The main barrier for students developing a more sustainable lifestyle is the dire need to budget. Therefore, sustainability is often a concept that is not incorporated into the lifestyle of students. However, informed understanding regarding sustainability may result in greater financial awareness and a healthier lifestyle.
Fast fashion is the latest trend among young people over the concern of following the latest fashion trends – but at what cost? The environmental impact of fast fashion is awfully detrimental, as not only does fast fashion contribute to resource and waste pollution, but clothing also has a short lifespan. This short lifespan results in people overconsuming, making fast fashion a rapidly growing industry. My article on woke washing further delves into the problematic sector and why you should abstain from fast fashion (if you can).
A solution to this is participating in thrift shopping, which is far more sustainable than fast fashion. Engaging in thrift shopping has allowed me to purchase goods at a cheaper price whilst saving items that would have otherwise been disposed of. Apart from thrift/charity shops, there are also second-hand websites such as Vinted and Depop. Not only can you buy second hand, you can also give unwanted clothes a second life whilst making some money. If you are picking up our first print edition of the year, be sure to check out my article about the best thrift shops in Nottingham!
The meat industry is highly unsustainable – livestock farming contributes to 14.5% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. By reducing meat consumption (or becoming vegetarian/vegan), students can consume more sustainably. Although the myth that meat-free diets are expensive is still prevalent, the reality is that they don’t have to be.
Drinks can be filled in personal coffee cups (at a reduced price)
Beans, lentils, vegetables, and meat-free alternatives can be equal to or cheaper than meat-based meals. If you need some inspiration for vegan swaps, check out my Veganuary article. And if you feel like you need some help transitioning and want to meet similar people, consider joining VegSoc!
Moreover, the plastic epidemic is evident. Consequently, there has been a rise in plastic-free alternatives in the market. I have purchased multiple plastic-free alternative products – including bamboo coffee cups (£2 in HomeBargains), steel containers, and metal straws. Not only are they more durable, but they can also be equally convenient. In coffee shops, drinks can be filled in personal coffee cups (at a reduced price), and you can bring your plastic-free packaging to supermarkets (69p for two reusable fruit bags at Lidl).
Food waste levels in western societies remain high – yet fighting food waste is easier than it looks! Firstly, write a shopping list so that you don’t overbuy and waste food. Secondly, when handling fresh produce, remember to bring containers/reusable bags. Thirdly, there are sustainable ways of disposing of excess food. One way is by donating to food banks. Food back donation trolleys are often present in supermarkets.
Technology has adapted to tapping into sustainability
Another way of fighting food waste is by listing food or collecting unwanted food online through the OLIO app, which is an app that operates to locally fight food waste. Food waste is such a severe problem that even franchises, and independent businesses have taken it upon themselves to fight it in an app named Too Good To Go. On the app, you can order discounted meals and food, and businesses such as Greggs, Morrisons and SPAR are already on there. Not only are businesses reducing their food waste (whilst still maintaining a profit), users can also save money by buying cheaper food.
Technology has adapted to tapping into sustainability – even basic everyday tasks such as browsing the web can be made sustainable. This is through a browser called Ecosia, where simply searching on the browser will plant trees. Ecosia works by using the revenue gained by searching the internet to plant trees and provide jobs for people. Therefore, students can download the browser to help save the planet. If you want to find out more about Ecosia, check out my campaign at @nottinghamonecosia, and read about it here.
Ultimately, sustainable living isn’t about perfection. It is about trying. Saving the planet doesn’t consist of one person living sustainably without fault. It’s about thousands of people doing it imperfectly.
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