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Plastic free Univ

Plastic free Univ“Plastics – Just say no.”

Let’s share a plan, shall we? The headline is catchy, but the delivery of a single-use, plastic free College is going to be tricky. Which is where we need your help.

The Domestic Bursary at Univ has, for some time now, been moving away from single-use plastic; it is the right thing to do. We no longer use plastics-based cups, cutlery or food containers in our Buttery. We have introduced vegware biodegradable packaging for our sandwich wrappers, fruit and yoghurts and for take away coffee cups; we are phasing out mini toiletries in our guest rooms and for external business.

Yet, while we haven’t yet run out of ideas, I am conscious that we are blessed to be in the middle of the most amazing group of people at Univ who can bring innovation to our attention every day. Which is, I hope, a flattering way of saying, “help”.

We are, with the help of the Works Department, about to make a major step in removing plastic water bottles from our shelves. Lots of people want access to filtered, chilled water – nothing wrong with what is coming out of the tap, but a lot of you want something different. We can attest to that by the number of bottles of water which are sold through the Buttery on an annual basis. So a shocking secondary headline is that we are, by Trinity Term, going to remove these bottles from sale in the Buttery and in the Bar and in their places we are going to position water stations around College which will offer a chilled and filtered alternative – for free. We may even be able to make that alternative sparkle, literally.

So, JCR, MCR, Buttery and probably just off Main Quad, watch out for a water station coming to your location soon.

Yet that isn’t really enough is it? A lot of other drinks products also come to Univ in plastic bottles and leave the shelves as quickly as we can fill them. It’s a personal view but I don’t buy Coca Cola’s excuse for continuing with plastic use. There may be a market right now, but, if we don’t take steps to change, that market may be very rueful in years to come.

So, with courage in both hands, we announce that we are to stop purchasing drinks in plastic bottles in toto by Trinity. It may lead to slight changes in the products we offer, but I think that a small price to pay.

But what do you think? It’s clear to me that we still use plastics; clingfilm on our homebakes and cookies, bought in crisps and snacks are still in non-recyclable or biodegradable packaging. We’re still scratching our heads on these; can I invite you to help us out here?

Angela Unsworth, Domestic Bursar – February, 2020

Your comments and suggestions are warmly encouraged; please email communications@univ.ox.ac.uk

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