Edinburgh Students’ Association first in Scotland to offer 'Zero Waste Corner' in shop

A Students’ Association in Edinburgh has introduced a Zero Waste Corner to its shop – the first of its kind on a university campus in Scotland.

Published 2nd Oct 2019
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The Zero Waste Corner in the David Hume Tower shop at Edinburgh University Students’ Association sells environmentally friendly products and bulk food items, cutting out the need for individual plastic packaging.

The store is filled with pasta, grains, seeds and dried fruit, as well as eco-friendly household products and toiletries.

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The organisers say the customers are encouraged to bring along their own containers to fill them with goods, and reusable containers are also available to purchase in store.

The student organisation said the Zero Waste Corner reflects the recent wave of changes in consumer behaviour, as customers become increasingly conscious of the environmental and ecological impacts of their purchasing habits.

They added that the location at George Square will provide students, staff and visitors with an on-campus option to shop without generating needless waste
through food packaging.

In the UK alone, 210g of plastic waste is produced by each person each day, meaning roughly 350 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, of which only 20 percent is reused.

The shop is one step towards the University’s wider vision of becoming zero waste by 2030, reflected in the #ZeroWasteUoE project, which aims to show students and staff how to waste less, reuse more and recycle effectively.

The idea was initially proposed by Conscious Change, a student-led social enterprise.

Tim Constable Maxwell, co-founder of Conscious Change said: “Individuals often feel powerless in face of the climate crisis. Conscious Change is here to show you that just one person can make a difference. Conscious Change is a social enterprise making it easier for students to live more sustainably in Edinburgh.

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"We aim to provide students with the products, information, knowledge and inspiration they need to make sustainable lifestyle choices. The Zero Waste Corner is providing the future today. At an accessible location for an affordable price, students can now vote for a greener future by shopping here.”

The Zero Waste Corner can be found in the lower ground floor area of DHT and is open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 6pm. It offers the only zero waste shopping opportunity around the popular George Square area.

Dave Gorman, director for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh said: “Congratulations to the Students' Association for opening the first Zero Waste Corner on the University's campuses. Giving students, staff, and visitors a way to purchase goods without packaging is a great way of showing our community how easy it is to reduce waste, embrace the circular economy, and help realise the University's vision to become zero waste by 2030."

Vice president Community Rosheen of the Students Association is delighted with the move, he said: “An aspiration I have in this role is to reduce single use plastic on campus. When I heard from students who got in touch with the idea for the shop, I thought this was a fantastic initiative and shows that there is a need for something like this on University campuses.

"We already have the fortnightly farmers market in Potterrow, as well as Hearty Squirrel co-operative who sell wholesale food and vegetable boxes once a week, and so we are already seeing changes in the way students shop and think about food. This is just the latest in what I hope will be a food revolution!”

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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