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Students raise £1.5m with waste-busting campaign

Prada bags and Jimmy Choo shoes are just some of the surprising things that University of Bristol (@BristolUni) and University of the West of England (@UWEBristol) students have donated to the Bristol Big Give, which raises money for the British Heart Foundation (@TheBHF) and local charities.

The 96,989 bags of donations were gathered from halls, private student accommodation and dozens of temporary BHF collection banks at the end of the last nine academic years.

The universities have been running end of year donation schemes for many years but teamed up with the British Heart Foundation and minted it the Bristol Big Give in 2013.

Since then, students have donated more than 900-tonnes of goods – an average of 100-tonnes a year – worth a total of £1,357,846.

The campaign is led by students with the help of university staff.

Sophie Henley, a University of Bristol student interning with the sustainability team, said:

“Helping to lead the Bristol Big Give this year has been really inspiring.

“It’s great to see how many students are keen to get involved by donating their unwanted items – doing what’s best for the environment and raising money for an amazing cause!”

Students moving out of their accommodation donate everything from unwanted clothes and furniture to sporting equipment and non-perishable food.

Tim Reeves, University Account Executive for the British Heart Foundation in the South West and Northern Ireland, said:

“Our relationship with the Bristol Big Give as a charity over the nine years we have been part of it has been a hugely productive one for all partners involved.

“We are very proud to stand with our colleagues in Bristol and be part of something that raises vital funds; reuses much loved items; saves tonnes of items going to landfill and offers many opportunities for volunteering as well as helping promote a wonderful community spirit.”

The BHF sets up donation points in residential areas and across both university campuses. Some are temporary and some stay in place throughout the six months of the campaign.

Their donations are then collected and sold through the BHF’s shops, raising money for vital, life-saving research.

Heart and circulatory diseases cause around a quarter of all deaths in the UK, or some 460 deaths every day.

Dr Erik Lithander, the University of Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement, said:

“The Bristol Big Give is a great example of the whole city pulling in one direction – cutting waste and benefitting dozens of charities, not least the BHF.

“We know our students are always looking for ways to help out – last year 10,000 University of Bristol students did some kind of voluntary work.”

Paul Roberts, Head of Environment and Sustainability at UWE Bristol, said:

“We are immensely proud of our students for their involvement in the Bristol Big Give. The campaign has gone from strength to strength and is a great example of students’ positive impact on the city.

“UWE Bristol has a strong commitment to climate action and sustainability – reducing waste like this helps keep materials from landfill or incineration, as well as providing much needed funding for research into heart disease. It also helps reduce climate-heating greenhouse gas emissions.”

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