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Chloe Tremain

How Realistic is Zero Waste Shopping On a Student Budget?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Georgia’s previous article spoke about the best sustainable clothes shops for students in Nottingham, and as a continuation on from that she wanted to push herself further, asking whether she could be more sustainable in her own shopping besides clothing. Georgia focuses on the reality of shopping sustainable, but on a student budget, as sometimes – due to the cost of sustainability – it can be hard to stay zero waste.

I found that Nottingham has various zero waste shops, but if you’re a student like myself then you’ll likely only want to visit the one on the UoN campus, or the one on Friar Lane, nearby the Kitty Café. To my knowledge, the other zero waste shops are much further from the centre of Notts.

Shopping Sustainable in Nottingham

The shop on campus, ‘Portland Zero’, is, as the name suggests, located on the ground floor of the Portland building/the Student Union. I’ve walked past it various times and unfortunately it never seems to be too busy. But if you’re a student, especially living in Halls, then this is very much an easy option. The shop itself was part funded by the Universities latte levy scheme which charges 20p for every disposable cup purchased, a good cause that hopefully inspires environmentalism. The layout of the shop itself is very simple; it is essentially a refill station of various food items, the purpose being to cut down on single-use plastic. Its available products range from pulses and grains to nuts, cereals, pasta, oils and more. You can purchase a paper bag or jar in the shop, or bring your own, which you then fill with whatever it is you are purchasing. These are containers which you can obviously reuse next time, and the price is then determined by the weight of your purchase.

The other nearby zero waste shop, Shop-Zero on Friar Lane, is similar in price and general layout to the one on campus. However, it certainly has a larger collection of items beyond food, such as sanitary products, bath stuff, cleaning products, and general gifts. Also, just to the right of you as you enter the shop is a counter that is often selling sustainable products from a local business, which I certainly think is a nice addition. They also have a 10% student discount which is always a plus.

Just to go into a bit of detail of prices, at Portland Zero I bought some Madras Curry Powder which was 98p per 100 grams, some Chickpeas for 25p per 100 grams and Blackeye Beans for 38p per 100 grams. In comparison to regular supermarkets, take Sainsbury’s for example, the pulses were slightly more expensive at the zero-waste shop, with it being possible to buy Chickpeas for 11p per 100 grams and Blackeye Beans for 11p per 100 grams. The Madras Powder, however, is slightly more expensive at Sainsbury’s, which charges £1.30 per 100 grams. Some other products, such as pasta and couscous were certainly more expensive at both shops.

So, is it possible?

Ultimately, however, it is a matter of weighing up price with the want to be sustainable. Obviously as a student it is impossible to ignore the matter of cost when buying food, although for many products the margin of price difference was small. It is unlikely you would use these shops as your only source of food anyway due to them only selling dry food. Personally, I intent to still have regular food shops at my local supermarket but incorporate these shops into it. I can definitely see myself using these shops to top up any spices I may need and potentially for some nicer things that you may not find at your local supermarket.

Georgia Fenton

Nottingham '23

Blogger for Her Campus Nottingham. 2nd Year History & Politics Student.
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