Sustainable food

This includes University-owned shops and cafes, purchasing and communication.

Did you know?

The Sustainable Restaurant Association awarded the university’s hospitality service ‘Occasions’ the highest possible level – three stars – and all of our ‘Beyond Ordinary’ cafes have been awarded two out of three stars. For further information visit the sustainable-catering page on the Estates Services website.


What we are doing

We encourage all purchasers to work with suppliers in an environmentally responsible way. Our sustainable approach aims to:

  • minimise food miles where possible
  • opt for local and seasonal produce where possible
  • choose organic foods where practical and cost-effective

Food waste is sent to Anaerobic Digestion creating energy and soil improver.

Our policy

The University's Sustainable Food Policy coordinates all sustainable food initiatives across the University to reduce the negative environmental impact of the food we eat.

View our Sustainable Food Policy for more information.

Proud to be Fairtrade

Oxford is a Fairtrade University, along with a number of colleges, after securing accreditation under the Fairtrade University and College Award Scheme. It means we help to ensure the people who produce the University’s food and drink get a fair cut of the proceeds. It also sets the University challenging goals that will take several years to achieve.

The first colleges to receive accreditation are Wadham, Keble, Lady Margaret Hall, University, Christ Church and Queen’s colleges. Further colleges and other parts of the University will have the opportunity to get involved over time.

A wider range of Fairtrade goods will also become available. Look out for the Fairtrade labels!

Find out what is fair trade, and why is it important.

Ways for you to get and stay involved!

We can all make a positive contribution by buying, consuming and disposing of food responsibly. It can be as simple as using a keep cup instead of wasteful disposable ones.  

Here are a few ways to support sustainable food practices throughout the University:

As well as buying Fairtrade products, why not support Fairtrade Fortnight?

Each year for two weeks over February and March, Fairtrade puts a spotlight on trade through their Fairtrade Fortnight campaign. Look out for ways to get involved in your college. Find out about Fairtrade Fortnight on the website.

The Students Union runs Veggie Pledge in November each year. Open to staff and students, this is a great way to discover low carbon food options. The campaign encourages students and staff to try vegetarian and vegan foods by creating competition between colleges to sign up the most people.

A plant-based diet generally uses less energy and produces less pollution than a carnivorous one, so cutting down on meat consumption is one of the easiest ways for people to reduce their environmental impact.

Refill Oxford is part of a national campaign to promote the use of free tap water to reduce plastic waste. There is a network of 150 Refill stations in different locations all over the city so you can refill your water bottles for free whenever you need to, rather than buying a new bottle.

The Refill stations all display a blue-branded Refill sticker on their door or window. Participating organisations are also all mapped on the free Refill app for you to easily find your nearest Refill point wherever you are in the city. The app even comes with a handy water bottle reminder. So dust off your refillable bottle, download the Refill app to your phone and join the #RefillRevolution!

To find your nearest Refill station in Oxford, visit to download the Refill app

In partnership with the Oxford University Student Union, we have created edible growing plots around the University. These are maintained by staff and students with produce grown for sharing.

Find out about Edible Gardening.

Fruit and vegetables taste best when in season, as well as being better value and good for the planet.

Find out what’s in season and eat seasonably. Visit the Eat Seasonably website.

Don't waste food. Download a mobile app and fight food waste. Find out about Olio and Too Good to Go

Take a look too at the links in the Explore section on the right.

Spread the word

If you work or study at the University, find out what sustainable food initiatives are happening in your college or department. Or maybe you have an amazing idea? Tell the Environmental Sustainability team. We would love to hear your stories and share them.

Contact us at