In February we began our sustainability campaign, ‘Food Unpacked’, which aimed to educate students on the amount of single-use plastics in supermarkets, offering tips to reduce this and supporting their desire to implement change.
This campaign idea was based on the research results from last year’s sustainability focus group. The research found that students were worried about the environmental impacts of single-use plastics and wanted to do more to reduce their impact. So we asked two pairs of students to keep all their food packaging for a week, with one group being asked to shop sustainably by avoiding plastic packaging. The difference between the amounts collected was huge, revealing that you can reduce plastic packaging when shopping consciously. Further findings showed that meat and dairy often had a lot of plastic packaging and buying in bulk was a better option to try and avoid excessive packaging.
To illustrate our findings, we held a stall for a week showing all the packaging collected, talking to students about their thoughts on the amount of single-use plastics collected. Many students said they found it hard to avoid buying plastic packaging and wanted supermarkets to lessen the amount of single-use packaging sold to reduce the environmental impacts.
In response to this, we decided to start a petition to send to local supermarkets asking them to reduce the amount of single-use plastics used in store – gathering over 150 signatures so far!
Your 2018-19 Bucks Student Union’s President, Lauren O’Shea, Vice President Student Involvement, Charlie Cotton, Vice President Education Welfare, Georgia Nosal, and Competitive Sports Coordinator, Alana Zukas all helped with the stall which showed students how much plastic waste was accumulated within a week of food shopping.
Students who were involved commented that “It was only after we started keeping all our rubbish that we saw how much useless waste is on the items we buy. Some items were almost like a pass-the-parcel with the amount of unwrapping needed to actually eat any food!”
Please check out our video to find out more!
The campaign showed that is there A LOT of unnecessary single-use plastics in supermarkets, but we also found that students can make small changes which will reduce their own consumption of these.
Based on this we put together these top tips to avoid single-use plastics to help students shop sustainably.
• Bring your own shopping bags
• Buy loose fruit and vegetables
• Choose tins over plastic packaging
• Bring your own water bottle
• Say no to unnecessary plastic packaging
(18 April) We have since sent the signed petitions off to Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons and eagerly await their replies. We will update as and when we receive anything.
(23 April) Over the bank holiday weekend, we received our first response! Sainsbury's were kind enough to write us a letter outlining their sustainability targets and goals to reduce single use plastic (Sainsburys-Response) - we're eagerly awaiting the response from Tesco and Morrisons.
(25 April) Tesco have now responded (Tesco-Response) - we are now awaiting the response from Morrisons.