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Our Green 2023 Resolutions – What Happened Next?

5 February 2024

5 mins

Guest blog by Helen Taller, on behalf of Loughborough University’s Legal Services team. This post follows on from our previous entry where we identified a series of green pledges to help reduce our negative impact on the world and support progress towards net-zero.  

As we know, a key theme of the University strategy (Creating Better Futures. Together) is Climate Change and Net Zero. Whilst we, alongside other teams across the University, continue to embody our values in our working lives, we are also keen to embody these in our lives beyond Loughborough University. By using the WWF carbon footprint calculator, we each picked out resolutions and pledges for 2023… 

  • Recycle soft plastics that are not collected at kerbside collection services, by keeping them out of the general waste and collecting at home to take to supermarkets with soft plastic recycling collection points.  According to the Big Plastic Count that was undertaken last year by Greenpeace, nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging are thrown away by UK households every year.   
  • Increase biodiversity in the garden through wildflower planting.  This will keep the birds, bees and the butterflies happy – but as a bonus might boost your mood too! 
  • Reduce meat consumption by incorporating regular meat free days into our weeks – According to the UN, global meat consumption must fall if we are to fight climate change. 
  • Start buying household cleaning products from zero waste shops to reduce reliance on single use plastic packaging and support local businesses. 
  • Buy no ‘new’ clothes / shoes in 2023 – second hand only.  According to a report by the charity wrap, £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill in Britain EACH YEAR.  The availability of second-hand clothing / goods has never been greater – with Vinted, Depop, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and of course charity shops to name a few – there are plenty of options! 
  • Buy fresh produce from local shops and businesses instead of supermarkets to reduce plastic packaging and food miles and increase the proportion of organic fruit and vegetables that we buy. 
  • Reduce wasted water by saving the runoff when waiting for water to get hot and using in other ways – for example to water plants, boil veg, etc.  This UNICEF article has some more ideas on ways to save water. 
  • Start using a wonky veg box scheme to reduce wasted produce and unnecessary packaging. 

We were hoping to see these pledges become new habits through 2023, as well as inspiring colleagues to make a green pledge of their own. So how did we do… 

  • Recycling Soft Plastics: Now that we separate our soft plastics (things like plastic wrapping), we were shocked by the vast amount of small plastics a young family gets through! Whilst supermarkets are increasingly offering means of recycling these at their stores, it isn’t always easy to access or quick to actually do – for instance posting individual soft plastics into the recycling unit rather than just popping them all into a bag. Recycling soft plastics is definitely possible – but not yet as easy as it could be! 
  • Enhancing Biodiversity: Protecting space in our gardens for wildflower planting was relatively straightforward. We are yet to see the full rewards of this in light of other work being done in our gardens – however we are hopeful for some beautiful flowers in the spring whilst also increasing biodiversity! 
  • Reduced Meat Consumption: We have had mixed success in ensuring at least half of our weekly meals are vegetarian. Using ‘Wonky Veg Boxes’ (reduced price veg that is grouped together because it doesn’t necessarily look perfect – but tastes the same) was a good way to go about this – for the most part. Whilst they are great value, there is sometimes a lack of variability in the boxes – trying to make meals for the week from just a box of carrots was not straightforward as you can imagine. We found that setting a number of meat-free meals per week was a happier middle ground here. Using the ‘Too Good To Go’ app was a quick win in this area – reducing food waste (for a reduced price) from local shops and cafes. We learnt that a surprising numbers of colleagues around campus are using Olio – another app which further minimises food waste by making specific food items available to reserve or collect.  
  • Zero-Waste & Local Shopping: A couple of the team tried Hello Fresh boxes in an effort to eat healthier and minimise food waste – but were disappointed by the large amounts of non-recyclable packaging in the boxes. By contrast, shopping locally for fruit and vegetables was more successful. We had assumed that buying from a local greengrocers would be far more expensive, but found that the produce is not only cheaper but often lasts longer and tastes better! 
  • No ‘New’ Clothes: We’re pleased to report that this was a great success! It has indeed been possible to not purchase any new ‘1st hand’ clothes. By using apps like Vinted and Depop, we have been giving clothes a second life. It also doesn’t hurt that we could specifically search for the kind of item we needed – definitely one that we would recommend to colleagues.  

Having reflected as a team on how we have (both successfully and unsuccessfully) stuck to our pledges, we hope that colleagues are inspired to have these discussions within their own teams and to get involved in doing something! To lean on the rhetoric of our last blog post: 

After all, “to do good, you actually have to do something”  

(Yvon Chouinard, founder of the company Patagonia).   

If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share with us – please do let us know (   

This article is in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’.  To find out more, click here.

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