Sustainability can seem expensive and out-of-reach, especially for young people – here are some easy and cheap swaps to help the planet.
The environment is perhaps more important to us than ever before – according to Young Minds, 87% of young people worry about climate change. While the environment often seems like a hopeless situation, particularly from the point-of-view of a student with only a small budget, this is far from the truth. There are still countless ways that students and young people can help the well-being of our planet:
Sustainable fashion – giving old clothes a new lease on life is an exciting way you can tackle the impacts of fast fashion. The UK is the largest consumer of new clothes in Europe with 300,000 tonnes going in household bins every year. These discarded clothes end up at the landfill or incinerated, emitting chemicals which harm the ozone. So, head over to your local charity shop or browse second-hand clothing apps such as Vinted and Depop to shop for your new wardrobe. Giving life to preloved pieces not only makes our planet happy, but also your bank account. By shopping preloved you’re spending a fraction of the price compared to the high street price tags. A win for all!
Vegetarian options – vegan and vegetarian options in cafes, restaurants and grocery shops have grown enormously in the past few years. You don’t even need to commit to changing your entire diet forever – small changes can make huge differences. Swapping from semi-skimmed to oat milk, or from chicken to tofu, may just save our planet. Deforestation, loss of biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions are all directly linked to meat production. To secure our planet’s future we should transition to a diet higher in plant-based options. So try it today – get a Greggs vegan sausage roll or start sticking to meatless Mondays. Every little swap is creating habits for a sustainable planet.
Water bottles – everyone loves the back to school shop; new pens, notebooks and highlighters that you promise yourself will make you study more. This year, add a reusable water bottle to your shopping list. Everyday items including plastic water bottles make up 80% of the plastic that gets dumped in our oceans. Stop buying plastic bottles and bring your own water bottle. There are plenty of refillable water stations around campus that make it easier to avoid wasting your money on single-use water bottles – once again saving you money and the environment. And besides, Scottish tap water tastes better than any other water!
Swap out single-use items – the best way to reduce your waste is by looking at what you bin and finding alternatives. Swap your single-use cling film and tin foil for beeswax wraps. Your disposable razors for a reusable safety razor. Opt for reusable cotton pads for make-up removal. Use bars of shampoo, conditioner and soap instead of plastic bottles. If you shop for these carefully, it will also save you money in the long run! Too much plastic ends up in Scottish waters every year – 550 tonnes – this number is only increasing. By reducing how much plastic we use, we’re protecting our oceans and striving for a plastic-free future.
We must take sustainability and making improvements for the planet into our own hands. It is evident that we cannot rely on the government to prioritise our environment. Rishi Sunak postponing net zero goals is not so inspiring when we look at the ticking clock of irreversible climate change. So, start your sustainable habit today. Whether that’s opting for an oat latte, or taking plastics off the food shop list, as students we can ensure our planet’s future for new generations to enjoy.