It's that time of the year where cities are flooded with students both new and old. If you are heading back or just arriving, this post goes over some small changes you can make to be an eco friendly student. Whether you are a certified eco warrior already or you just want to reduce your impact, these cheap and easy tips will help you out!
Tip 1: Laundry
So you've got to uni and the dirty, alcohol (and god knows what else) stained clothes are pilling up. The washing machine is an alien object you've never even seen before, never mind used. That's what parents are for... right? Since this is all new, we may as well skip past the bad habits.
Most leading laundry tablets test on animals, come in giant plastic packets and contain lots of nasty chemicals that effect us as well as the planet. Luckily there are other options, personally I use Smol! Every month their laundry tablets get delivered to your door tailored to your usage, completely free of plastic, cruelty and nasty chemicals. They are also cheaper than the leading brands so nice and student friendly!
Another option would be to switch to laundry eggs e.g Ecoegg. This is a good option if you don't want to commit to a monthly subscription. The egg itself is plastic but can be reused for up to 10 years, then each replaceable pellet lasts 50 washes. The case is BPA free and recyclable and the pellets do not contain palm oil, any nasty chemicals or micro-plastics so are great for sensitive skin. Even the packaging is sustainable and recyclable right down to the vegetable-based inks.
Whatever you choose, good luck - if the campus washing machines are anything like Yorks, you'll need it.
Tip 2: Food Storage
Okay so its more like 2a, b, c and d...
Stretch lids are silicon, strange looking circles you can use to store your food that effectively replace clingfilm. All you have to do is stretch them over your mugs, bowls and pots to keep your food nice and fresh! When you are done give them a wash, let them dry and use again. The upfront cost is more than a roll of clingfilm, but you if you look after them you can use them for years to come and seriously reduce your plastic waste. Prices vary with brands, mine are Evecase - £7.99 for 12 with a variety of sizes.
Reusable Food Bags
These bags are a god send! Made from food grade and eco friendly PEVA they are leakproof, BPA free, freezer safe and of course, reusable. You can literally store any food in them and are so handy to have around. Saves you a lot of single use plastic storing food, just wash and use again! I got a 12 pack of multiple sized bags from Newdora for £11.99.
Beeswax wraps are one of the most popular eco friendly products and another replacement to clingfilm. They can be used for just about anything from wrapping cheese and sandwiches, to fridge storage and covering bowls. Just like the others, they can be used again and again; armed with all three plastic in the kitchen will become a thing of the past!
One of the easiest way to reduce your impact on the planet is by meal planning. Food waste in the UK is a massive problem, in 2019 we threw away £9.7 billion worth of food. Meal planning helps prevents you from buying more than you need, saving money and waste. Plus it stops you from eating frozen chicken nuggets for dinner every night.
Tip 3: Toilet Paper
Another easy way to help out the planet is being more selective with your toilet roll purchases. As a single use paper product it not only contributes to deforestation but the manufacturing process is incredibly wasteful. The chemicals involved in the process, such as Chlorine, can pollute local water sources.
There is a growing market for eco friendly toilet roll alternatives, at home we get Who Gives A Crap delivered monthly. It's made of sustainable materials and is free of inks, dyes and scents. If that wasn't enough they give 50% of profits to help build toilets for those in need! However, its a subscription service and can be a little tricky at uni, so I found the Cheeky Panda which you can get at most supermarkets. It does still have plastic packaging but the toilet paper itself is made from sustainable bamboo sources and is free from all the nasties that average toilet paper is stuffed with, so it is the better choice! Keep your bum and the planet happy :)
Tip 4: Go dairy free - Milk
Whether you use 5 cartons of milk a day on tea like my flatmate or just a little splash on your cereal on a morning, it might be worth considering switching to a dairy-free alternative. The meat and dairy industry is said to release more greenhouse gases than any other food industry and that's forgetting the mass water usage, energy and waste it produces. The life of most dairy cows is far from the images of happy cows in lush green fields that we are shown. If you don't want to give up meat, switching to dairy free milk is the next best thing you can do for the planet.
There are so many alternatives: almond, coconut, cashew, rice... need I go on? Give them all a go and see which one makes you switch! Oat milk is my favourite, I personally think it's tuns better than cow's milk and if you are up for a uni experiment it's not even that hard to make yourself. Soy milk is said to be the closest substitute in taste and nutrition making it the most popular alternative. Whatever you choose, make it dairy free!
Tip 5: Walk and Cycle
We all know that transport has a big effect on the environment in more ways than one, from noise to air pollution. The simplest way to reduce your impact is to walk and cycle as much as you can (I normally opt for walking to avoid falling in bushes). At uni this is normally pretty easy as you are never too far away from where you need to be. In a post Corona world it's simpler and safer to do so anyway! Plus a little stroll helps cure hangovers <3
These are just some really simple things you can do to have a more eco friendly lifestyle and of course they aren't only for uni. Some of them have a bigger upfront cost but will save you money overtime so if you fancy switching but you can't get everything at once it's okay, build up your eco empire overtime! Just remember that even the littlest changes can make a big difference, especially when we all do it...
As always, thanks for reading!