Sheffield Market Society are launching their very first Zero Waste Market on Thursday 15 March at Sheffield Students’ Union in the Activities Zone from 12-6pm. We stopped by for a chat with the organisers to find out the whys, whats and whens.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Sheffield Market Society and why it was set up?
Chian Ying Xuan: We organize regular public market events on campus and invite local food producers and independent businesses to come and set up a stall. The idea is to promote more environmentally-conscious grocery shopping through educating buyers about food miles, as well as the availability and advantages of buying local and/or organic produce. We encourage students, staff and members of the public to purchase locally-sourced food by liaising with local farmers and fair trade markets, who sell them at affordable rates on campus. We also endeavour to encourage cooking from scratch amongst the student population and in Sheffield at large, by making fresh ingredients more accessible and affordable, and by facilitating the sharing of quick, easy and nutritious recipes. Importantly, we also strive to foster a positive relationship between buyers and local producers, and support local producers by expanding and diversifying their customer base while showcasing Sheffield’s unique local products. In line with our sustainability mission, we run all our markets on a minimal-waste principle, avoiding plastic packaging and reusing signage where possible!
We hope that visitors sustain the practice of buying local in their daily lives, so we’re working towards running these markets on a fortnightly basis; regularity builds habits! Students are more than welcome to set up a stall too; we had a student selling her hand-drawn artwork at our previous market! If you’re part of a food growing or crafting society and keen to take part in our project, do get in touch. We’re also constantly on the lookout for student volunteers; this is an excellent opportunity to learn about sustainable farming and local businesses, while gaining a number of valuable transferable skills, such as commercial awareness and interpersonal skills.
Krizzi and I established the society in early 2017. It started from one of many sustainability projects developed by Green Impact Sheffield, which was to set up a farmers’ market at the University. This piqued my interest because I had visited several farmers’ markets in Sheffield (Nether Edge and Sharrow Vale) and I loved the friendly atmosphere at these events and getting to know local businesses, and watching communities band together to enliven their streets was very heartwarming. As an architecture student, I was also particularly interested in pop-up, place-making interventions, and wanted to start one of my own!
The Zero Waste/Buy Local Movement seems to be gaining momentum, how do you envisage the Sheffield Market Society contributing to this and affecting real change in this area?
CYX: It’s heartening to see so many independent eco-businesses springing up around Sheffield, to watch students make changes in their daily lives to reduce waste and to buy locally, and ‘zero-waste living’ is becoming quite a sensation on the internet. We hope that by holding markets regularly we can show that reducing our waste is really not as hard or expensive as we think. In fact, reusing can be a lot more convenient – and cheaper! – than heading down to the shops for brand new items, and upcycling crafts are a fun way to spend time with family and friends.
Importantly, we hope to spark conversation about, and inspire tangible action towards, sustainability. Our markets are intended to be platforms for students, staff, local producers, and members of the public to foster relationships with one another and discover new ways to live, shop, and eat more sustainably. It only makes sense to buy from someone we know and trust! If students themselves initiate a regular stall via our events, all the better; we want Market Society to be that approachable avenue for you to bring your sustainable pop-up business idea to life.
Buying local has many benefits that we often don’t realize. You’ll reduce your food miles as your food doesn’t have to travel very far to get to your plate, which also reduces pollution and traffic congestion. Because of that, local food tends to be a lot fresher, tastier, and more nutritious, as many time-sensitive nutrients are preserved. In turn, by supporting local growers and farmers, you can help curb urban sprawl and conserve precious agricultural landscapes and natural habitats.
The Zero Waste Market is coming up soon, what can people expect at this event?
CYX: You’re in for a treat! You’ll get to buy handmade, upcycled jewellery and local soaps that come in eco-friendly packaging. Pop by our student-run booths to make your own terrarium and decorate your own tote for a pound each (bring your own glass container for the terrarium-making activity to get 50p off!), and learn to make your own environmentally friendly toiletries courtesy of Megan, our SU development officer. There’s also a swap-shop for you to discover some pre-loved treasures, and an information booth to find out more about sustainability businesses and societies. What’s more, you’ll get to mingle with folks who are passionate about the planet. Who knows? You could even be inspired to develop your own sustainability project!
Which stall-holders are you most excited about hosting at the market?
CYX: It’s a tough call, I’m excited about the market as a whole! Repair Cafe’s booth sounds really exciting; they were running a workshop at Heeley City Farm the last time we visited. I would like to see them work their magic on some seemingly unsalvageable items.
Polly: There’s nothing like a swap-shop to make new friends and have a dig around for some pre-loved gems. I can’t wait to see what people might bring along for a trade.
KV: I’m very excited to build my own terrarium from recycled jars! I’m a huge fan of house plants and think this is a brilliant idea!
Leticia: I’ve seen some of the handmade jewellery on Pert as a Pyet’s Facebook page. They’re exquisite and colourful!
And finally, when and where is it happening and how can people get involved?
YX: It’s taking place on 15 March, from noon ’til 6pm, at the University of Sheffield Students’ Union’s Activity Zone. Entry is absolutely FREE, so just come along with your friends and family! In line with our sustainability stance, we would recommend travelling by public transport (the nearest tram stop is University of Sheffield) and bringing your own shopping bags to the fair. See you there!
Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/182550655842521/
Interview by Felicity Jackson