Scoop: Uni of York’s Own Ethical Co-operative

WILD Magazine interviews ‘Scoop’, the University of York’s answer to ethical shopping and living that’s accessible and affordable for students.

First off, describe briefly what Scoop is all about?

Scoop is a student-run co-operative at the University of York selling ethical, organic and unpackaged food. We aim to make ethical food and toiletries affordable for students and staff by selling all our products at the prices we buy them and not making a profit. We want to encourage everyone to live more sustainably no matter what their budget.

What was the inspiration for Scoop?

Although Scoop has been running for more than 9 years, I think the original inspiration was to make organic and Fairtrade products more accessible to everyone.

What inspired you personally to get involved with Scoop?

I started volunteering this year after visiting the shop and realising what an amazing idea it was. I had been trying to make more sustainable purchases and reduce my waste before this so helping out in scoop to make it more sustainable was just a natural progression.

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A sample of the snacks on offer at Scoop

How do you ensure that the products you buy are sustainable?

We buy all of food products from Lembas, a co-operative supplier based in Sheffield. Lembas is an employee owned, cooperatively-run local business committed to the principles of ethical trading, growing, and recycling. We also try to ensure that most of the products we buy are one or more of the following:

  • Purchased in large quantities to reduce packaging waste
  • Organic
  • Fairtrade

In terms of toiletries, we do our own research into the different sustainable products on the market and try and opt for products that are reusable, biodegradable or sold in less packaging. We also try to buy more local goods where possible such as buying British quinoa.

What makes Scoop different from other zero waste stores around York?

It’s simple, we are much cheaper because we don’t make a profit on our products. We also have an assorted selection of repurposed containers for our customers to take when they forget to bring their own. Finally, since we’re run by students, we are very open to requests for new stock.

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Toiletries and household items are also on sale at Scoop

What has been the biggest challenge in running Scoop?

Finding enough volunteers to keep our shop open all day Wednesdays and Fridays, particularly during busy periods like exams!

How can people become more involved in Scoop?

Contact one of our committee members or email us at scoop@yusu.org if you want to volunteer to help keep our shop open. You can also join our Facebook group and come visit our shop to support us and tell us what new products you would like to see.

Have you experienced greater interest in your products as the sustainability movement has grown?

Yes, I think there has been a much greater interest in zero waste, sustainable living and veganism over the last few years that means we now have more interest in our shop. It’s been great to see so many people interested in avoiding plastic and excited to buy our shampoo refills over the last few months.

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Scoop can be found in Wentworth College, on University of York’s Heslington West campus

What has the response to Scoop been so far?

Most people are amazed by how much we sell in such a small space and impressed by our low prices. Our prices are particularly low for herbs and spices which we sell at about four times cheaper than supermarket prices.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Scoop?

You can find us in the Sociology Building (Wentworth college, W/021) thanks to our new signs. We are open Wednesdays and Fridays but join our Facebook group: Scoop (York student food co-op) for full, up to date opening hours.

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