The Waste Pyramid

Waste is a huge problem globally…

  • We bin around 50m tonnes of electrical waste globally every year. That’s nearly 4 million double decker buses’ worth of old computer equipment, TVs, stereos and kitchen appliances, stretching to the moon more than 3 times over!
  • We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food every year, and more than half of it’s perfectly edible. Meanwhile, 1 in 7 people across the world don’t have enough to eat.
  • Between 20% and 40% of fruit and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets before they even hit the shelves. Why? Because they don’t adhere to their cosmetic standards – they’re misshapen, lumpy or just plain weird-looking. But that’s what nature intended, right?
  • At Christmas, as much as 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will end up in UK bins when it could have been recycled instead. That’s the same size as Sunderland!

To help us reduce our waste, we now have the “waste pyramid” which helps you fight the crisis by thinking about these 5 Rs when buying and disposing of things. Putting these into practice is a great way to reduce your waste and even save some cash!

What can we all do:


Bring your own reusable bags and containers to the grocery store. This cuts out the need for plastic packaging and bags!

Use your phone to take pictures of business cards and pamphlets instead of accepting the physical item.

Say no to unnecessary marketing freebies like pens and USB drives unless you will use them. Otherwise leave them for someone who will!

Refuse to buy harmful products like chemical cleaners and air fresheners.

Stop accepting single-use plastic and disposables such as straws, cutlery and plastic grocery bags.

Refuse printed store receipts, (stores nowadays give you an e-mail option) they are often made with a thermal paper that contains BPA!


  • Start evaluating your purchasing habits and resist impulse buying.
  • Give things you are not using a second life and donate them to charity shops or clothes swaps.

Simplify your life, look for and use multipurpose items like vinegar and baking soda for cleaning needs, coconut oil for cooking and skin health, castile soap to wash anything from your skin to clothes!


  • Stop buying disposable items and replace them with reusable ones like grocery bags, water bottles, travel mugs, disposable razors, paper towels, tin foil, cling film, etc. Often, you don’t have to buy reusable items, you probably have them in your cabinets: think glass mugs, silverware, dish rags!
  • If things break, repair them! Mend your old clothing or bring your broken items to have repaired.
  • Shop second-hand. A lot of things are given away but still have so much life left! Did you know we have a free thrift store on campus?


  • Recycle all the basics you can such as paper, plastic, metal and glass.
  • Recycle all electronics in the E-Waste bins in the library, rather than tossing in the trash.
  • Recycle your jeans at stores like H&M and Madewell where they recycle the material for wall insulation.
  • Take off the lids off your food containers, give the containers a quick rinse before placing into the separate bins.
  • If you have an item that you’re not sure can be recycled, check our recycling guide or contact the Sustainability Coordinator. Most likely it can be recycled somewhere!

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