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We asked students for their opinions on plastic waste in Leeds

Uni has gone plastic free and so are we

Plastic is a massive problem in our society, city and our university, despite our growing awareness of its effects. The fight against single use plastic is ongoing. But what is Leeds doing to tackle this plastic pollution?

Leeds University has recently announced that they are going completely plastic free by 2023, which sparked the question of how we can be more careful with plastic ourselves. So, The Leeds Tab spoke to some students to find out their opinion on Leeds’ efforts, and what they are contributing to the fight against plastic waste:

Kitty, Maters, Fine Arts

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"I don't actually know very much about Leeds's plastic initiatives, but I know there's a lot more recycling bins around on the streets"

Bailey, Child Care, Level 2

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"I think Leeds does do a good job at reducing plastic, but they could do better. Yes, they give us everything we need, but when walking around town there could place more recycling bins to help with the waste. There is way too many plastic bottles and waste on the streets. When walking around you'll see loads of plastic waste and it’s not appealing to us, nor to anyone that comes to Leeds from a different country or place in the UK."

Katy, first year, Graphic Art and Design

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"Plastic is such a useful material it can be hard to cut it out, but people could definitely be more aware of how much plastic they are using. I think Leeds does a pretty good job of trying to reduce plastic waste, such as facilitating a charge for carrier bags at shops to try and make people reuse them. Also plastic straws have been changed to cardboard in a lot of places too. A lot of places are trying to get people to reuse their plastic instead of buying more so that less of it goes to waste.

Personally, I try to use my own bags when shopping and I try to reuse water bottles instead of just throwing them away."

Mark, third year, Music

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"I'm pretty convinced we have recycling bins all over campus and, at the end of the day, the responsibility lies with staff and students to use them."

So what is Leeds actually doing to fend off the threat of plastic waste?

Well this year Leeds launched their #LeedsByExample project, which is claimed to be the UK’s biggest effort so far to improve recycling habits beyond our efforts in our homes.

The council, with the help of organisations like 'Hubbub Foundation' have introduced more recycling bins which will be hard to miss because of their bright yellow colour. Some of which named as Bubble Bins provide a little fun burst to your day by blowing bubbles when you deposit plastic and cans into the bins.

Recycling bin machines that give discount vouchers in exchange for recycling your plastic bottles and coffee cups have been installed at Leeds Beckett University, Trinity Shopping Centre and in Kirkgate Market’s Food Court as part of the Government’s Deposit Return Scheme.

Leeds Arts University have also hosted their Sustainability Award this year which gave students the chance to come up with an innovative idea and the framework for implementing that idea. The Arts University also has its Sustainable Student Spotlight on their website which highlights students that take special consideration to incorporate sustainability, particularly environmental sustainability in their Art and Design work.

A creative effort to reuse waste plastic is the vibrant and colourful seating area made from 100% recycled plastic that can be found at Dortmund Square near St. John’s shopping centre just off the Headrow.

If you want to join Leeds in the fight against plastic waste, here’s a few things you can do to help:

1)Many bars in Leeds have swapped out plastic for cardboard or paper straws but if you get offered a plastic straw then get one better and invest in a wood, glass or a metal straw and take it with you.

2)Keep your empty jars after you’ve used your pasta sauce, take them down to one of the places in Leeds that engage with zero plastic waste such as the the Jar Tree and the Nut Shop in Kirkgate Market, as well as Ecotopia in the Central Arcade. Fill them up to your heart’s content.

3)Buy loose food like Fruit and Veg instead of pre- packed food in plastic at shops and supermarkets. Morrison’s in the City Centre has recently introduced paper bags in its Grocery section. Kirkgate Market’s outdoor market is also great as you may well know for a wide choice of loose fresh fruit and veg, just make sure to take your own bags with you when you go.