Five ways to be more sustainable this academic year

With the advent of Blue Planet II, cotton bud bans, and single use plastics, the environment is a hot topic at the moment. With the beginning of the academic year seeing many students moving homes and changing many things in their lives, now is a perfect time to re-evaluate things and see how you can lessen your impact on the environment this year.

Invest in a reusable coffee cup: One option is a KeepCup, a reusable cup made of cork and glass. Primark sells them, so does T.K Maxx, New Look and the majority of coffee shops. You can really get them anywhere for any budget and doing this will reduce your carbon footprint in the next year by 54kg of CO2. Edinburgh University Students’ Association has just introduced a tax on disposable coffee cups, so by investing a small bit at the beginning of the year, you can save yourself plenty of cash in the long run. In addition to this, chain coffee shops such as Starbucks, Costa, and Pret a Manger offer discounts on coffee with a reusable cup – meaning that in Pret, you can pick up a filter coffee for as little as 49p. You’d really be silly not to.

Sustainable fashion: Did you know that to make a single white t-shirt, 1,300 litres of water are used? That’s 1,300 litres that are now not available for the planet’s wildlife and people. Did you also know that in order to make a pair of jeans, 33.4kg CO2 is produced?

We all need to wear clothes – but buying less or buying things that last longer helps a lot. If you’re short on cash – as I frequently am – then shopping second hand in places like Depop, vintage shops, charity shops and The Resolution Store can be more budget friendly than ethical and sustainable brands.

Eat local, eat seasonal: This one is a little more difficult. Sustainability, level ten, if you will. By eating locally, and seasonally, you not only support local farmers and businesses, but you also cut out the extraordinary amount of CO2 produced when goods are imported from other countries. Why is this difficult? Because so many of the colourful fruit and vegetables people love – tomatoes, peppers, bananas, mangoes – are imported from other countries.

However, the UK does have plenty of its own veg, locally grown – artichoke, butternut squash, potatoes, mushrooms, aubergine, broccoli, and apples, to name a few. So, why not give this a go for a few nights a week, and try basing your meals around a local ingredient?

Think Reusable: By getting a reusable water bottle you can save masses on buying water. In a similar vein, by making your own lunches and bringing it to the library in Tupperware, you prevent all of that packaging from a meal deal being wasted – and save cash while doing it! Tote bags for shopping, reusable produce bags for fruit and veg, metal safety razors instead of disposable plastic ones – the swaps you can make are endless and will save a lot of money in the long run.

Bulk buy: Bulk buying food is not only cheaper but also uses less packaging. Try shops like RealFoods in Tollcross, or the New Leaf co-op in Marchmont. You can bring your own container to fill up with things like rice and oats, and even nut butters. If you can’t do this, try buying the largest packet they have in stock – it’ll be cheaper for what you get, and will last far, far longer – with far less plastic.

 

Image: Brian McNeil via Wikimedia Commons

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