How to be an environmentally responsible student

Every day more and more people are making the conscious decision to live their lives with less waste. There has been a recent surge in documentaries, studies and television series such as the ABC’s ‘War on Waste’ that highlight the devastating effects of single-use plastics on both on our land and in our oceans.

Some of the key facts about Australia’s waste problem from War on Waste include:

  • The county’s waste is growing at double the rate of the population with 52 megatonnes of waste generated each year.
  • Australia is ranked fifth highest in the world for generating the most municipal waste.
  • Australian households throw out an average of 345 kilograms of food and we discard up to 20 percent of our purchased food every single week.
  • The majority of coffee cups are not recyclable due to their insulation components.
  • Collectively we throw out six tonnes of clothing every 10 minutes – just let that sink in.
  • While plastic bags (and other soft plastics) can be returned to your supermarket for recycling, according to Clean Up Australia, approximately only 3% of those soft plastics are being recycled.

So, in the spirit of #PlasticFreeJuly, I wanted to share some simple tips to help you change your life and help to create a sustainable and vibrant future for our environment, our marine life, our country and our planet. Trust me, it’s easier than you think!

Plan your meals

Each week take half an hour to plan your weekly meals and snacks. Then, when you’re doing your groceries, make sure you stick to your plan and only buy what you need. If you are left with extra food, don’t throw it out, just find alternative recipes to use it in. For vegetable and fruit peels start a compost bin in your backyard. It is so simple to do and you will be having an incredibly positive impact on the environment. Unfortunately, food thrown into landfill doesn’t decompose for decades and can produce harmful emissions.

Shop local and packaging-free

Start sourcing your fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market – this way you reduce unnecessary plastic, help combat food waste, are getting fresh produce and are likely to save some money.

For your other pantry staples, check out your closest bulk food store such as The Source or Naked Foods. You can take your own glass jars to fill full of grains, flours, rice, chips, chocolate, cereal and more. Plus, you choose how much you want to buy and therefore, you have more control of the price too.

Find alternatives

The single largest way to make a positive impact on the environment is to find alternatives to items that you use in everyday life. Below you will find a list of simple alternatives you can try.

  1. Plastic Toothbrush = Bamboo Toothbrush (can be composted).
  2. Takeaway Coffee = Reusable Coffee Cup (such as a Keep Cup).
  3. Plastic Cutlery/straws/chopsticks/napkins = Reusable kit of essentials kept in your bag.
  4. Disposable women’s sanitary items = Cloth pads, or the Diva Cup.
  5. Plastic wrap = Reusable Wax Wraps.
  6. Shopping bags/ plastic produce bags = Reusable bags and mesh produce bags.
  7. Plastic bottles (water, Coke etc.) = Glass bottles and reusable drink bottles.
  8. Take away containers = Take your own container and ask if the restaurant will fill it for you.
  9. Beauty/ hygiene products = Try environmentally friendly brands such as Sukin or Lush’s no packaging ‘bars’ of shampoo, conditioner, facewash and moisturiser. Or you can even try DIY.
  10. Lastly, instead of throwing out broken objects, clothes and appliances – have a go at fixing them!

To find out more about Australia’s environmental impact watch ABC’s War on Waste on iView here.

Learn more about the best products to recycle here.

I hope you enjoyed this list and look forward to seeing some of these changes around campus. Most importantly, you’re not a “hippy” for caring about the environment. Many of us are going to live on this earth for at least another 50 years – so we should probably start taking care of it.

Do you have any more tips about living an environmentally sustainable life? Let us know in the comments below!

– Hayley


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