Plastic-Free's 2021 round-up
This year we introduced Sustainable Swaps! Our tried and tested, honest reviews of plastic-free alternatives to introduce into your daily life. We use our quick 5-point rating system: starting at 5-stars when we think the swap is better than the traditional item and finishing at 1-star if we think it’s a total waste of money and time (thankfully we’ve not had a rating that low yet). With 14 weeks of reviews so far, I’m sure anyone can find something new to try and reduce their plastic footprint.
You can check them out on our social media and read the committee’s favourites here.
Online you may have also seen Plastic-Free UoB featured in the Hype Collective. We were lucky enough to be included in their showcase of sustainable societies and share our thoughts on sustainability, the importance of student interest and some of our top sustainability tips.
Back on campus, we’ve become very familiar with marquees and halls again, attending plenty of fairs and interacting with new and familiar faces. Plastic-Free UoB were especially lucky to be invited to the University’s first Sustainability Town Hall, alongside a selection of sustainable student groups, organisations, researchers and initiatives. We placed the future at the forefront of the event by allowing attendees to submit their views to our suggestion box and talk about the biggest issues the local area faces with single-use plastics and what we can do to change this. The whole day was engaging and insightful, meeting a new range of staff and students and forming new ideas for the term ahead.
We came together for our first ‘eco-friendly’ in October to get back to our roots and watch our icon Sir David Attenborough show the damaging effects of plastic waste in Blue Planet 2. An evening of baked goods and friendly company was something we had all missed last year and we are so grateful to be seeing each other in person again.
Plastic-Free has not been confined to the University…we’ve also been getting all over Birmingham with our trips to the Clean Kilo and The Exchange. In October, a group of us visited the Clean Kilo in Bournville to get a grasp on zero waste shopping and let people know how easy it is to make switches to their shop. In November, we went to the ‘Late Night Talks’ at the University’s new centre for showcasing research – The Exchange. There we listened to a wide range of academics share their insights into climate change following COP26 in Glasgow. From biology to behavioural science, the evening shared new perspectives and drove home the crucial importance of climate change action.
As a society, we are starting to see the positive impacts of our litter picks in the local area. We braved the elements for the first litter-pick of the year by the Vale’s canals. To our surprise, the area had improved vastly since we were last there in 2019/20. Though there was less to pick than usual, this gave us the opportunity to mingle and get to know all our new attendees. Next up, we channelled our energy towards Aston-Webb Boulevard – finding everything from crisp packets to an entire printer! Particular thanks go out to the Pro Bono Society who collaborated with us for November’s litter pick as part of their week of global action. The dismay of a seemingly endless array of litter was offset by the pleasure of introducing a whole new group of students to litter picking and the work we do at Plastic-Free UoB.
As a final round-off to this term, we’d like to thank the generosity of UOB’s Student Culture Fund in awarding us funding to purchase more litter picking equipment to expand our efforts in cleaning up Birmingham. As a free society, opportunities such as these are invaluable. It means we can continue to be inclusive to all students, staff and members of the community in joining in with Plastic-Free and continue to take the steps to transition to a University free from single-use plastics.
We eagerly look forward to the next term, where we will have plenty more collaboration with groups across the University. Stay engaged with what we’re up to on Instagram or Facebook and as always you can get in touch at Plasticfreeuob@gmail.com.
Warm wishes from the whole Plastic-Free team.
Written by Cameron Humphreys
President of Plastic-Free UoB
To find out more about Plastic-Free UoB visit their society website.
There are 41 student groups in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. To learn more about their projects and activities head to the EPS Societies homepage.