Life at university is a constant whirlwind of socialising, studying, and societies, making it very tricky to focus on sustainability and the environment. Students typically opt for the quickest, easiest options when caught in the daily routine of university.
I must admit I have definitely lost my grip since moving out from home. However, this lockdown period is the perfect time to think about making even the smallest change to your lifestyle.
As many coffee shops remain open during this lockdown for takeaway, it is the perfect opportunity to escape the confines of your home. However, a simple way to help reduce waste is to bring your own reusable flask. Most coffee shops do still accept them, with a few exceptions. By providing your own reusable flask it helps reduce waste excessively – one single-use coffee cup can take over 30 years to decompose, clogging up landfills.
Ordering clothes is definitely appealing, especially during a lockdown when you have spare time to endlessly scroll through ASOS, ‘accidentally’ ordering an entire new wardrobe in your boredom. Yet, when it comes to fast fashion, the impact on the environment is immense. Firstly, the packaging is most often plastic which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. The environmental cost is immense: factories dump poisonous wastewater into rivers, and pump out millions of tons of greenhouse gases, due to the clothes being produced in countries with few laws surrounding the environment.
The fast fashion industry also uses 8,000 different synthetic chemicals within the wastewater that is carelessly disposed of in rivers. A simple solution to avoid or minimise spending in this industry is through the usage of charity shops, or purchasing from second-hand apps such as Depop.
The idea of purchasing second-hand can be daunting but the finds in charity shops can be cheap, and the experience exciting. There are many online charity websites such as Goodfair that you can purchase second-hand bundles from if you fancy a surprise during lockdown. There are also many sustainable clothing brands such as Levi’s, and the H&M Conscious range, which aim to reduce water waste, CO2 emissions, and harmful chemicals when producing their products.
A final venture that you could embark on within lockdown is experimenting with vegan and vegetarian dishes to reduce meat consumption. The meat industry was discovered to produce 15-24% of current greenhouse gases due to deforestation required for animal grazing and the processes using in underdeveloped countries to make the animals live longer. One kilogram of beef requires 14.8 kilograms of CO2, and that is within the feedlot system, one of the most efficient meat production processes in the world. Therefore, even having one vegetarian day a week can greatly impact the CO2 emissions produced. Some tasty recipes to test out can be found on BBC Good Food, Jamie Oliver’s website, and Olive magazine. It could be a fun way to explore the realm of vegan and vegetarian food, while also assisting the environment.
Even small changes such as these can have a significant long term impact on the environment, and with the UK in lockdown, this can be a good time to explore areas of change within our daily habits.