Let’s make David proud.
On Friday (20th September 2019), there was the #GlobalClimateStrike, where children, students and adults took to the streets to peacefully protest the lack of urgency about the Climate Crisis.
There are many things you can do to be an eco warrior, to help reduce your plastic consumption and make David Attenborough proud of you.
So settle in kids - I've got a load of ideas to help you on your way to being a sustainable student.
DID YOU KNOW? Plastic was invented in 1907 and every single piece of plastic ever made is still on the earth!
A Reusable Water Bottle
It’s one of the easiest swaps you can do, buying a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones. Did you know that every 60 seconds, 1 million single-use plastic bottles are bought around the world! On average people buy 156 bottles of water a year - so if you think that you and your reusable water bottle won’t make a difference - think again.
Ditch the plastic water bottle* and pick up one that you can use again and again.
*Disclaimer: Please do not injure yourself attempting to drop kick your plastic water bottle into the bin.
Reusable Coffee Mug
If you, like me, find that you’re unable to function in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) without at least a little bit of caffeine, then this would be the perfect swap for you. Although coffee cups are made out of paper and cardboard, they are coated in plastic, so they are leak proof. By using your own mug (be it plastic, glass, metal or bamboo), you are saving landfills from being filled with empty coffee cups - and to sweeten the deal, you usually get a discount for bringing your own cup. What’s not to love?
Say No to Straws
This is probably one you’ve heard of a lot - saying no to straws, and it can take a little time for this to become a habit.
Most drinks that come with a straw, don’t need one, but that doesn’t mean all drinks don’t need a straw. You can use alternatives, like a steel one, a silicone one, bamboo or even glass. It’s a small swap that is inexpensive and easy to keep in your bag - just remember to clean it!
Eat Less Meat
Carnivores, brace yourself. Eating meat is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation (due to land for farming) and also methane gas (you know what I’m talking about). By choosing to go meat free just one day a week has a huge reduction on your carbon footprint. Also, meat can be expensive, so save your pennies too by trying one of two meat free days a week.
Picture this: you're doing a long sesh in the library, and you need to stretch your legs. You head to the closest shop and browse the aisles, and you spot exactly what you didn’t know you’d been craving. A yoghurt. Yes, that’s exactly what you wanted. You make your purchase and head back to the library to slog on. You open your yoghurt and… you don’t have a spoon. You could fashion one out of the foil lid, of manage with a coffee stirrer, but it just doesn’t seem worth it. Your yoghurt sits there, congealing, unloved, unwanted.
This may seem over the top - but since carrying my own cutlery, I’m surprised at just how much I use them. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy - just a spare set from your drawer in the kitchen. This way, you won’t need to use plastic, disposable cutlery when you buy food on the go (it’s Uni, you will buy cheap food at every opportunity).
Tote this around
A tote bag will be your best friend, especially if you refuse to pay 5p for a plastic bag (which will increase to 10p fairly soon). Pop it in the bottom of your bag, and you won’t need to make the journey home from the supermarket with armfuls of food.
*Disclaimer: Yes, we have special tote bags too
Portsmouth is great, because you can get most places within a 20 minute walk. Leave the car at home and think about getting the free Uni bus into town, cycling or walking. The city is particularly bike and pedestrian friendly, so you’ll have no issues getting around. For getting further afield, there are three train stations - Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth and Southsea and Fratton - that will take you off the island and allow you to explore a bit more. Getting to London is extremely easy, and for an even cheaper option, you could get a coach. There is no reason not to take advantage of the public transport to get around the city - but walking and cycling is even better (read: exercise).
Buy Fruit and Veg Without Plastic
You’re on a budget, I get it, and when you’re shopping, the cheapest option is the one you’re going to go for, but - even though it may be cheaper to buy three onions in a plastic net, if you don’t need three onions, buy a single, loose onion instead. This helps reduce you single use plastics and food waste, which is a huge problem in the UK. Be a savvy shopper and look around for the best price, or head to a greengrocers or farmers market instead.
The 7 Rs
You probably remember the three Rs from school - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But what about the others? Repurpose, Refuse, Rot and Repair.
Recycling is the easiest way to reduce your landfill contribution, but think before you throw - what else can you do with the item before it ends up in the bin, recycling or not?
If it's broken, can it be fixed? Is there a local Repair Cafe you could take it to?
Do you need that freebie?
Can it be used for something else?
Can it be donated? Even if it's just for Rag?
One of the main monsters is plastic - lots of plastic that still isn’t recyclable. So instead think about building eco bricks! Eco Bricks are plastic bottles which are filled with non-recyclable plastic. They are stuffed until the are solid and durable, then used to make houses - neat, huh?
Portsmouth is also launching food waste collections on some roads, so check if your road is being included. If not, think about starting a compost in your kitchen or garden.
The backbones of our highstreet - head there instead of fast fashion outlets when looking for new items to wear on a night out, or even to spruce up your wardrobe. You can find some absolute gems if you have the patience to look - some things never even worn, and some nice brands too. Don’t write of charity shops as somewhere your nan picks up tat, but give them a chance. A great social is to set a budget and find the best outfit from charity shops around the city - plus the money goes to a good cause, so it’s a win-win!
Something Fishy this way comes
Have you seen Nellie the Fish outside the Union?
Nelson, or Nellie, is an art installation from the 'Final Straw' initiative, and is used to collect plastic and aluminium cans.
Nellie was designed and made by Sailboat Trailers, a business local to our base in Emsworth who make bespoke boat trailers. We gave them a rough brief and idea of the kind of thing we wanted, and how we wanted to use it in terms of travelling around the area. They used an old trailer as the base and the rest was built freehand using materials from their yard including old chicken wire, wheel arches and old wheels for the eyes. The fish was funded by the High Street Community Clean-Up Fund by Portsmouth City Council and also by the FatFace Foundation - FatFace donated some old warehouse cages that were also used in making the fish. She has been very well engineered to make it really easy to move her around just with a trailer, which is great.
We were inspired to make Nellie when we saw something similar on social media, 'Goby', that was over in Bali. We decided we wanted to make something similar, but that rather than keeping it in one place we wanted to be able to move it around to different sites along the Solent and for different events. It supports our outreach programme that aims to highlight the impact of plastic pollution on our environment, local seas and wider oceans.
It’s a symbolic piece that highlights how many of these disposable items we use and the huge volume of waste we create, and demonstrating how plastic invades are oceans and how we should be recycling as much as possible to combat this.
We hope that Nellie might make students think twice about the amount of disposable plastic they may use, particularly single-use plastic bottles. In the UK alone we use up to 13 billion single-use plastic bottles a year, and only just over half are recycled. That is a huge amount, and can contribute massively to litter and waste generally. We always find lots of plastic bottles on beach and park cleans. We hope that students might commit to buying a decent reusable bottle that will last for years, that they can refill at one of the many Refill points around Portsmouth these days.
So fill Nellie up with, but only with plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and keep an eye out as she moves around campus. But just one note - please don't ride the fish!
These are just some small changes you can make that can make a big difference, to help you become a more sustainable student!
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