Living in London as a student is amazing but can also be challenging at times financially. The challenge can build up even more if you are trying to be more sustainable and eco-friendly! As a student with a small budget and a big passion for environmental issues, I am sharing with you some of the ways I have changed my lifestyle to be more sustainable.
1. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups
The first change I made is perhaps one of the easiest changes that anyone can make today. It is to stop purchasing single-use plastic water bottles and coffee cups. To get yourself a reusable water bottle and coffee cup! Most single-use plastic bottles either end up in landfills, the open ocean, or in the incinerator. We simply cannot recycle most single-use coffee cups, contrary to popular belief. There is simply no reason not to get yourself a reusable bottle/cup since it is both environmentally and economically favourable! Water from a water-fountain is free. And most, if not all, coffee shops now offer discounts to those that bring their own coffee cups.
Nowadays you can find reusable water bottles and coffee cups in almost all coffee shops, grocery stores, and shops at great prices. The materials vary a lot as well from reusable plastics, to glass, bamboo, rice husk, aluminium, and stainless steel. So there is an option for everyone in so many different sizes and shapes. There are also water fountains at all of our university campuses on each floor. The University’s cafes also offer a 20p discount to anyone that brings their own coffee cup. You can even find branded coffee cups and reusable water bottles from our university cafes, so there are no excuses! I also like to collect bottles for free by purchasing bottled water in a glass if I’m ever out without my reusable bottle.
2. Eco-friendly hygiene products
The second change I made towards being more sustainable is to use eco-friendly hygiene products. One of the easiest swaps is to start using bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic ones that can’t be recycled. They don’t vary in price by much but the difference in environmental impact is huge! Other than using a bamboo toothbrush I have started purchasing products that don’t come in any plastic packaging. Instead, I buy these products that come in cardboard, glass, or no packaging at all! This means using a shampoo bar that is not in any plastic container, soap bars not in plastic packaging with ZERO micro-plastic beads (of course), deodorant in a glass or cardboard container, toothpaste that is homemade or in a glass jar, shower towels made form 100% cotton, and using female hygiene products that produce zero waste.
I have also switched to makeup products/brands that are mostly vegan and cruelty-free which come in sustainable packaging. This usually means that the ingredients in the products are better quality and organic. So even better for you as well! Some makeup brands will now let customers return their make containers and refill them for you. This is also another great alternative to packaging that is not recyclable. And for those who like using sparkly eyeshadow or highlighters, I would strongly advise that you check whether the glitter used in those products are biodegradable glitter!
3. Clothes and shoes made from sustainable ingredients
Another change I made was to only purchase clothing and shoes that are made from sustainable ingredients. This means purchasing clothes with zero micro-plastic fibers such as polyester or acrylic in them. This was quite a difficult change for me to make as I really had to prioritize what was more important to me. I am taking baby steps, but steps towards being more sustainable nonetheless. Of course, the most sustainable way to get new clothes would be to only wear second-hand clothes. But let’s be honest, not all charity shops have exactly what we are looking for at all times. So I have started purchasing clothes only made of organic materials such as cotton, wool, bamboo, or silk. There are of course controversies against some of these materials so be sure to check where the materials come from.
Another change towards sustainable fashion is to buy clothes with minimal colors. Clothing dyes for bright colors such as red, pink, green, purple are very harmful to human and animal health in which the waste is normally disposed into local water sources for those living near clothing factories to consume. So although millennial pink (or whichever color) may be in trend, I urge you to take a second to think about what is more important to you. All of these clothing changes are actually more economical as well. Since purchasing clothes made from better organic ingredients will last longer. Having a few white Ts will never go out of fashion compared to purchasing new trendy clothing each year.
There is of course so much more that you can do to live more sustainably. Look out for part 2 of this blog where I will be sharing more ways in which you can make small changes to be more environmentally friendly!
Thanks for reading.
For more blogs from Grace post and other blogs from International Students at Westminster please visit International Student Blogs.