Don’t waste chance to get involved

Karen Cannard
Karen Cannard
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Congratulations to this year’s A-level students. It was great to see the fabulous results in last week’s news.

An exciting time of transition now lies ahead, including for those who are going forth to university - an opportunity to explore your dreams, make new friends and follow your passions in a new academic setting.

This side of the county certainly delivers its fair share of passionate students. Amongst them, as demonstrated by the voices of many who I have met, there is a proven commitment to environmental issues and a strong desire to create positive change. And for those who want to take further action in this area, there will be plenty of pathways available through Student Unions as well as other groups right across the country.

For students who are specifically interested in reducing waste, the good news is that smart ideas are taking shape in universities and city communities all over the UK, with brilliant projects with which you can get involved.

ON CAMPUS

It may feel premature to think about it before you’ve even moved in but at the end of each term universities have to manage the waste impact of unwanted stuff that many students throw in the bin. Zero Waste Halls is a recycling scheme that helps students do something about it, enabling stuff such as unwanted shoes, clothes, food, cutlery, electrical equipment and even mattresses to be passed onto others who might need them. Visit www.peopleandplanet.org/goinggreener/zero-waste-halls

IN THE CITY

If fighting food waste is your thing, check out the great work of food redistribution charity FareShare (www.fareshare.org.uk), which collects unsold food from retailers and manufacturers to redistribute to local charities. You’ll also love the Real Junk Food network (www.therealjunkfoodproject.org), which turns surplus produce - that would have otherwise gone to waste - into meals to help those in need. And if you like to dine out on some great-tasting food at an affordable rate, Real Junk Food cafés allow you and your friends to Pay As You Feel in a way that suits your budget. Both charities offer fabulous volunteering opportunities for students who are keen to make a difference.

DOWN ON THE FARM

Continuing on the food rescue theme, FoodCycle (www.foodcycle.org.uk) and Feedback (feedbackglobal.org) have teamed up on a brilliant Farm to Fork initiative, aiming to train over 4,000 young people, aged 18-24, to reclaim unharvested produce through gleaning, and to turn that surplus food into delicious, nutritious three-course meals to be shared with vulnerable people. Feedback’s Gleaning Network organises volunteer groups to collect fresh fruit and vegetables from farms where the products do not meet strict cosmetic standards. Volunteers then join FoodCycle, to help create a three-course meal for people at risk of food poverty and loneliness, where volunteers and guests sit together to share a meal. For more info visit www.feedbackglobal.org/farm-to-fork/

These are just some examples. There are plenty more to discover and regardless of whether you’re going away or staying at home, this time of year is perfect for exploring what else you can do to help fight waste. If waste reduction is new to you, or even if you just want a refresher, September is playing host to three key campaigns that can help.

5-9th – Zero Waste Week (with tips to reduce food waste and save money) – www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

12-18th – Recycle Week (focusing on the Unusual Suspects to see what else you can recycle where you live) - www.recyclenow.com

19-25th – Waste Less Live More Week (organised by Keep Britain Tidy, you’ll find lots more tips for a waste-less lifestyle) - www.wastelesslivemore.com

September blows in new adventures for me too. I’m looking forward to welcoming the very first students at Sybil Andrews when I join as the academy’s librarian. I’m not retiring as a waste geek though. In my additional role as Zero Waste Co-ordinator, there’ll be lots more exciting ideas to share.