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Zero Waste Shop Opens in Student Union

Initiative Aims to Decrease Food Waste Amid Rising Costs

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo by Ainhoa Burgos Aguilera

A new zero waste shop has opened on the ground floor of the Student Union Building. The initiative, which is run by AUSA, will allow students to stock up on essential goods at a discounted rate. The shop will be open each Monday from 12.30-3.30.

A spokesperson told The Gaudie: “Students can bring along an empty container and fill up on staple ingredients like vegetables, snacks, and eco-friendly products – helping to save money whilst also helping the environment by eliminating the need for single-use plastics.”

The new shop is one of several environmentally friendly initiatives organised by the Student Union in recent years. These include a “Swap Shop”, where students can peruse second hand items, and a food share hub, where donated foodstuffs can be picked up for free.

The scheme is the brainchild of new VP for Communities Ainhoa Burgos Aguilera. Ainhoa, who ran for the role last March, listed the creation of a “Zero Waste initiative” as a key part of her manifesto.

At the time, she wrote: “[I want to make] the university and the Students’ Union more sustainable by opening a refillery store in the Union Building for students to buy eco-friendly, package-free products and staple food for cheap.”

Reacting to the success of the new initiative, Ainhoa said: "I've been blown away by the popularity of the Zero Waste Shop. Our goal is to help the community by providing access to low-cost food – we even offer a 50% student discount on top of already super low prices! We hope to encourage our community to shop sustainably while helping them during a crisis when prices keep going up.

"I'd like to thank all our amazing student volunteers who give up their time to help run the shop and make this initiative possible."

The move comes as the ongoing cost of living crisis has seen prices rise in recent years. The University has launched a number of initiatives to combat student poverty, including the Mindful Menus programme.

Under the scheme, students can purchase 50p soup from the University food court.

A discounted breakfast offer is also available, which costs £1.50 for two slices of toast and a small hot drink.

Commenting on the scheme when it launched last November, Deputy Director of People Nick Edwards lauded the programme.

He said: “[We] aim to ensure we can proactively advise students on budgeting, money matters and self-care and also support those who need it when they experience unexpected hardship.

“We know that these small changes won’t overturn the impact of the whole cost of living crisis, but hope they are a small gesture of support over the winter period.”

A year later, while inflation appears to be decreasing, prices continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate- hence the need for initiatives like the zero waste shop.

You can find the shop by walking through Union Brew and entering the corridor to the left of the Subway. Walk all the way to the back- it will be on your left hand side.

If you are keen to get involved, please email Ainhoa at


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