Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Newcastle Clean Air Zone: Your questions answered

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has now been introduced for parts of Newcastle in order to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Confused about what this means for you? This blog post will hopefully answer your questions. 

What is the CAZ and when does it start? 

The CAZ is an area within Newcastle where measures have been put into place in order to improve air quality. The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre as well as the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges. Only buses, coaches, taxis, vans and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet Clear Air Zone emissions standards are affected by the zone. Private cars are currently not affected. 

Map of the Clean Air Zone in Newcastle City Centre. View an interactive map on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages. 

The CAZ is now in place, however no charges will apply to vehicles (taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs) until 30th January 2023. Charges for vans and light goods vehicles will be delayed until July 2023 due to national vehicle supply issues. 

Why do we need a CAZ? 

Clean air is essential to our wellbeing. Poor air quality is linked to serious health conditions including heart disease, cancers and breathing problems. This can be especially serious in older people, young children and those who spend a lot of time driving. As a consequence, the government made it a legal requirement for councils to take action to reduce harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions from vehicles. A CAZ is a highly effective way of doing this. 

Newcastle isn’t alone in introducing a CAZ. Several other cities have implemented them including Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth and soon Sheffield. 

A CAZ will also support important efforts to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles in the city. 

How do I know if my vehicle will be charged? 

You can check if your vehicle is affected by the CAZ by using the government’s online vehicle checker.  

Table showing a guide as to which vehicles meet the CAZ standards. Make sure to check your vehicle using the link above. 

If your vehicle does not meet CAZ standards, you can apply for funding to help replace/upgrade it so that it is complaint with the new rules. There is eligibility criteria and advice on applying for a grant online on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages. 

Some vehicles are exempt from the new charges. These include emergency vehicles, agricultural vehicles, motor caravans and community transport vehicles. You can find a full list of national and local exemptions, and information on how to apply for an exemption, on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages

How does the CAZ affect Newcastle University

Newcastle University has a fleet of commercial vehicles, for example, for the Estates and Facilities porter team, and some minibuses. 

The University will be ensuring that all our vehicles are in line with CAZ policy. 

What if I have further questions? 

If you have any further general questions about the CAZ, email the local council at 

Or for University-specific questions email the Estates helpdesk at 

Small sustainable swaps for your kitchen

Whilst some of these products may have properties that are more sustainable than other products that we are likely to use, the most sustainable option is to use what you currently have if it is in a good condition or you have plenty of it. However, should you run out of some kitchen essentials then you should check out the post below for some eco-conscious swaps if you would like to try something new. 

Washing up:  

While some households have a dishwasher, some do not, therefore we need to address the various amounts of single-use plastic involved with mainstream washing up practices. Here are a few easy swaps to reduce the plastic in your kitchen sink:  

  • Do you need a new dish scrubber? You could swap to a bamboo and wooden brush for washing dishes instead of a plastic brush. When buying one of these brushes try and get one where you replace the scrubbing head only instead of the handle and the head as this will cut down on waste in addition to plastic. Products made from natural fibres will decompose naturally in a compost bin however plastic sits in landfill for many years. Some places that you can buy these from include: Nil Living, Peace of the Wild and eco-living. 
  • If you use disposable plastic sponges you could swap these out for an alternative such as a loofah dish sponge, these can be bought from Nil Living.  
  • An additional swap would be to use a reusable container with a pump for washing up liquid instead of buying single-use bottles. To fill the container up, either take it to a refill shop (like Nil Living in Grainger Market) or order a refill of washing up liquid from various retailers online (however when doing this try to make sure it comes in a 100% recyclable packet. Alternatively, you could try solid washing up soap bars instead such as the ones sold in Something Good.  

Cleaning surfaces: 

Often the products that we use to clean our work surfaces in the kitchen are in the form of disposable wipes or single-use plastic spray bottles. Here are a few swaps that could eliminate both products from your kitchen and keep it sparkling and clean. 

