If the recent report of the IPCC has shocked you, you are not alone. It makes one think what can be done about it. Our environment is polluted by humans and climate change is not the only problem. We all know about the plastic in our oceans and landfills and have seen the photos of animals that suffer from humankind’s way of living. I believe that change has to come from the government, business and consumers. We all play a part in changing this world and just because you are only a student, doesn’t mean that you are powerless. In addition to voting at elections, everyone has the ability to vote with their money every day. By making conscious choices when consuming, you have the power to change.
I’ve put together a list of affordable and sustainable purchases you can make instead of their unsustainable counterparts.
This post will be the first of a series of blog posts that is all about sustainable lifestyle choices as a student. Enjoy!
- Safety razor instead of plastic disposable razor
Why? Razors nowadays create a lot of plastic litter since have to throw away the whole head and most of the times only keep the whole razor for a few years if even. This is a polluter to our environment and can be avoided.
Instead: A safety razor is made from stainless steel. Instead of changing the entire head of the razor, you are only changing the blades. It’s basically the razor our grandparents used. They look incredibly chic and most importantly, will last you a lifetime. There are lots of different safety razor and they come at different price ranges starting from around €20 or maybe even cheaper. Do some research and you’ll find the one for you! Keep in mind that you’ll be able to keep it your whole life and you’ll only need to repurchase the little packs of blades. So this sustainable lifestyle hack doesn’t come with at a high price point.
- Bar of soap instead of shower gel/ face wash/ liquid hand soap
Why? Shower gels and face washes are made with toxic chemicals most of the time that are washed down the drains and end up in oceans, rivers or groundwater and kill aquatic and terrestrial species. They are packaged in plastic that ends up in the ocean. They are often made using palm oil which is causing deforestation and climate change.
Instead: Again, a bar of soap is what our grandparents used before shower gel was invented. Ideally, you’ll look for a soap that is packaged in paper, carton or even unpackaged and that is made from natural ingredients only. You can use it to shave, to clean your hands and body and even to cleanse your face. There are even bars of soap specifically made for facial skin or even acne prone skin.
- Wooden dish brush instead of plastic dish brush or plastic sponge
Why? Sponges and dish brushes are made from plastic and pollute our environment.
Instead: Wooden dish brushes are made from a wooden handle and a wooden head with either plant-based fibres or animal-based fibres (I recommend plant based ones since they will have a neutral scent). You can change the head and keep the handle for a couple of months or even years if it doesnt get wet too much. It works just as well as their unsustainable siblings.
- Vinegar and soap instead of chemical cleaning products
Why? The chemicals in commercial cleaning products are not just bad for your health, but will also end up in our water, harming ecosystems.
Instead: There are lots of homemade and natural cleaning recipes online but most of the time they are based on vinegar, soap, lemon and baking soda. You can clean surfaces, floors, windows, showers and mirrors with vinegar or put dish soap and water in an empty spray bottle. The best vinegar to clean is a cheap white vinegar (distilled). You can even add vinegar to cut flowers so that they last longer.
- Reusable cutlery instead of plastic disposable cutlery
Why? To-go cutlery is used once and thrown away after. It pollutes our environment since it is made from plastic most of the time. Even if it is made from biodegradable materials like cornstarch, it is not necessarily ideal. Growing corn causes soil erosion and requires pesticides and fertilisers.
Instead: There are lots of different kinds of reusable to-go cutlery sets you can get. They can be made from wood, stainless steel or other sustainable materials and are wrapped in a cloth pouch or something similar but the key point is that you bring it with you wherever you go and use it when eating on the go. When you are at home you can wash it and use it again and again and again. You can even simply wrap a set of your own cutlery in a cloth or put it in some kind of pouch and have yourself a DIY version of to-go cutlery.
- Vegan meal instead of meat-based meal
Why? The UN said “The food system is unsustainable and is driving climate change – if we want to minimize the impact of the food industry on our planet we must eat less meat, reduce food waste, and rethink farming practices.” A UN-approved study says that thanks to the population and income growth expected between 2010 and 2050, impacts including driving climate change, depleting freshwater and pollution through excessive use of nitrogen and phosphorous, could grow between 50-90%. This could push our world beyond its planetary boundaries, which the authors say represent a “safe operating space for humanity on a stable Earth system”. A flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan diet is recommended – “We can eat a range of healthy diets but what they all have in common, according to the latest scientific evidence, is that they are all relatively plant based,” said lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford.
Instead: Almost every shop, restaurant and cafe has some kind of vegan alternative to their breakfasts/ lunches/ dinners/ snacks. Keep your eyes open and always try the vegan alternative if it fits your taste.
I hope you got inspired to implement some of these easy and cheap lifestyle changes and make a difference. Let me know if you like this new series and I am excited to prepare some more tips for you!