One of the biggest sources of waste for individuals, and particularly plastic waste, comes from packaging. It is often the very definition of single use, being thrown away moments after being used and can be tricky to recycle, especially if you are out and about.
Packaging is one of the means by which plastics get into our oceans and even into our food systems. And the climate impact of all that additional packaging is often overlooked – not only is plastic packaging usually derived from fossil fuels, both the production and shipping of packaging creates greenhouse gases that contribute towards climate change.
That’s part of the reason that the University has its Plastic Free 2023 pledge, which aims to remove single use plastic from University operations by 2023. And the good news is that we can all make a dent in this waste through simple, everyday actions and the way that we shop.
For starters, carrying a refillable water bottle means you can top it up for free all over campus. For hot drinks, bring a reusable coffee cup – you can buy them in all campus outlets and you’ll even get a discount off your coffee.
Bringing your own lunch can save you money and reduce waste, but if you’re buying out and about then look for lower packaging options. We can speak volumes with our wallets about what we want retailers to stock – the more that we all purchase more sustainable options, the more options retailers will provide.
When it comes to grocery shopping it can feel impossible to avoid the tidal wave of packaging on the supermarket shelves. But there are alternatives, in the form of the increasing number of zero waste or refill shops.
As well as reducing packaging waste, shopping in refill stores can reduce food waste by allowing you to buy just what you need. You’ll be reducing your climate impact, and supporting the local economy as well. It can seem daunting at first, but it’s really quite simple, and staff are always happy to help – just ask!
We asked our Sustainability Community for their favourite zero or low waste retailers across Leeds – why not try them out for yourself?
On campus: LUU student society Green Action run a zero waste store in the Leeds University Union building offering cost price ethical groceries. It is usually open at lunchtimes during the week and is staffed by volunteers. As well as shopping local, you can also get involved and help out both with their store and with other activities such as their allotment on Woodhouse Moor.
City centre: Panda Refills is based in Kirkgate Market, and has a wide range of dry goods, tea/coffee, snacks and even sweets! Bring your own containers. They offer local delivery and click and collect.
City centre / Bramley: Ecotopia have two stores, one in central arcade in Leeds city centre, and another in Bramley. Their range includes subscriptions for products you use on a regular basis which can be delivered straight to your door, and even pet products!
Hyde Park: The Leeds Refills store at Hyde Park corner offers dry goods refills, cleaning products, toiletries and homewares. You can bring your own containers or use one of theirs, and they also offer free local deliveries for postcodes between LS1 and LS28 for orders over £35, with your deliveries arriving by cargo bike!
Chapel Allerton: The Refilling Station has a store in Chapel Allerton and in Harrogate, as well as click and collect and they are also testing delivery within a 2.5km radius. They stock natural foods, ethical groceries, refills, eco-friendly bathroom products and household items.
Horsforth: As well as offering a wide range of zero and low waste goods, Zerø Muda in Horsforth also channels its profits back into community initiatives.
Otley: Like Nana Did in Otley offers a range of dry goods as well as toiletries, cleaning products, loose tea and coffee and low waste gifts. They also offer next day local delivery.
Shipley: Refill Shipley deliver ethical body care and cleaning products locally, and collect their bottles to refill. They deliver to BD10, 16, 17 and 18 postcodes.
Saltaire: Saltaire is a great spot for a weekend trip away from Leeds, so even if you don’t live close you could still pop in to Mr Whetstone to pick up low and zero waste groceries, cleaning products and toiletries.
Skelmanthorpe: A little further afield near Huddersfield, Grow Refill Store sells store cupboard essentials, eco homewares and self care products, and can deliver within an 8 mile radius. They even have a dedicated gluten free section!
Can’t see a refill store near you? Check out this map to see if there’s one that suits!