Buckinghamshire New University

Highly Commended

Bucks New Usage

Our students donate household items that they can’t take home. Items are cleaned, sorted, and given to new students who arrive without essential items e.g., pans, bedding, and kettles. The scheme saves our students money and prevents items from being sent to landfill by encouraging the reuse of materials. All of which will help to reduce CO2 emissions and the use of natural resources.

The scheme started in 2016 and runs annually, last year it collected about 140 bags of items. This year it collected about 150.

Last year only 8 bags couldn’t be reused or repurposed within the University e.g., materials for fashion workshops. Anything that can’t be reused or repurposed is recycled wherever possible. We often see items return for reuse year on year.

The University helps to repair equipment and have donated space, including the use of repurposed laundry equipment.

The scheme saves students c.£31k each year.

What the Judges Thought

Bucks New Usage is a  highly focussed project that supports the reuse and recycle of household items that typically end up in landfill as students change accommodation. Operating for over 6 years the project has had a demonstrable impact on people, both on the volunteer staff and students who run the project, and the new students who need essential items to furnish rooms and kitchens. New students are given an insight into the University values through this project, as well as encouraging all students to think about the throw-away culture that student-life encourages and how we might tackle it.

This scheme also recognises the civic responsibility of unversities and supports social mobility. The spin-offs using donated materials across sustainability fashion and other curricula was great to see. The scheme is easily replicable across the sector and the panel would like to see more institutions developing similar models.

What it Means to Win

"Buckinghamshire New University winning this prestigious Green Gown award sends a tremendously important, encouraging message to all in our University community. For the students whose engagement this award celebrates, the University and Students’ Union staff who have supported them, it confirms that we can all make a difference. 

Professor Nick Braisby, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive 

Top 3 Learnings

  1. Volunteers can be unpredictable in many ways.
  2. We found it to be a labour-intensive project, so benefits need to be viewed holistically.
  3. We receive a shocking number of high-quality items each year which would otherwise be discarded.
1- No Poverty 10 - Reduced Inequalities 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
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