Last Friday evening, hundreds of commuters were offered free fruit by a Great Waste team from Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) Waste Action Group, students from the University of Winchester and Incredible Edible Winchester at Winchester railway station to mark Zero Waste Week. Local supermarkets Sainsbury’s in Middle Brook Street and Tesco’s in Winnall gave bananas and carrots approaching their “best by” dates, while apples came from local people’s gardens.

Along with the free fruit, people took free booklets on home composting, measures  to help them cook exactly the right amount of rice or spaghetti, recipes for leftovers and information about how to cut the carbon footprint of their meals.

 “We throw away over seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, most of which could have been eaten. So we were delighted that people were so keen on the food measuring gadgets”, said Susie Phillips who organised the Great Waste Give-away. “After all, the easiest way to avoid wasting food is to cook the right amount in the first place, so none gets left on the plate. “

To help the spread the message about not wasting food, the chef at Winchester Guildhall Eighteen71 café used commonly wasted foods to make delicious meals during Zero Waste Week. The café also offered inspiring recipes and advice on how to make more from the food we buy.

At another Zero Waste Week event on Tuesday, over forty people heard about how volunteers and students in Brighton had built a house almost entirely from waste. The Brighton Waste House aims to prove that under-valued so-called waste material has potential to become a valuable resource and therefore prove “that there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!’. 

So much material is bought and never used in traditional construction that the Waste House could be built from left-overs from building sites.

About 60 per cent of UK waste overall comes from construction and demolition, and construction and garden stuff make up a quarter of what’s given away on Freegle. In the UK, 8 million tonnes of wood is thrown out every year, 80% of which would have been re-usable. The Waste House is built using thrown-away concrete blocks, timber, ply, vinyl banners, pieces of polystyrene and bicycle inner tubes. A wall made of rammed chalk, one of the most common waste products from construction sites in chalky areas, “granite” surfaces are made from recycled paper  and even old coffee grinds were turned into a kitchen worktop. 

Second-hand carpet tiles clad the walls. “400,000 tonnes of old carpet is landfilled every year in UK” said “Resource Goddess” Cat Fletcher, who inspired the building of the Waste House.
Jean legs, old video tapes and DVDs are the wall insulation. The Waste House is EPC ‘A’ rated - a low energy building to run and keep warm, as well as to build. A serious research study has PhD students from the University of Sussex measuring the insulation efficiency of different re-used materials.

“We can’t build the housing development at Barton Farm from waste yet”, said WinACC Director Chris Holloway, “but in a few years, I’m looking forward to see Waste Houses all round the district”.

Notes to the editor

  1. The Great Waste initiative is a partnership between Winchester City Council and Winchester Action on Climate Change, with other partners contributing for different activities.
  2. Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) works to cut the carbon footprint of Winchester district.  Its members include local residents, businesses and local government, working together to create a better future.  
  3. For further information call Chris Holloway on 07779 283451 or Susie Phillips on 07704 325930 or
  4. Winchester Action on Climate Change Ltd is a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales with company registration no. 08013043. Our registered office is Room 163, Main Building, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR. We are also a registered charity in England and Wales with charity no 1150754.