  • Switch to cleaning products that send out biodegradable refill sachets (or recyclable packaging) instead of single-use products. Some that we recommend are Method or Ocean Saver. This means that the bottle you use for your spray will be continuously reused instead of the single use sprays that are commonly bought. 
  • You can also try reusable dish and dusting cloths which can go in the wash instead of kitchen roll or non-reusable wipes.

Washing clothes  

Unfortunately, even everyday necessary activities contribute to marine plastic pollution, and this includes washing your clothes. Many clothes are made (in whole or in part) from plastics such as nylon and acrylic, which release fibres of microplastics when washed and end up in our drains, waterways and the sea.

“Plastic particles washed off from synthetic clothes contribute up to 35% of the primary microplastic that is polluting our oceans”

Planet care
  • The initial step when attempting to prevent microplastics from reaching the sea starts from before washing and stems from buying. When looking to invest in new garments (second hand or new) you could try to opt for natural fibre made products such as cotton, hemp or linen that will not release plastic. 
  • You could also invest in a microfiber filter for your washing machine which will help to catch most of the fibres that are released during washes such as the one made by PlanetCare. Alternatively, you could use a Guppy Bag to wash your garments in which also helps to capture most of the fibres. 
  • When washing your clothes, washing machines often automatically opt for the higher temperature settings even when they aren’t required, so before you put a wash on you could turn down the dial to 30 degrees to save energy and your clothes from excess heat.  
  • If you have a garden to hang your laundry to dry outside instead of using a tumble dryer (particularly in the summer) this will also help you to save money and energy within your household. If you don’t have a garden, hanging your clothes out to try indoors and using a small dehumidifier is still more energy efficient than using a tumble dryer. 


Studies have shown that food systems make up somewhere in the region of a third of global carbon emissions. By being conscious of what and how much we buy, we can help minimise the food waste coming out of our households and into landfill where it breaks down and produces even more greenhouse gases. We hope this helps to give you some inspiration for how you can operate your kitchen with sustainability as well as tasty food in mind. 

  • You can opt for loose fruit and vegetables, if possible, you can take a bag with you to the market (such as Grainger Market) to carry them in and this way you will only buy what you need and will not be buying single use plastic. 
  • Try to eat seasonally to the country that you are in as this will mean you are buying better quality produce and will not need to be flown in. If you have a garden, you could have a go at growing some easy produce such as carrots, potatoes and herbs. 
  • To avoid adding food waste scraps to landfill, you could keep a food waste caddy in your kitchen and build a compost heap in your garden and use the output to add nutrients to your soil. 
  • Do you like to batch cook? We do too as it helps to save energy! Put your leftovers in Tupperware instead of cling film as these can be reused unlike cling film and it will also prevent spillages in your bag. You can save your takeaway containers after washing them to put your lunches and snacks in.  
  • We have also got a food waste post filled with tips for those who would like to reduce their food waste which you can find here: 

Events in January: 

Veganuary: If you haven’t tried a plant-based diet, Veganuary is a great opportunity to give it a go! Eating a more plant-based diet reduces the carbon footprint of our food.  

It is no secret that as an international community we need to reduce the harmful emissions that are an output from mass agricultural farming so if you are curious about participating in this challenge have a look at the Veganuary website and check out our recent blog post, please get in touch if you have any questions about this blog post or Veganuary.  

Tips for a ‘Planet Healthy’ Plate


It is unlikely that you have not heard of Veganuary yet – the vegan challenge for the month of January, created and run by a non-profit organisation here in the UK. You might not have known that it was such an official campaign, and that, if you wanted to, you can sign up to the challenge and join an online community of others doing it too. Whether you sign up officially or go at your own pace without committing to signing up, we want to provide support for decreasing your animal product consumption. 

Why vegan? 

There are two main reasons that people decide to become vegan or plant-based: animal ethics and/or environmental issues, and we will be shining a light on the environmental side. 

Globally, agriculture uses nearly 40% of land, 70% of freshwater and is responsible for up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Willett, 2019). Moreover, land conversion for food production is the largest driver of global biodiversity loss (ibid). Dairy and meat products have an especially high environmental impact in comparison to other food groups. This because the process of raising animals is overall much more carbon intensive than harvesting plants. Animal-based food production involves clearing forests for animal pasture, making millions of tons of animal feed and large amounts of waste generated from farm animals. It is therefore important that we re-examine what we eat and move towards an eco-friendlier diet.  

