jewellery beads out of paper and crocheted make-up removal pads out of wool. Sam, our Head of Learning and Engagement, enjoys making baby and toddler rompers out of clothing that has been donated or found in charity shops. Sam is passionate about promoting the slow fashion movement and giving clothes a new lease of life. You can see more of her work here.

On Our Bikes

Many of our musicians and staff have utilised the RSNO’s cycle to work scheme, which helps individuals buy bicycles and encourages green commuting. Violist Katherine chose to cycle wherever she can after deciding to not own a car for environmental reasons, 30 years ago. One of her most recent cycles was from Dundee to Aberdeen for an RSNO concert! Violinist Anne also chooses to cycle as much as possible. During the Autumn break, Anne and her family cycled from their home up to the East coast of Scotland – a 100-mile journey! Passing through Falkirk, Edinburgh and Musselburgh, the 4-day trip took her family through tunnels, via aqueducts and very narrow paths along the canal. Although challenging, Anne and her family agreed that it was amazing fun and a great adventure!

If you’d like to start cycling more, Sustrans offers lots of great advice and information about the National Cycle Network.

More Veg Please!

Current research suggests that one of the biggest ways to help the planet is to eat less meat. According to a Scientific Reports study, if everyone in the USA reduced their consumption of meat by a quarter, the country would save approximately 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Many of our musicians and staff have chosen to eat less meat and have in some cases become vegetarian or vegan to help the climate. Our Principal Piccolo player Janet even grows her own fruit and veg in her allotment!

All Aboard

The RSNO works in partnership with ScotRail, the Orchestra’s Principal Transport Provider, to help reduce the environmental impact of our touring schedule. Our musicians and staff regularly take the train to concerts and events, and we actively encourage concertgoers to take public transport to our performances.

Tackling Plastic

It can take 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. This staggering figure highlights the importance of reducing our use of single-use plastics. Many of us at the RSNO are doing this through replacing single-use with reusable bottles, cups and containers, and shopping at zero-waste/refill stores. Violist David uses his local zero-waste shop because they don’t use plastic packaging at all – they refill containers or use paper bags. He says it reminds him of his childhood, when milk was delivered to the door in glass reusable bottles by a battery powered milk cart! Jenny, our Head of Individual Giving & Partnerships has switched to getting deliveries of toilet roll from Who Gives A Crap. No plastic wrapping whatsoever and they deliver in bulk to your doorstep, plus 50% of the company’s profits go towards building toilets and improving sanitation in developing countries.

Many plastics that are not recycled end up in landfill or in our oceans. Jess, our Marketing Manager, regularly takes part in beach cleans when visiting family in Cornwall. This year, she has joined Surfers Against Sewage for their Million Mile Clean – the charities’ biggest community campaign yet. Find out more about the campaign and join us in cleaning up Britain’s beautiful coast here.

Trees for Life 

To mark the start of COP26, we were delighted to announce our new partnership with Trees for Life. The trees in our grove will be planted in protected sites in the Scottish Highlands, helping us off-set our touring activities whilst creating homes for wildlife and forests for the future. Find out more about our grove here.


To find out about the RSNO’s Commitment to the Environment, read our Environmental Policy.

Picture credits L-R: Lorna Rough, Jessica Cowley, Cotton & Cord Clothing, Octopus Electric Vehicles, Anne Bünemann, Lorna Rough, Martin Shields, Surfers Against Sewage / @hrb_l_photography

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