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Cambridge City Council

Community waste reduction projects

Our vision for Cambridge is for a thriving Circular Economy where communities and local businesses help to keep resources in use for as long as possible without them being discarded. Here are some ideas that your community could take up to be a part of this, with links to get you started.

We would love to hear about your circular economy projects and ideas. You may also be able to apply for funding through our Sustainable City Grant or other grant funds.

Food projects

A Community Fridge is a space where anyone can share surplus food, and anyone else can take it to save food waste. Cambridge Sustainable Food has worked with businesses and community hubs to set up a number of community fridges in Cambridge. You can find out more about setting one up from environment charity Hubbub.

Olio is a smartphone app which connects surplus food from shops and restaurants with local people who can use it. By signing up as an Olio Food Waste Hero you perform the vital role of collecting the surplus food and listing it on the app.

Community meal projects cook meals for local people to enjoy together from food which would otherwise go to waste. A local example is Cambridge FoodCycle.

Community composting projects are where a group of neighbours home-compost together, for example flats next to an allotment who take their food waste to be composted at the site. We don't know of any local examples, but we'd love to hear about them. Compost Works is an example in Liverpool.

Clothing projects

A Swish is a fun swap event where you bring unwanted items of clothing in good condition and choose from those that other people have brought. A local example is K1 Co-Housing’s Swish. You can borrow all the kit to run your own event from Cambridge Carbon Footprint.

Clothing Amnesty events are a great way to tackle a specific type of clothing that can be wasteful or outgrown. Schools or PTAs are well-placed to run amnesties for Christmas jumpers, school uniform, World Book Day outfits or Halloween costumes. Simply collect, organise by size and set up a table or event for people to choose another, either for free or for a donation. A local example is Trumpington Kids Clothes Hub.

Sharing projects

A Library of Things is just that – instead of borrowing books, you can borrow tools and appliances which you only need occasionally. Cambridge Library of Things is looking for a location.

Cloth nappy libraries allow parents to try out different types of washable nappies, before purchasing, to see which work best for them. A local example is Cambridge Nappy Library run by the NCT in Cottenham.

Repair projects

A Skills Share event brings people together who have skills, for example, in bike maintenance or darning, with those who want to learn new skills. This type of endeavour helps to keep resources in use by stopping items from falling into disrepair. A local example is Sew Positive’s ‘make your clothes last longer’ workshops.

Repair Café events bring together skilled volunteer repairers with people who have broken household items - from toasters to jeans. There are over 30 Repair Cafés around our area, but if there isn’t one near you already, there is great support to get one started from Cambridgeshire Repair Café Network.

Refill projects

Installing a water fountain in your community or encouraging local businesses to become Refill hubs and display a window sticker, can help people avoid single-use plastic bottles.

Restoration and upcycling projects

Upcycling is taking something like a piece of furniture, which is no longer fit for its original purpose, and re-inventing it into something new. A local example of a charitable upcycling venture is at the Emmaus charity shop in Landbeach.

Re-use projects

Creating and giving away re-usable items, like cloth shopping bags, encourages a move away from disposable items. A local example is the collaboration between Trumpington Stitchers sewing group and The Cambridge Period Project to make cloth pads for those experiencing period poverty.

Providing re-usable alternatives where single-use items are the norm is a great way to prevent waste from events. Sustainable Cottenham and the Fen Edge Community Association's reusable cups initiative at the Fen Edge Festival and Cottenham Primary School PTCA's reusable party kit are great examples.