“Converting grass into (meat) is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.” –Joseph Poore 

A recent report by the EAT-Lancet Commission (2019) describes a ‘planetary health plate’. This consists of mostly ‘vegetables and fruits, with the rest made up with whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils, and, occasionally, small amounts of meat or fish.’ Considering this, we have put together a few tips and tricks for how you can cut down on your animal product consumption in an easy, tasty way! 


  1. Enjoy inadvertently plant-based foods 

Some of your favourite foods might be totally vegan, you have just not realised or known it! 

In almost every global cuisine, there are inadvertently vegan dishes which remain at the heart of every meal. From Indian favourites such as dhal or bhajis/pakoras to Arab plates like falafel and hummus, there is ‘vegan’ food everywhere! Even a simple tin of baked beans is plant-based! Tofu is great example of a naturally plant based signature ingredient. In South-East Asian meals, it has been used for many years to create delicious dishes. We highly recommend finding some of these great traditional recipes and giving them a go! 

  1. Discover new ingredients 

For many people, a lack of knowledge around produce makes a plant-based diet seem very limited. However, a bit of research can show that this is very much not the case. There are hundreds of delicious edible plants and fungi to choose from, some of which you may have never heard of. Why not try a recipe for a jackfruit curry or Sticky Shiitake Mushrooms? They really are delicious! 

  1. Reinvent what you know 

A great way to start incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet is to reinvent dishes you know and love. Try swapping some of the meat/dairy ingredients for plant-based alternatives. You might even find you like the vegan alternative better than the original! Check out these recipes for a plant-based chilli, pizza and macaroni cheese.   

Vegan pancakes! These delicious pancakes from a café in Newcastle are completely vegan!
  1. Try a non-dairy milk 

Plant-based milks have grown hugely in popularity in recent years due to their environmental credentials. From oat to soya to almond, there is plenty of choice when it comes to milk alternatives! Take your time to try a few different alternatives ‘til you find which one suits you. 

Key fact: for those living in the UK, oat milk comes out as the most sustainable plant milk option (by considering production and transport emissions). Read more about the different plant milks on the Ethical Consumer webpages

  1. Make small switches 

There are plenty of small switches you can make in your kitchen which can help you make a smooth transition to a more plant-based lifestyle. Trying using oil instead of butter when you cook or maple/golden syrup instead of honey. These changes shouldn’t alter the flavour of your dish too much and puts you well on your way to a more sustainable diet. 

Did we miss one of your favourite vegan tips? Let us know in the comments! 

Did you know? 

Animal products are used in food and beverage production in ways you might be shocked by. 

One example is alcohol. Some alcoholic drinks use animal products in their filtration processes, so are not classed as vegan or plant-based. Lots of wine, beer and cider is produced using gelatine, casein or isinglass (made of fish bladders!). Have a look at your favourite tipple to find out whether it’s vegan or not! 


Willett, W. et al. (2019) “Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT–lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems,” The Lancet, 393(10170), pp. 447–492. Available at:

Food Waste at Newcastle University

Globally, it’s estimated that 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste every year – that’s around 1.3 billion tons! This is a huge problem, especially as we have limited resources to feed an ever-growing population. It is therefore essential we work to avoid waste and make the most of what we have. 

Food waste at Newcastle University

Newcastle University is highly aware of the issues surrounding food waste and has implemented several initiatives to combat this. These include: 

  • Giving excess food to local food banks and to our new Student Pantry. 
  • Catered events are advised to order an amount of food which is less than the amount of people visiting so there is less waste. 
  • Ingredients which are left over are used to make other meals if possible. 
  • If one food outlet closes earlier than another, the food is transported to another that is open later. 

The university also has food waste bins across campus. This waste is taken by an external contractor to an anaerobic digestion facility. Here, billions of bacteria ‘feed’ on the food waste and produce a methane rich ‘biogas’ which can be used for heating and energy production.  For more information on the anaerobic digestion process, check out our current food waste contractor’s website.

