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Embrace the Waste

I’d like you all to think back to a time where you got royally p*ssed off at something. Was it today, yesterday or last week? For me, it was the 6th of May 2019.

At this point, I was a 2nd year and living out of college, which meant I was unable to get food from college (but this didn’t stop me trying). On the 6th, I came in at the end of lunch to ask if I could eat the left-overs. I was told no, and then when I asked what they did with the leftover food I was told they simply threw it away.

Threw it away? Threw it away?? There was perfectly good food that could have been given to me, fellow students, staff, or anyone else who needed it, going straight in the bin. I asked college if they could implement a food-waste reduction scheme and was met with a resounding NO.

That really annoyed me, so I went home, made a sign, and decided to protest at my college.

As I protested, I had many of the exec team tell me that my efforts were pointless, as there is no way the college would implement a food-waste reduction scheme. However, every single staff member that saw me protesting told me to keep it up, as they agreed with implementing a food-waste reduction scheme. The most amount of people who joined me in my protest was 3 people…. But after just a week, University College (Castle) agreed to implement ‘Embrace the Waste’. The premise was:

  • Students who live out can come at the last 15 minutes of the meal (initially it was just lunch and dinner on Fridays)
  • Students have to pay a minimum donation of £1 (which goes towards the chosen JCR charity)
  • Students can eat as much left-over food as they want

In just 2 weeks we had raised over £100 for MIND charity and saved 90 meals from going to waste – WOW!

Coming back to university this year, I was told that I could run the scheme on 2 days a week, and only at lunchtimes. For me, this was silly as there are only positives to this scheme; less food is wasted, money is raised for charity, students can get cheap meals, and it encourages students to be a part of college.

However, within just a few weeks of running the scheme this year, again we have raised well over £150 for charity and saved around 100 meals from going to waste.

If all this positivity can come from just one college, imagine the amount of food can be saved and money raised if EVERY catered college implemented this scheme.

That is why I am meeting with Paul Taylor (Head of Catering for Durham University) to discuss this possibility. My goal is to show him overwhelming support for Embrace the Waste.

So you may now be thinking, ‘I want to get involved in this amazing idea’. Well, you’re in luck!

These would be the best ways to show your support for implementing Embrace the Waste in every catered college:

Together, we can all take small steps to make a big impact!

Matthew Unerman

Heya, My name is Matthew Unerman, I am a Castle student, and I am in my final year of university, studying Anthropology. I have a passion for sustainability and environmentalism, and try to expand my knowledge of this by attending events, such as the International Student Energy Summit 2019. My aim in life is to make the world less wasteful.
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