Being a Sustainable Student
A fresh start at university could be a great opportunity to learn the ways of sustainable living, which may sound like a complex task but could greatly benefit your budget along with our environment. The majority of products we use are often single-use, but thankfully a wide development of sustainable products are now readily available for you to begin your first steps into a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
How can I become a Sustainable Student?
1) Food and Drink
You’ll often see many students walk around with their own reusable cups/bags/straws, that’s because refilling or bringing your own reusable products is a simple trick that can also bag you a discount such as at Starbucks. This little change can help you avoid contributing towards the 700,000 bottles that become litter every day and help you to understand the global initiative of preventing marine pollution worldwide.
Take the veggie option every once in a while, or always?. Meat production, especially that of beef, contributes for up to 105kg of greenhouse gas compared to that of tofu production of 3.5kg. It may be a good idea to switch up your diet for a healthier and far more sustainable lifestyle, so choosing a veggie diet that’s preferably locally sourced with the addition of plant-based milk alternatives would be recommended. Furthermore, waste packing is another concern within the food industry. This may be solved through “Refill stations” where you can bring your own storages boxes or jars and pay for what you need, which may be beneficial for a weekly/monthly budget and can range from food to hygiene products. There are multiple refill stations set up around the UK and within York you can visit Alligator Wholefoods, York Student Food Co-op and Demijohn’s.
2) Cosmetics and Clothing
Some of us may have time to look good before a 9am lecture, so wouldn’t it be even better if your luxurious cosmetic products were recyclable, sustainable and cruelty-free?.
The demand for organic and natural products have grown in desirability along with its need for sustainable packing. When buying products you should always check the label to see if the product is indeed an eco-friendly or visit one of many local cosmetic stores such as The Body Shop and LUSH who support a range of globally sustainable products in which some items require no packaging and are completely biodegradable along with the use of recycling schemes in return for store discounts. In terms of alternative beauty and hygiene products you may also want to invest in some organic toothpastes, mouthwashes and shampoo bars, which can be stored in glass containers instead of plastic for reusable purposes.
Besides buying products new from the shops many students turn to charity shops and for good reason. Charity shops helps to promote the art of recycling that benefits the reduction of landfill including the tax and CO2 emissions for bulk clothing pickups and transportation to landfill sites. Additionally, whenever you’ve finished with a pair of jeans or an old top you can donate to the cause and quite practically trigger “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and be a member of the recycling crew, plus who doesn’t love a bargain?
3) Sanitary Products
Besides being considerably expensive and mostly non-biodegradable, sanitary products are a necessity that many of us will use throughout our life. As these synthetic products are made of 90% plastic and are often bleached with chlorine it is said that a single sanitary product may take between 500-800 years to decompose, which in terms of our Carbon Footprint makes up around 5.3kg every single year.
There are quite a few biodegradable and reusable options available on the market, however it may be more suitable to buy them from local stores instead of shipping from abroad. Brands such as TOTM, Mooncup, Cheeky Wipes and Natracare are a few brands that can start you on your way for a plastic free period that are available on the highstreets at stores including Tesco’s and Holland & Barrett. While some products are reasonably priced, the multi-use purpose of these products will outweigh the cost, furthermore, saving you a fortune in the long run.
Not only will you be saving money and making our environment cleaner, you will also have the benefit of reducing your bodies intake of synthetic fragrances and bleaching chemicals which are said to cause allergic reactions and endocrine-disrupting effects.
Lower your carbon footprint by using public transport and help to save the environment from harmful greenhouse gasses. For short journeys you may want to consider public transport as they have a significantly lower carbon emission rate than travelling by car and helps to reduce road traffic congestion for those on longer journeys. If you don’t wish to use public transport you could also choose to cycle or run to your destination, which unlike the alternative travel options are a healthier, cost friendly and overall smarter choices to reduce emissions. Furthermore, with many more bus companies resorting to alternative energy options from petroleum to hydrogen the idea of sustainable travel is becoming a beneficial reality for our daily commutes and global climate.
Travelling in pursue of a well needed holiday doesn’t need to have a negative impact on our climate. Travelling by air has a substantial CO2 emission rate which has increased by roughly 83% since 1990 for international aviation. The effects of burning a significant amount of fuel along with the affects of “contrails”, the white lines you see from a plane in fight, account for up to 5.7% emission growth between 2017-2018. So, instead of commuting by plane to locations with alternative travels options you may want to weigh out your options for cost, time and carbon footprint to be a more sustainable traveller.
You can visit these following websites to see how you can make a difference through sustainable living:
Food Friendly: https://thezerowaster.com/zero-waste-near-you/
Plastic Free Periods: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/plastic-periods-menstrual-products-and-plastic-pollution
Sustinable Travel: https://www.treehugger.com/travel/how-make-travel-more-sustainable.html
To a more Sustainable Future!
Taking these small steps into having a sustainable lifestyle is a challenging but well rewarding overall. Always remember to try find an alternative method that may be more sustainable and don’t forget to share with your friends so we can all be a part of the sustainable movement to benefit a cleaner environment.