So you're going back to uni and maybe you've had some time to reflect over the summer break on your personal impact on the environment. This thought can be a heavy one and might even weigh you down, but that doesn't mean you can take action now and make some simple swaps to reduce your impact, plus they'll save you money!
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1. Disposable Bottle to Reusable Bottle
We all rely on water bottles every day. If you often find yourself buying overpriced disposable plastic bottles for the convenience, think about how much money you’ll save with a reusable water bottle like the BBBYO Stainless Steel Bottle. Most schools and university campuses have water fountains where you can refill your bottle over the course of the day.
Approximately 370 million plastic water bottles end up in landfill every year. This is in Australia alone. Many of the plastic bottles end up polluting the ocean and harming our precious marine life. With each bottle taking roughly 400 years to break down properly; it’s no surprise that many are making the simple switch to a reusable option.
2. Disposable Cup to Reusable Cup
If your day, like many other students, starts with a takeaway cup of coffee, this is one of the easiest switches you’ll make. Bring along a reusable coffee cup to your local campus café to reduce your daily waste; you may even get a discount for bringing your reusable cup! With plenty of different designs KeepCups, Sol Cups, JOCO, RCup, Huskee and more are an amazing option to enjoy coffee on the go.
It’s estimated that Australians use one billion disposable coffee cups per year. Disposable coffee cups, along with their lids, contain plastics that don’t break down easily. They’re also the second-largest contributor to litter waste after plastic bottles.
3. Driving Independently to Sustainable Transportation
Sustainable transport refers to transport that is considered to have a lower impact on the environment; walking, cycling, carpooling and public transport are all greener options as opposed to making the trip in your own car.
It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, traffic congestion and dependence on non-renewable energy sources. For students who aren’t made of money, it’s definitely a cheaper option.
4. Disposable Packaging to Reusable Packaging
With long days either at school or uni, it’s tempting to grab some takeaway food. Often, a single serving of food is laden with plastics: disposable containers, utensils, plastic straws and wrapping to name a few. It’s damaging to our planet and easy to avoid. This BPA free lunchbox from Cheeki is the perfect alternative to disposable plastic containers and cling wrap. Ask for leftovers to be placed in your lunch box, or simply bring your own lunch from home to avoid those pesky single use plastics.
Did you know that Styrofoam never actually breaks down? The last-minute takeaway you got on campus the other day - that container will exist in landfill for an extremely long time and could end up in the ocean harming marine life.
5. Fast Fashion to Ethical Fashion
As a school or uni student on a budget, it can be hard to justify spending the money for an ethically made dress or handbag. It's easier to opt for throwaway garments that are cheap to make and cheap to buy. The materials, usually produced in developing countries, are often synthetic and known for shedding harmful microplastics as they break down. It's also very hard to trace the supply chain and the conditions in which these garmenst are made. Everytime I see a T Shirt for $2 I question how this has been produced and how much the workers are being paid. All of our backpacks are vegan, cruelty free and perfect for everyday use at school or uni.
According to ABC’s The War On Waste, 36,000kg of clothes are thrown away in Australia every hour. Plus, it takes 2700 litres of water to produce one item of clothing. By investing in some quality staples, we can begin to minimise the increasing wastage from fast fashion.
6. Inactivity to Campus Action
This can be said for every school, university, or workplace; improper disposal of litter can be unsightly, costly, and harmful to the environment. Find out if your campus has a good recycling system. If nothing is in place, encourage your campus to label bins and provide free information so that no rubbish is placed in the wrong bins. Improving recycling is a great way for students to get involved and engage people in good sustainable practices.
You may even be interested in running events to raise awareness and change behaviours. A Repair Café, where broken things can be repaired; a Swap Party, where old clothes are exchanged; or screening a sustainability documentary where ideas can be discussed afterwards.
7. Plastic Bags to Reusable Bags
An easy one. If you’re a school student still living home, encourage your parents to make the switch to reusable bags. These reusable shopping bags are lightweight, compact and made from certified organic cotton. If you’re a uni student, pop a few bags in the boot of your car before you go shopping. Another easy switch is to bring your own Green + Kind Produce Bags to the supermarket and bulk food store; you’ll save money and reduce your overall plastic waste.
Australia uses 10 million plastic bags per day; causing irreversible damage to our oceans and landscapes. This is an enormous number that can be easily reduced with little effort.
8. Paper Usage to Electronic Notes
Many students take notes on laptops. But if you’re one to take notes by hand and you want to practice more sustainable habits, consider the switch to digital note taking. In addition to this, consider whether that expensive textbook you’re about to buy is really worth it. To cut down on paper waste, you may be able to rent it, buy an e-book version, or share with someone else. Encourage your school or university to go paperless to save money and help the environment.
9. Excessive Meat Consumption to Going Vegan for a Month
If you eat meat regularly, consider cutting back or try going vegan for a month. If you’re a student at home, encourage your family to reduce their own meat consumption for their health and for the environment.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. Cutting back on, or cutting out, meat is one of the simplest and most effective ways to become a more sustainable student. Plus it's cruelty free which we love.
10. Toxic Products to Ethical Makeup/Skincare
Ethically produced makeup and skincare is in growing demand; for good reasons, too. Over 200,000 animals suffer and die per year as a result of animal testing. Plus, many toxic ingredients are also present in your makeup and skincare, often leading to dehydrated, sensitive skin. Here at F&F, we stock a wide range of organic, vegan skincare and makeup products; free from any nasty chemicals. We have great value ranges such as Benecos to help you make the shift.
Being a student doesn’t mean you’re powerless or unable to make a difference. Make it your aim to implement even one of these switches per week. Whether it’s buying a reusable water bottle or refusing unnecessary plastics like straws, committing to these easy switches will create cultural change and encourage a happier, healthier environment.
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