Spotlight: People & Planet

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The University of Manchester People & Planet society is part of the national People & Planet network, which is the largest student network in the UK campaigning for social and environmental justice. Their aim is to empower and support students to lead movements that can achieve systemic change. Currently, they run four campaigns – Fossil Free, Sweatshop Free, Undoing Borders and Divest Barclay. You can find out more about each of the projects here.

We spoke to Fritha Heaven and Daniel Johnson of People & Planet about their Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign:

“The Fossil Free Campaign at the University of Manchester was started around 10 years ago by a group of students under the People & Planet Society. This is part of a wider national campaign whose objectives are to exclude the fossil fuel industries from universities’ investment portfolios in favour of more sustainable and ethical investments. At the University of Manchester, this meant campaigning for senior members of staff to agree to divest from fossil fuel companies, a total of almost £12 million. 

Over the 10 years the campaign was running, People & Planet used a variety of direct actions in order to keep up pressure on the university to divest. These have included simple ideas such as leafleting and chalking, as well as more noticeable actions such as creating a papier mache oil pipeline along Oxford Road (which was done in 2015). More recently, the Society decided to escalate its actions and carried out 2 occupations of the John Owens building which helped gain more attention from the University’s Senior Leadership Team. The first was done in July 2019 and lasted 24 hours, and the second in November 2019 lasting 7 days which ultimately led to the University to finally commit to fully divesting from fossil fuels by 2022!

Certainly, the fossil free campaign at the University of Manchester took a long time to reach its final goal, however the shared enthusiasm and creativity of the activists involved has been consistently strong throughout. The ability to run effective actions that are also engaging and fun is, in my view, undeniably one of the main reasons for the campaign’s ultimate success and will surely allow People & Planet to be successful in future campaigns.” 

You can contact People and Planet UoM on their Twitter: @PeopleUoM


Spotlight: Want not Waste

Want not Waste is a zero waste shop that is run entirely by student volunteers. A range of healthy and sustainable products are available at the shop, and they also run workshops, cooking demos and sustainability talks. We spoke to the team, who provided us with a profile on what the shop has been up to:


Want Not Waste is a student-run shop trying to make a sustainable lifestyle affordable and accessible. We are a zero waste project within the University of Manchester Students’ Union Student Action group. We sell a range of ethical goods that can be refilled, reused and recycled. Our sustainable produce is sourced as local as possible to support small independent businesses, student enterprises and charitable projects but it doesn’t stop there. Our blog and events offer a community and safe space to learn and share knowledge as we all endeavour to live a more environmentally conscious life. Want Not Waste also features a small social space offering ethical, fairtrade tea and coffee and a Terracycle hub where you can recycle a variety of items including crisp packets, make up  and bread bags. The team behind WnW are all students and come from various backgrounds, degrees and Universities. We are proud to announce that this academic year we have appointed a committee of 6 enthusiastic volunteers to head up the managing of the project.

Objectives and Goals

Besides making sustainable living affordable and accessible, we aim to share and learn about sustainability in an encouraging and non-judgmental way. Our shop offers a community for students and the public to meet like-minded people, and share eco tips whether this be in person or online. We host a range of free events aimed to educate and share sustainability tips/advice, such as slow-stitch repair workshops, clothes swaps and DIY tutorials. We also use our online presence to create this sense of community with Instagram takeovers, skill-share videos and the recent launch of our blog. Our vision for the next year is changing slightly in response to the current pandemic however we are working with the SU to reopen in some capacity this academic year. Keep your eyes peeled on our social media for updates.


Want Not Waste is a young project and has gone from a small pop up store inside the SU with a handful of volunteers in February 2019 to a group of 30 volunteers and our own premises. We’ve raised over £500 for charity through clothes swaps and Terracycle whilst also operating a shop within our not-for-profit project. More recently our biggest success has been at the UoM Volunteering Awards, UoM Social Responsibility: Making A Difference Manchester Awards and the Students Union Volunteering Awards- the shop, project lead 19/20 Holly Smith and new committee member Natasha Maddison were nominated for a total of 6 awards. We achieved highly commended in 2 categories and won the Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Sustainability and Holly won Volunteer of the Year. We are very proud of everything we have achieved and are excited to continue to build the WnW community this coming year!”

You can visit Want not Waste once the 2020-21 academic year begins at Academy 1, UoM Students Union, Oxford Road, or on their Facebook page.


More Climate Activist Groups on Campus

Extinction Rebellion Youth (XRY) focuses on expanding youth involvement in the climate movement. An XRY society has also been registered at the Students Union, and works with the wider XR community in Manchester to organise and share climate-related events and information. 

Manchester Energy and Environment Society: dedicated towards building a platform for students interested in solving energy and environmental issues. Find out more information about the society on their Facebook page

UoM Climate Network is an informal network of academics, staff and students who meet every week to share important research and action ideas. There are seminars, film screenings, discussions, and meetings.  

Sustainability Seminar Series: delivered every month by academics and researchers at the University, and focus on a range of sustainability topics and research areas. You can find out more information and sign up to the mailing list here.


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