By Ruth Hoey | Advice Editor
What are some swaps to be more environmentally friendly? Is it even possible? Does it cost too much for a student to be environmentally friendly? Is it practical in the already hectic lives of students to try to factor in care for the planet?
In the current climate crisis, it can be overwhelming for us students to try to come to terms with the damage our planet is facing. It can leave us feeling helpless, thinking that our already stretched student loans cannot make more environmentally friendly choices.
However, it does not have to feel this way. There are so many little environmentally friendly swaps, which in many cases can add ease to your student lifestyle.
Firstly, it is a good idea to invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. These are staples for every student and in some coffee shops, bringing in a reusable cup will get you a discounted drink!
Next, skincare products and toiletries can be a major expense for many students. Nevertheless, they are an unavoidable cost. Whether you follow a rudimentary or seventeen step personal grooming routine, there are some swaps which will be beneficial for all.
- Bamboo toothbrushes can now be found in most drugstores and retail shops. Major dental retailer Colgate states that they are great for reducing plastic waste and have a much smaller ecological footprint as bamboo plants regrow very quickly.
- For shampoos, conditioners and soaps it is easy to swap to bars instead of plastic bottles. According to Our World in Data “The world now produces more than 380 million tonnes of plastic every year”, so this is a great switch to reduce your plastic consumption.
- For those who wear makeup, one of the most ground-breaking discoveries I came across was reusable cotton pads for make-up removal. You can reuse these over and over, you just remember to rinse under cold water first and then throw them in with your washing load.
- For those who menstruate, there are so many options from the menstrual cup, to reusable pads and even reusable tampon applicators. When sanitised and looked after correctly these are immensely cost effective. The Guardian claims that “200,000 tonnes of period products end up in UK landfill each year”. Reusable products can astronomically affect this figure as some, such as the cup can last up to ten years.
One other way that you can look after the planet as a student is how you interact with the fast fashion industry. This industry is having devastating effects on our planet. Choosing to buy second-hand clothes is a much cheaper option and with the explosion of platforms such as Depop and Vinted it is easy to find both branded and fashionable clothes and shoes.
Even within Cardiff it is possible to find second-hand clothes. The Facebook group Cathays clothes swap offers super cheap second-hand clothes without the hassle of paying for postage.
Some things, however, just cannot be bought second hand. However, hunting for sustainable brands can be difficult and time consuming. The app Good on You saves you time and effort by compiling information about most brands, rating them on their efforts for the environment and workers rights. This helps you avoid the “Greenwashing” brands which pretend to offer sustainable fashion, but in reality, is just a façade. The app also posts articles listing sustainable brands of all price ranges and style. The best thing is that it does all of this for free!
Environmentally friendly subscription-based services also lend ease to student life. They can regulate how often you are buying these products. For example, the shaving brand Estrid offers cost effective shaving products and also considers its effects on the planet. Estrid offers a starter razor handle made from durable steel. Subsequent razor heads are sent to you in minimal, 100% recyclable packaging. It is also climate compensated, following the UN-certifies Gold standard.
Another example is the cleaning products brand, Smol. This brand is dedicated to finding environmentally friendly solutions to cleaning products. Their website illustrates their ethos and gives live updates on how many tonnes of plastic/carbon they have saved since their launch.
Finally, meal planning is a cost-effective way to reduce the food waste you produce in a week. By planning out all of your meals before your weekly food shop, you can go in knowing exactly the right quantities of each item that you need.
Another food related tip is freezing your leftovers in reusable containers. Cooking for one, as students often do, can lead to lots of food waste. Instead, consider bulk cooking four portions in one and freezing each portion individually which will save you both money and time. Reheating is a much quicker process than cooking from scratch every night!
These are just a few swaps to be environmentally friendly to help you get started. There are so many more ways which you can be kind to the planet. It’s so important that we all do what we can, in whatever capacity that may be!