Reducing waste on campus

25 September 2023

Recycling is good but it’s pretty low in the hierarchy of how to save our resources. Like most things in life, prevention is the best method. Thinking about how we use paper, food, and drink on campus are examples of how we can minimise and reuse our waste. Learn more about reducing waste on campus.


Recycling makes us all feel good about our attempts to live more sustainably. We know that our efforts of putting that bottle in the yellow bin rather than the red bin meant we single-handedly prevented something from rotting away in a landfill. But there is so much more we can do! Recycling is good, but it’s pretty low in the hierarchy of how to save our resources. As is the case with most things in life – prevention is the best method. Through smart shopping and living, we can make a start at this. Minimisation and reuse are things we can all do to reduce the amount of waste we put back into the earth.

The use of paper, plus the food and drink we consume on campus are areas where minimisation and reuse are feasible and effective activities.


Paper and printing

Save the trees!

  • Limit your printing – stick to reading online and internet resources. These are a great resource and can easily be read on your computer rather then having them all printed out.
  • Save money on course readers and view them online instead, or print only the essays/articles you need for your research.
  • If you do need to print, make sure it’s double sided!
  • Check before you dispose of paper in the recycling bin to see whether it’s been printed single sided, and then use it for scrap paper before you recycle it.
  • Check with your lecturer/tutor whether you can submit your essays electronically.
  • Unless your course/department specifies that essays must be printed single-sided, assume that double-sided is fine.


Food and drink

  • Avoid excess packaging! Do you really need your prunes individually wrapped? If you want snack sized portions buy in bulk and use reusable containers in your lunch-box. Or go for products packaged in recyclable products – beware of the plastic film!
  • reusable New Zealand-made coffee cups are now available on campus at most cafes. Pick one up to save some resources with your morning coffee! Or just bring your own cup in - just make sure that it will fit under the coffee machine, otherwise the cafes will be forced to make your coffee in a single use takeaway cup, then pour your coffee into your re-usable mug.
  • Avoid buying bottled water – use a reusable bottle and take advantage of the drinking fountains on campus.
  • Rather than buying food on campus and creating lots of waste associated with packaging, bring leftovers or whatever else is in the fridge in a reusable container.
  • If you are buying your lunch, consider taking a reusable container to the café so as to avoid unnecessary bags. The reusable containers used at Spice Traders are particularly useful for this.
  • Say 'no' to plastic eating utensils - bring you own!
  • Say no to polystyrene – and if you do find a café, caterer, or water-cooler on campus using it, please email the Sustainability Office.
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