How our students help to Leave Liverpool Tidy

Posted on: 21 September 2022 in Issue 3

Leave Liverpool Tidy is an initiative helping to harness the skills and enthusiasm of students across Liverpool to reduce the number of items going to landfill and encourage a new approach to consumption and waste.

Laela Purvis-Greenway is the Guild’s Sustainability Manager and one of the co-ordinators of the scheme. Here, she discusses how Leave Liverpool Tidy is helping turn student behaviour into a powerful force for sustainable student change. 

A collaborative beginning

The origins of Leave Liverpool Tidy are linked to the Guild’s strong relationship with the British Heart Foundation. “The Guild has a volunteering platform for students to give back to the community and improve their experience levels at university,” Laela explains. “The British Heart Foundation was one organisation we have always worked closely with and so we took inspiration from their Pack for Good Campaign when starting Leave Liverpool Tidy. It is the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate on something with the same goals and connect it to the Liverpool community.”

Universities across the UK take part in the Pack for Good campaign, encouraging students to donate reusable items – from clothing to homeware – to the British Heart Foundation when they are changing or leaving their student accommodation.

“We know the student changeover can leave some waste and this campaign offered a positive and proactive way to deal with it,” Laela notes. “But equally, it isn’t just students creating waste that could be reused. There are wider issues in cities across the UK with fly-tipping and dumping and this campaign is helping with this too.”

Laela continues: “We have passionate student volunteers who promote the donation sites to their friends, leaflet in the community to raise awareness and provide guidance to students in halls and private accommodation. Then the British Heart Foundation can just come along to the designated drop-offs and collect them.”

The Guild’s 21/22 elected Student Officers took part in the Leave Liverpool Tidy campaign and this year's officers are equally looking forward to seeing the project expand. Deputy President Kathryn Manly, when speaking on the importance of consumption and waste in relation to students, told us: “Consumption and waste in Liverpool is a priority because during and at the end of the academic year, students find themselves with unwanted clothes, food and homeware. This highlights how students can get involved and start thinking about their ethical consumption, whether it be from clothing or food waste.”

During the 2020/21 academic year, University of Liverpool students and staff donated 490 bags, diverting 3.9 tonnes of waste from landfill, equivalent to nearly 40,000kg of CO2. The donations are also helping the BHF deliver key services, as each bag is estimated to be worth up to £14. So, 10 bags could fund a full day of BHF Heart nursing care, 100 bags could support a ‘young scientist’ for seven days and 1,000 could support 40 heart patients on an ongoing basis.

Leave Liverpool Tidy info

Building on success

The Leave Liverpool Tidy initiative builds on the success of the Pack for Good campaign, keeping the donation bags at its core but offering students a wider range of opportunities to get involved. “We started to look for other opportunities in the community,” Laela explains. “We’ve done things ranging from litter picks to beach clean-ups, supporting food banks with our partner FareShare and setting up ‘fix-it’ workshops to repair damaged clothes.”

Laela recalls one success in particular that exemplifies student initiative and enthusiasm. “A student approached us about doing a swap-shop, which we were really keen to support,” she says. “Volunteers, some who had worked with us on the donation bags, soon joined to help at the event, from sorting through the bags of clothes, hanging them up and supporting us in managing the event. The Garms Society got involved and set up a ‘fix-it shop’ within the event itself, where they could repair damaged clothes for the swap-shop or even just for our students' own clothes. It was a great experience and exactly what we want to do more of.”

A valuable experience

While the Leave Liverpool Tidy initiative benefits from the hard work and skills of students, in return they get valuable experience too, connecting with likeminded peers and the wider community. “They’re out and about making a difference in Liverpool and we’ve had residents come up and thank us and ask us to tell them more about it,” Laela explains. “Because we work with other universities in the city, particularly Liverpool John Moores University, they can get to know other students too, helping them to build valuable social connections.”

One student signed up for Leave Liverpool Tidy activities because they wanted to get some hands-on volunteering experience over the summer. “I learnt good teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills as well as the obvious positive effects of preventing items going to landfill,” the volunteer explains. “I really enjoyed chatting to new people, all while spending time outside and supporting good causes. I would love to see more people getting involved – whether it’s working on the initiatives themselves or even just donating their own unwanted belongings.”

A city-wide collaboration

Collaboration between Liverpool’s different student unions has been key to the success of Leave Liverpool Tidy. “It’s been a great opportunity to work closer with John Moores and it’s given us opportunities to knowledge share in other areas too, so it’s been a really productive collaboration,” Laela explains. “We also worked with Liverpool Hope and plan to expand this relationship going forward. It’s good because while many universities have a Pack for Good project, not many have turned it into a city-wide approach in the way that we have.”

This collaborative approach has delivered impressive results. The British Heart Foundation estimate that in the 2020/21 academic year, Liverpool’s universities raised a collective £27,188, diverted 15.5 tonnes of waste from landfill – preventing nearly 160,000 kg of CO2 emissions.

Samir Karnik-Hinks, Student Development Coordinator (Volunteering) at Liverpool John Moores University, worked with the Guild team to organise volunteers, donations and collections from John Moores students. “JMSU have declared a ‘climate emergency’ and it’s essential we work towards reducing student waste and give back to the local community – something students are hugely invested in,” Samir explains. “Leave Liverpool Tidy offers a fantastic vehicle to do this.”

Samir continues: “Students from the three Liverpool universities live in similar areas, so pooling resources and volunteers makes sense. We’re really keen to continue working with the Guild on other projects to build connections between our students and widen the scope for future activities.”

Planning for the future

The Guild is also keen to build on the momentum and success of the Leave Liverpool Tidy campaign. “We’re looking to have it less focussed on the end of the academic year and instead pepper activities throughout the year,” Laela explains. “Many students are doing exams or leaving at the end of the year and so we think there’s lots of potential in opening up these activities to them earlier on.”

Laela continues: “Ongoing work with our partners will also be important. The British Heart Foundation are already coming up with new ideas to help, like vintage pop-ups and a ‘Super Sort’, plus FareShare continue to do crucial work with us. I can see lots of opportunities coming up this year and I’m excited to share them with students as soon as we can.”

Find out more

If this sounds like something you or somebody you know would like to get involved with, the good news is that it’s easy to get started. Donation bags will be located across the campus and halls at the end of the year. Permanent donation spots can also be found on the Leave Liverpool Tidy section of the Guild website.

Visit the Guild website and social media for further information as well as details on other planned ‘Give it a Go’ initiatives.