You’ve probably seen a spike in the amount of climate change and plastic pollution posts covered on social media recently. It’s definitely a hot topic.
While these posts share with us the problems facing Earth and its oceans they don’t necessarily teach us how we can help combat these issues, so here are a few simple ways you can help. Don’t worry you don’t have to throw out every plastic product you own- in fact that’s not a very good idea…
Let’s talk about plastic:
Most scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year.
If you live in the UK you’ll be aware that in October 2015 the UK government introduced a 5p charge on all plastic carrier bags. Even though this has undoubtedly reduced the amount of plastic carrier bags circulating the UK, it’s still estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags will be consumed worldwide in 2019. Let’s not forget about the carrier bag found at the bottom of The Mariana Trench…
So how can you help?
- Let’s face it, the carrier bags we already have aren’t just going to disappear but there are a few things we can do to ensure they don’t end up in landfill. Don’t throw out the plastic bags you already have. Reuse them or fill them with items you’re going to donate- that way charity shops can use the carrier bags for their customers.
- Bring your own reusable tote bag/foldable shopper with you when you shop. They’re super convenient and much more eco-friendly then plastic bags. Plus, you’ll save money in the long run (the 5p charge will add up over time). This is the perfect option if you’re on a student budget!
- Purchase a set of stainless steel straws and refuse plastic straws in restaurants and cafés. In April 2020 a ban on plastic straws will be put into place in the UK- you’ll still be able to ask for a plastic straw but if you’re not in need of one don’t ask for one.
- A set of reusable cutlery is a good idea too, especially if you eat on the go a lot.
- Though Tesco Meal deals can be very tempting to students (I’m a sucker for them, believe me) they’re not ideal for the environment. This goes for any type of quick and easy lunchtime snack/meal, so instead make your own! You’ll find that in doing this, not only are you saving money in the long run, but you’re also reducing the amount of one use plastics you consume. Make sure to put your lunch in a reusable lunch box rather than a plastic sandwich bag.
- Stainless steel flasks are a fantastic purchase. Some are expensive (these are usually adorned with funky patterns) and some are cheap (the plain and simple option) but both have the ability to keep a drink either hot or cold! Fill it with your choice of drink and bring it with you to your lectures. You can refill it at a water fountain or nip into a cafe and ask them to put your hot drink in your fancy flask- you might even get a discount!
Other ways to help the environment:
To heal ourselves we must heal our planet, and to heal our planet we must heal ourselves – Bobby McLeod (Aboriginal Activist and poet)
Plastic isn’t the only problem. There are many other factors that contribute to climate change, including your carbon footprint and deforestation. Here are some ways you, as a student, can help tackle these issues:
- Use less paper and recycle. A lot of work can be completed online nowadays- ask your lecturers to put work online instead of printing off hand outs and find your accommodations’ recycling bin (and put it to good use).
- Borrow books or read online. Books are made of paper and the production of paper contributes massively to deforestation, so buy less new books. Buy books from charity shops, borrow from friends or the library, or even purchase a kindle and read books online instead. Charity shops books are fantastic because they’re often super cheap and are guilt free buys as the money you spend goes to a good cause.
- Buy local. Find your local market and buy fresh fruit and veg from there, instead of a supermarket. You’ll probably find that the produce doesn’t come wrapped in plastic, like it does in supermarkets, and is a lot cheaper to buy. Reduce the amount of things you buy online as well. By doing this you’ll reduce your air miles significantly (these contribute to your carbon footprint). Try finding these items locally instead and support small businesses.
- Use those legs. If you’re able to walk to uni, do it! Most university accommodation is located very close to campus so there’s no need to use a car or get a taxi. If your accommodation is a bit further out opt for a bicycle or take the bus.
Doing your bit is easier than you think.
Caring for the planet is a process. You’re not going to solve the issue straight away, but if enough people start to take action good things are sure to follow.
I hope this post has opened your eyes to a few easy ways you can help tackle the issues of climate change and plastic pollution. By being more planet conscious you can make a big difference.
~ Chelsea Leigh (@studiousleigh)
This post is NOT sponsored.
All opinions expressed in this post are my own.
None of the links in this post are affiliated links.
All photos used in this post were taken by myself and are used for reference purposes only.