With the recent Australian bush fires and the Amazon burning last year, there has been an even greater emphasis on sustainable living. There is no doubt that our actions are impacting the planet to a greater extent than some people recognise. However, as students it is harder to live sustainably due to the cost of items and the availability. Some people may say we are making excuses, but a student lifestyle is more sustainable than many adults anyway. For example, most of us walk everywhere, by not using a car we are cutting down on smoke and noise pollution. I personally live in a house of five people; this is far better than 5 people living in separate houses all contributing separate carbon emissions. However, everyone’s lifestyle can be improved in some way to make it more environmentally friendly.
This lifestyle choice has had its ups and its downs. Veganism amounts to is eating a plant-based diet with no animal products in it. One question I had about this was honey, and the answer will depend on whom you are talking too, some vegans eat it as it is a naturally occurring product but only from local hives, some vegans don’t eat it at all. There is a negative image of it and that is because of a few choice individuals who villainise everyone else. However, for students this can be a beneficial lifestyle change. It is cheaper and the meals can be very tasty. I am not suggesting that everyone turn 100% vegan, however. Some people can’t, some people don’t want too. Both of these are fine too. It is your life, and no one should get angry with you for making that choice. When it comes to veganism, maybe try just having one meal a week without meat, then trying to have one without cheese. My advocacy for it is just to cut down on your animal products and maybe eventually have one meal a week with no animal products in.
Cleaning for a sustainable life
This is a slightly trickier one to explain. Some students never clean, in which case ew but also that is slightly beneficial to the planet. However, for those of us that do clean, we don’t realise the impact that the cleaning products have on the planet, bleach is a favourite amongst my house (myself included) but over this Christmas break I started actually looking at it, bleach is harmful to aquatic life and very few bleaches are cruelty free! Not to mention the impact it has on our own health; it can actually poison us. For this reason, I will be trying bleach alternatives this semester. Cleaning wipes are also popular amongst students, however much like face wipes they are not biodegradable, which is quite harmful. There are plenty of sprays which are a better alternative which you can use a reusable cloth with. By changing your cleaning habits just a little bit, they will all contribute to a more sustainable way of living and ultimately won’t be so toxic to you.
Make up and feminine products
I could do a whole article on how students could improve their beauty cabinet. This is the area I focused on most when looking at environmentally friendly options. It struck me as being very arrogant that I was using foundation to cover up my facial imperfections, yet that particular foundation had been tested on animals. The hypocrisy of it is striking. For this reason, I started to only use vegan and cruelty free products. Whilst there has been a bit of trial and error, most of the time I have found this quite easy to do. And honestly, it has not been that expensive either, revolution in superdrug are vegan and cruelty free and are perfect for students due to their low cost. Vegan and cruelty free shampoo and conditioner is also quite easy to find and most of the time it is also in recyclable plastic marking it out as sustainable living.
Feminine products such as pads, and tampons are not sustainable, however in this case I am not advocating everyone switching over to a menstrual cup. Majority of people who do find them much better to use and they even say that it reduces period pain. However, this is a highly personal and private matter. Whilst everyone wants to do their bit, they should never change something at the expense of their health and beliefs.
I saw a quote the other day that I believe is very applicable to being sustainable. We don’t need 10 people being perfect, we need 1000 people trying imperfectly. This is very important as there has been an attitude from some people that you do everything or you’re doing nothing. The climate crisis has reached the point now where everyone should be doing their bit, but this also doesn’t mean going cold turkey on everything. It just means that you need to try and that’s all anyone can ask for.
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