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5 steps to being more sustainable in Exeter


Helena Jones is a Medical Sciences student at the University of Exeter and our Digital Marketing Intern. Hailing from Birmingham, Helena is pursuing a career in Operations Consultancy and getting as much practical business experience as she can.

The issue of sustainability is hugely important us as Bigwave media. We have therefore put together seven easy steps to help you develop more sustainable habits.

1. Shop zero waste

Supermarkets are responsible for producing 1.5 tonnes of consumer plastic packaging annually and it is estimated only 30-45 per cent is actually recycled, the rest being deposited in landfills and our oceans. Whilst there is an argument for the use of plastic for keeping food fresher for longer there are many food products producing a huge amount of plastic every year unnecessarily.

Zero waste shops are a simple way of reducing the amount of packaging we use, the concept is simple: bring your own containers, take however much you need then when you run out simply bring back the container and refill.

Local zero waste shops in Exeter:

Nourish of Exeter

Magdalen Road, EX2 4TA

Located on Magdalen Road Nourish is the second storefront opened by local business women Sarah Martin. The Exeter store boasts an impressive range of cereals, grains, pulses, dried fruit, spices, teas and confectionery. There is even a range of sustainable toiletries, cleaning products and biodegradable food packaging.

The Real Food Store

Queen Street EX4 3SB

Conveniently located in the city centre, the real food Store is founded upon a local community of suppliers and producers. The store provides most things you would find in your local supermarket from locally sourced fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, toiletries, fresh bread from local bakers and a larder for your none-perishables. This is a great option for those trying to reduce packing across their weekly shop, it is also nice knowing you’re helping support local communities.

2. Minimise commercial waste

This one is a win-win for both you and the environment. We’re all aware of the tonnes of food discarded every day by restaurants and eateries, in fact, for every meal eaten in a UK restaurant nearly half a kilo of food is wasted. On a local level, many initiatives aim to tackle this issue in Exeter, for example, student volunteers take leftover food products from campus food outlets to local homeless shelters. But there are now ways that everyone can get involved…

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is an app which aims to sell on food from local eateries which would have been wasted. At the end of the day, restaurants predict what they will have left over and post on the app with a time for collection. App users can login and see what food is available, purchase it online for a heavily discounted price (a whole tray of sushi worth £25+ for £3) and then go pick the food up at a specified time. It’s early days so there are only a few participating food outlets in Exeter, but as the popularity grows this is set to increase, following suit to other cities including London and Birmingham. Not only is this a great way of preventing food waste but you can have delicious restaurant standard food at a fraction of the price.

3. Cut down on meat

Over the past two years, we have become more aware of the detrimental effects the meat and agricultural industry has on the environment. The industry accounts for 25% of all CO2 emissions worldwide and is a major source of pollution, water and land use. Scientists have recommended a plant-based diet in order to more sustainable and to meet the growing food demands of our ever-expanding population.

Luckily for those who live in Exeter, there is a vibrant selection of plant-based and vegan cafes to choose from making it easier to make the switch, whether you’re just trying to cut down on your meat consumption, do ‘meat- free- Monday’ or go fully vegan.

The Plant Café

Cathedral Yard EX1 1HJ

Located in the city centre The Plant Café has been serving vegan and vegetarian food for over 13 years. The café aims to deliver nutritious, home cooked meals and with outside seating, you can enjoy your delicious plant-based lunch whilst admiring the beautiful historic cathedral.


Well Street EX4 6QR

Located in the cities student residential area Rabbit is a 100% vegan café offering both a breakfast and lunchtime menu. The café’s unique selection of home-made vegan cheeses and delicious cakes has made them immensely popular with locals, their reputation even earnt them a place on Peta’s list of Top 12 Vegan Sweet Treats across the UK.

The Flat

142 Fore Street EX4 3AN

 When you fancy a takeaway but still want to maintain a plant-based diet The Flat has you covered. The pizzeria offers a modest selection of vegetarian and vegan pasta and pizza to eat in or take away, all pizzas are freshly prepared from scratch using ethically sources ingredients creating a rustic, artisan pizza.

4. Reduce your carbon footprint

To reduce the dominance of cars, Exeter City Council has introduced many initiatives you can get involved in, the widest spread of these being Co Cars and Park and Ride.

 Park and Ride

Park and ride is a service running throughout the South West where city commuters park at car parks in the outskirts and catch a bus into the city centre, this lowers the number of cars going into the city releasing harmful emissions.  Parking is free, fares are cheap and buses run regularly making it a far better option than driving. There are three park and ride locations which have services to Exeter including Honiton Road, Matford and Sowton. For more information visit the Devon County Council website.

Co Cars

Co cars allows you to hire low emission cars by the hour. With all the public transport options available there is no need for a car if you live near the city centre especially for students who make up a large portion of Exeter’s population however for the odd journey where driving is the only option co cars provides the perfect solution. By opting to use co cars instead of having a car in Exeter you are helping reduce the number of cars on the road and slow-moving traffic jams, a major contribution to pollution. Once you have booked Co Cars vehicles can be picked up from destinations all over the city making it a convenient as well as eco -friendly.

5. Buy local

Buying local can dramatically reduce your food miles: distance from where your food was sourced to your plate lowering your carbon emissions. There are many stores offering locally sourced produce in Exeter so it is a really easy step to take to be more sustainable.

Eat Your Greens

Sidwell Street EX4 6NN

Eat Your Greens is a family-run fruit and veg store located on the main high street, their wide variety of fruit and veg is sourced from local farms with each location clearly displayed so you know exactly where your food is coming from. They also offer a veg box scheme where you can have boxes of veg delivered to your door on a weekly basis.


Figures from the Devon Authorities Strategic Waste Committee show recycling rates Exeter have declined in 2018. Many waste products which end up in landfill could still be recycled so it’s worth keeping updated with your local recycling centres. The Exeter City Council website is a great source of information on what you can and can’t recycle and where.

Embrace second hand – Sobeys

Gandy Street EX4 3LS

With the rise of online shopping fast- fashion has become a  major environmental issue, producing low-quality clothes from none-biodegradable materials, transporting these clothes to the UK then back and forth to our houses is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions and pollution. To be more sustainable it is advisable to shop second hand, this doesn’t necessarily mean trawling through charity shop rails, vintage fashion stores offer a huge range so you can shop ethically whilst still fashionable clothes.

In the city centre, Sobeys offers a vibrant selection of vintage clothing and accessories. The store aims to provide budget friendly, high quality, vintage and reworked clothes whilst trying to follow current trends. With its huge variety, it is a great place to start for those who are unsure about vintage shopping.

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