Shopping ethically as a student is not easy. Good intentions tend to get overridden by a desire to be in and out of Sainsbury’s with the maximum efficiency and the smallest dent in the overdraft. You might find yourself thinking, “I’ll buy ethically in the future, but I can’t afford it now”, or perhaps, “Green products are too hard to find – I’d buy them if I knew which ones they were.”
However, thanks to a new student-run initiative, issues like these will soon be a thing of the past. The Green Label Project has designed a set of labels to help you instantly identify the most eco-friendly products around the university, empowering you to start making those ethical, informed purchases right now.
In the coming weeks, the SUSU shop will introduce a new pricing system which will incorporate the Green Label symbols, as well as posters explaining what each symbol represents.
The labels are to identify:
Products which don’t contain the protein gluten, usually found in wheat, rye and barley.
Products which don’t contain nut ingredients and are made in a nut-free environment.
I’m Vegan Friendly
I’m Well Packaged
Made from at least 50% recycled material. Buy these if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
I’m a Local
Manufactured or grown locally. Buy these products to support local businesses and reduce your food miles.
It’s hoped that highlighting Vegan products will be of great benefit to the growing number of vegans and vegetarians around campus, but if you’re not one of them don’t be put off! You are probably consuming Vegan food and drink already – ‘accidently Vegan’ products include Kelloggs Frosties, Oreo Biscuits, Walkers Ready-Salted Crisps, and even Red Bull.
If you’re passionate about the environment then you might be purposely looking out for vegan produce. Any products containing meat or dairy require crops to be grown and transported for animal feed as well as the growth and transport of livestock itself. But vegan products don’t get transported to animals, reducing harmful emissions of CO2, Nitrous Oxide and Methane into the air, water and soil. With this in mind, the Green Label Project aims to encourage widespread purchase of vegan products, whether for just one meal a week, or as part of a dedicated lifestyle.
Along-side the ethically-themed labels, the project will also be identifying nut-free and gluten-free products in the shop.
1 in 50 people in the UK have a food allergy
According to Allergy UK, 1 in 50 people in the UK have a food allergy and 45% of the UK population suffer from food intolerances. For someone with allergies, food shopping can be complex and frustrating. Even if a product looks like it should be free from allergens, there is often an element of risk in eating it, as manufacturers seem to throw around the ‘may contain’ label as a substitute for good hygiene practice. The new allergen food labels will hopefully alleviate a little of this stress and make shopping less of a scavenger hunt by directing allergic customers straight to the products which are safe for them to eat.
Because the ingredient information on products is subject to frequent change, these labels will only be placed on products which directly specify ‘Nut/Gluten-free’ on the packaging, rather than those which just don’t have nuts/gluten listed as an ingredient.
Did you know…
That sweet treats like Nestle KitKats and The Fabulous Baking Boys Muffins are Nut Free
As well as the products in the SUSU shop, the Green Label Project wants to make eating out at the university easier for those with dietary requirements. They plan to incorporate a key system into the Bridge Bar menu, which will highlight vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals, and flag up those which contain nuts. This way, people with specific requirements will be able to easily identify suitable meals, and in case of those with allergies, feel safe in the knowledge that the food they want will be carefully prepared.
The project is also encouraging both the SUSU shop and the Bridge Bar to stock more meals and products which are ethically-sourced and allergen-free. If there is a particular product that you and know and love which you think should be on sale in the shop, then email the suggestion to the Green Label Project, including the name of the product and the brand to the ethics and environment team.
Get involved – it’s never been so easy to be healthy and ethical around campusGeorge Crone
Equally, if you are passionate about ethical produce or allergen-labelling and think you’d like to volunteer for or give any feedback about the project, contact the Ethics and Environment team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Green Label Project leader, George Crone says, ‘Get involved and help us make it easier for people to be healthy and ethical around campus. It’s never been so easy and rewarding to stick out your green thumb and make a lasting impact at the university.’
For tips on coping with an allergy at Uni, check out the Young Person’s section on http://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk