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Waste and Zero Waste Shopping

Living with less waste

Around 300 million tonnes of waste comes from UK households each year. This is equivalent in weight to 3.5 million double decker buses. We’re overwhelming our recycling systems and landfill sites, and, with around 40% of UK plastic waste exported abroad, we’re overwhelming countries overseas too.

The average person in the UK produces around 400kg of waste a year - imagine the impact if we worked to bring this national average down!

Food Donation on Campus

According to Zero Waste Scotland's researchLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, "almost one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted every year, contributing around 8% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Preventing food waste could save the average household £437 per year, and would have the same positive impact on reducing C02 equivalent emissions as taking 1 in 4 cars off the road."

Since 2019, we've donated over 5 tonnes of food to local food banks - these food items were collected at the end of term after students moved out. 

In the 2023/24 academic year, we’re trialling a more proactive donation process that provide students the opportunity to: 

  • Reduce their environmental impact - "Ensuring you use up all of the food you buy and let none of it go to waste is a key way to reduce your carbon footprint and help tackle climate change.” (Love Food Hate Waste) 
  • Help their local community – Food Bank users said: "The foodbank was there when we really needed it, it was an absolute lifeline." (Coventry Food Bank) & "I will never ever forget the support I had. Food banks may be described as organisations that support people, but they are actually so much more than that. They are literally keeping families alive." (The Trussell Trust) 
  • Contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 

Food shopping

  • Buy fruit and vegetables that aren't wrapped in plastic - visit the local greengrocers or market.
  • Refill containers with various dry goods at local zero stores including cereals, pulses, pasta, rice, baking ingredients, coffees, teas, and sweet treats. It's often much cheaper than you think! You can also visit the Students' Union Zero Waste Link opens in a new windowshop at the SU reception.
  • Bring your own hot drinks cups to campus and benefit from the various discounts available from retail outlets.
  • Take your own food to campus in re-usable boxes.

Cleaning products

  • Use Loofah plant and coconut husks and fibres for scrubbing the dishes. These are biodegradable, durable, plastic free, free from toxic chemicals and naturally antibacterial.
  • Make your own cleaning products using white wine vinegar, baking soda and water.
  • Use refillable cleaning products, which are available at local zero waste stores.

Specialist waste streams

There are lots of local collections of specialist waste streams that you cannot recycle from home. Find out more about these including:

  • Baby food pouches
  • Batteries
  • Bedding
  • Bras
  • Glasses
  • Pet food pouches
  • Pringles tubes
  • Stationary

Personal hygiene and cosmetics

  • You can buy shampoo and conditioner bars, which can last up to 2x longer than normal shampoo.
  • The average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. Try those with bamboo handles, which are biodegradable.
  • Switch your toilet and kitchen rolls to one of the many companies who use recycled paper, manufacture in the UK and fund tree-planting projects.
  • Mooncups, reusable pads etc. are a great sustainable alternative to reduce the amount of period products being flushed away every year.
  • Re-usable razors, where you only replace the blade which can be collected and recycled
  • Re-usable cleansing pads are a helpful swap for normal cotton pads or make up wipes.