Life at UCB through the eyes of our student bloggers

Labels: the good, the bad and the ugly

Labels: the good, the bad and the ugly

I hate labels with a vengeance. Why do people have to be categorized and put into boxes? We are all individuals with unique qualities. One size certainly does not fit all. I am who I am, not a clone, lookalike or doppelganger. Call me by my name, not a label.

You might guess then that I rail against tribe mentality, yet I understand that for many people, being part of a recognised group is important and satisfies a need to belong. It could be a football fan club, dance group or gym, or our very own student community at University College Birmingham.

I experienced a rather unexpected consequence of this when shopping recently in Uttoxeter, a market town in Staffordshire some 35 miles from the University. Wearing my “go to” UCB hoodie, I was tapped on the shoulder by a stranger only to be asked what I was studying.  It turned out he had been on my course 10 years previously and is now a successful private chef and part of my network. That conversation would never have happened without the hoodie. Likewise, I popped into an upmarket shoe shop in Birmingham and the assistant, recognising my hoodie, could tell me he studied a sports degree at University College Birmingham.

It just goes to show: wear your hoodie with pride and you never know what opportunities it might lead to.

Labels can be useful in other circumstances. When I pick up something to eat from the supermarket, the label will tell me all sorts of things as well as the price – including calorific value, fat content, additives and any allergens I should be aware of. Now I can compute that information and make an informed decision whether the product is suitable for me and whether to buy it.

However, the labels that really annoy me are those “Best before”, “Use by” and “Sell by” date labels. They really don’t work for me and just result in tonnes of food going into landfill unnecessarily. It is therefore pleasing to see some of these being dropped by supermarkets. For example, Morrisons is removing “use-by” dates from milk at the end of this month – a move it reckons will save millions of pints from being thrown away each year and one that will help it reduce food waste in stores by 50% by 2030. Instead, customers are being asked to use their common sense and smell milk to see if it is usable. Well fancy that!

Actually, what I think would be more revealing is a prominent packing or manufacture date. These can usually be found in a miniscule coded form at the bottom of a jar or container. If they were more visible then we could make up our own minds with some more good old fashioned common sense.

I don’t really like labels, but I hate waste more, which is why I can’t believe I haven’t discovered Too Good To Go before now. A chance chat to Student Guild president Alice Young got me on to this app and its Magic Bags of leftover produce from outlets such as Upper Crust, Starbucks, Trecko and Malmaison. I have seen everything from pastries to handmade chocolates and breakfasts to carveries up for grabs.

And guess what? Even University College Birmingham is on there. Check it out and get a bargain.