Want to know how you can make a difference? Check out these top tips to lower your individual food waste. 

  1. Take stock of what you have 

By checking what you have before you go shopping, you can stop overbuying groceries. Apps such as Kitche are a great way to do this! They allow you to list what you have (and its expiration date!) so you only buy what you need. 

  1. Plan your meals 

By planning a few meals a week, you know exactly what you need to buy when you hit the supermarket and will avoid unnecessary purchases.  A plan can also help you eat healthier and have more variety in your meals. It stops your falling back on the same recipes as you know you have the ingredients to try something new!  

  1. Don’t throw your leftovers 

If you have food leftover from a meal, put it in the fridge or freezer. This means you can eat it at a later date, and it doesn’t get wasted! Top tip: Make sure to label your food with a date so you know how long it has been there to ensure its safe to eat. 

  1. Store your Fruit and Veg right 

Did you know that millions of us are storing our fruit and veg the wrong way? For example, onions and potatoes should not be stored together as onions produce a gas which causes potatoes to spoil. This guide created by Love Food Hate Waste has some great tips about how to best store different products. 

A guide how to organise your fridge by Love Food Hate Waste

  1. Check your fridge temperature  

The average UK fridge is set at least 2°C too warm! This means food will go out of date quicker, leading to more waste. Make sure your fridge is set below 5°C to keep your food fresh for longer. If you’re not sure how to change your fridge temperature, check out this useful guide.  

  1. Try a food waste app 

If you know you won’t use your item and it is still within its use-by date, list it on a food waste app like Olio. This way, you can get rid of items you won’t use and somebody in your community can benefit from a free food donation!   

Did we miss any of your favourite food waste tips? Let us know in the comments below! 

Top 6 Sustainable Fashion Tips

In the past, clothes shopping used to be a special event. It was restricted to something we mostly did when we no longer fit in what we had, or the seasons changed. However, around 25 years ago, this trend changed. 

Fast fashion is a business model which involves copying and mass-producing catwalk/fashion trends. This usually happens very quickly as it aims to make products available while demand is still high. Unfortunately, this usually means that clothes are cheaply made and so are thrown away after a few wears.  Furthermore, the production of these clothes often has serious social and environmental consequences including the over abstraction and pollution of water sources and the exploitation of workers. 

We have put together a few simple tips to stay in style in a more eco-friendly way. 

  1. Be more informed. 

Before you buy something do some background research about the brand’s social and environmental values. This will help you to understand the story behind your purchase and make an informed decision about whether you would like to buy it or not. Sites such as Good on You or the Fashion Transparency Index make finding this information super simple and help you to avoid any greenwashing.  

  1. Change your attitude to shopping. 

Only take to the shops when there is something you need rather than as a way to pass time. This will stop you buying things you don’t need and creating unnecessary waste when they are discarded. Try taking up an alternative hobby such as crocheting or knitting. The results are much more satisfying and better for your wallet too! 

  1. Invest in a Capsule Wardrobe. 

The fast fashion industry is designed to make you feel ‘out of trend’ after a few short weeks. While previously many brands had 4 fashion ’seasons’, many now have 52 ‘micro-seasons’, bringing out new styles every week. This means that it can be difficult to stay up to date with current trends and clothes are quickly disregarded by consumers after a few short wears. We recommend instead investing in a capsule wardrobe. This involves buying some timeless pieces including coats, jackets and t-shirts which you can re-wear throughout the seasons. This will not only help the environment but save you money too! Check out this link for how to create your own capsule wardrobe. 

  1. Look after your Clothes. 

Looking after your clothes is one of the best ways to make sure your garments look great for as long as possible. Make sure you read the care label and only tumble dry if necessary. We also recommend trying to repair your broken items before buying new. Not only will this increase the life of your clothes but also gives you the opportunity to explore your creative side! 

  1. Buy Second-Hand 

Vintage or second-hand shopping has hugely increased in popularity in the last few years and you can certainly see why! Buying clothes second-hand keeps them in circulation for longer, thereby saving them from entering landfill. It can also help save you money and enables you to create your own unique style! Check out Depop and Vinted or some of the great charity and vintage shops we have in Newcastle for some great second-hand finds! 

