Small swaps in buying habits can make huge environmental differences. Let's explore what changes students can make to live more sustainably.
No matter whether you’re a fresher moving into university halls for the first time or a returning student settling into a house-share with friends, it can be easy to opt for convenience over sustainability. However, the truth is, as a student, you can limit the amount of single-use plastic you use and cut down on the amount of waste you produce with a few simple swaps.
Easy sustainable swaps
From ditching plastic water bottles and switching to plastic-free toilet roll to buying second hand vintage clothing, living a more sustainable lifestyle is easy. This guide looks at six simple swaps all students can make.
Single-use plastic shopping bags are terrible for the environment. While they may be highly convenient during a trip to the supermarket, the vast majority of them end up in landfill where they take thousands of years to break down. With this in mind, one of the easiest sustainable swaps a student can make is to trade in single-use plastic shopping bags for a few reusable bags.
Whether you opt for a trusty backpack, branded ‘bag for life’, or stylish canvas tote bags, this simple swap is not only good for the environment, but it will also help you save money by avoiding the plastic bag charge!
Plastic-free toilet and kitchen roll
For many students, going plastic free in the kitchen and bathroom can be tough. With so many mainstream products made from (or packaged in) single-use plastic, convenience often wins over sustainability. However, there are many ways to cut down on your plastic usage in these communal areas. One of the most straightforward swaps students can make involves their choice of toilet and kitchen roll brand.
Assuming the average household uses three toilet rolls per week, they go through 150 rolls over the course of a year. In a large student house-share, this consumption is likely to be even higher. If you think about the sheer amount of single-use plastic packaging that you put straight into the bin as a result, you may well be shocked.
That’s why at Oceans, our plastic-free kitchen rolls and toilet rolls are wrapped in paper. This is much easier to recycle and takes less energy to manufacture. So, by simply swapping to a brand like Oceans, you won’t have to worry about all that plastic waste, enabling you to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
Aside from cutting down on plastic packaging, there are other ways to go plastic free in the bathroom. Take your toothbrush, for example. Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. If you use traditional plastic toothbrushes, that’s a lot of discarded plastic over the course of your lifetime. Luckily, there is an alternative.
Biodegradable bamboo brushes are now readily available and just as affordable as plastic alternatives. Unlike synthetic plastic materials, bamboo is 100% natural and fully biodegradable. This means once thrown away, it naturally breaks down and does not pollute land or sea. Many universities now even provide free bamboo toothbrushes during freshers’ week!
Reusable bottles and coffee cups
As well as household swaps, there are also many small changes you can make to ensure you are more sustainable on the go. The simplest change you can make in this regard is swapping takeaway coffee cups and plastic drinks bottles with reusable alternatives.
With lectures, seminars and all-day library sessions commonplace in the life of a student, we know the occasional takeaway coffee or supermarket meal deal is essential. However, did you know many coffee shops not only sell reusable cups and flasks but also offer a discount on their drinks when you come in for a refill? This means ditching single use for reusable can help you save some cash as well as help the environment when it comes to grabbing a coffee.
The same applies to single-use plastic drink bottles. Did you know 80% of plastic bottles don’t end up being recycled? Those that aren’t often end up in landfills or the ocean. By swapping out single-use plastic bottles with a reusable water bottle you can do your bit for the environment and, by filling up at drinking stations rather than buying pre-bottled water, can save money in the long run too!
Whether you’re clothes shopping or after a few items to make your university house feel more homely, purchasing secondhand items is a great way to live more sustainably. With the rise of apps like DePop and Vinted, the preloved and vintage markets have never been more popular in the UK. By changing habits and looking to buy secondhand rather than new in the first instance, you can save money and prevent perfectly good, preloved items from ending up in landfill or our oceans.
When it comes to easy plastic-free swaps to help protect the environment, every small change you make in your life can lead to a huge difference. If you make these changes as a student, when many are living independently for the first time, these are habits that can stick for life. On top of this, as we have explored above, many of these swaps also come hand-in-hand with money savings. So what are you waiting for? Introduce some of these small swaps to your life today, do your bit for the environment, and save some money in the process!