An amazing charity shop find! This outfit was created by one of our students from clothes she bought from local charity shops.
  1. Rent your Outfit 

Got a big event coming up but don’t want to buy something you will only wear once? Why not rent an outfit! There are plenty of websites you can rent an outfit for an occasion and return it as soon as your event is over. 

Top Tip: Only order what you’ll wear! Some websites will not refund you if you don’t wear the item and will give you store credit instead. This is great if you want to hire clothes in the future s but works out expensive if it’s just a one off! 

Know any more sustainable fashion tips? Let us know your favourite in the comments below! 

Small sustainable swaps for your bathroom

Whilst some of these products may have properties that are more sustainable than other products that we are likely to use, the most sustainable option is to use what you have currently have if it is in a good condition or you have plenty of it. However, should you run out of some bathroom essentials then you should check out the post below for some eco-conscious swaps if you would like to try something new.

Hair care 

  • Why not try out solid shampoo and conditioning bars instead of instead of liquid in a plastic bottle? We recommend Ethique, Lush or Gruum. You could also try out products from the Body Shop, who offer a refill service where you buy a metal bottle and pump and take it into their shops with a refill station when you need products such as shampoo or conditioner. Our Body Shop in Eldon Square is one of these!
  • An additional swap would involve swapping single-use plastic razors for a razor that you can change the head or blades on instead of buying a new handle. You could also get a recycle bag from Gillette to post all your old blades and heads in for them to be recycled.   


You could swap out your single-use deodorant for a case and refill deodorant system, such as the one provided by Wild. We have been using Wild for two years and really love the product. You can order the refills online and change scents every time (look out for their incredible seasonal limited editions) and they arrive through the post-box in recyclable and biodegradable packing.  Or, you can head to Boots in Eldon Square and pick up the product in-store, the only disadvantage here is that they have less scents to choose from!

Menstrual products  

Many menstrual products such as mainstream pads can contain up to 90% of plastic (Action Aid) so there is a need for moving towards more sustainable alternatives. There are a wide range of sustainable alternatives available, we have listed some below:  

  • Menstrual cups (Mooncup or TOTM
  • Menstrual underwear by brands such as WUKA and Thinx
  • Re-usable pads (Wear ‘Em Out or Bloom and Nora available in Holland and Barrett)  
  • Alternatively, you could try non-reusable products that are made from cotton instead of plastic (TOTM

As most of these products are all reusable you can save money overall as you no longer need to buy the products you need every month. However, they do require a larger cost upfront.  

Makeup removal

People often use makeup wipes to remove their makeup. Whilst these are more commonly biodegradable now, not all are, as they may still contain some plastic and they are also not reusable. We have listed an alternative method below.   

  • Switch to make up remover in a bar form (the Superstar bar by Ethique is recommended) instead of makeup removing wipes.  
  • You can also use washable cotton rounds to cleanse and remove makeup or a flannel, both of which can go in the wash and be used repeatedly.  

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Finally, when it comes to a toothbrush there are a few options you can choose from.  

  • The first is investing in an electric toothbrush where you swap out the heads instead of the entire toothbrush. 
  • The second option is to buy a bamboo toothbrush, which reduces your use of plastic.
  • Toothpaste tubes are non-recyclable, but there are some other options available. The first is toothpaste tablets that you can chew and come in a glass container. The second is a paste-like product that also comes in a glass jar instead of a plastic tube. Both these products are available at refill shops around Newcastle like Replenish by the Bay.

Sustainable events in November:

  • We are hosting an energy bills workshop which will focus on budgeting and managing bills with The Green Doctor on the 30th of November. If you are a student who is under 25 and curious or worried about energy bills you can join us to learn some tips and tools to help you and your household.

Sign up:

  • There is also a festive pop-up market taking place on the 24th of November in the Boiler House which will feature ethical and sustainable businesses.

Keep an eye out for a follow up blog on alternative swaps for your kitchen!