The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I am someone who chooses to incorporate sustainability as much as possible into my lifestyle, but it is hard, especially as a student. A lot of sustainable habits cost money and time, and both can be hard to find. Hence, I am writing this article to hopefully inspire you to make a few changes or add a couple of new habits into your routine. I challenge you to try and do five of these over Easter and by the end of it try to aim to continue these switches.
Sustainable Fashion Habits
This is one of the key areas in which being sustainable can be difficult. In Exeter we have a plethora of fast-fashion high street stores which often have sales or cheap clothing making the temptation to shop much stronger. I suggest you try and fight this urge as much as possible. You can avoid this by giving yourself a few days to a week/month to think about a certain item and if you will wear it. If you are still thinking about it at the end of this time purchase it if you forget about it, you don’t need it. I always try and think ‘would I wear this next year?’ if not there is no point getting it.
We have a few sustainable shops in Exeter such as Finisterre and Sancho’s (however it is closing soon but if you have time go and check out their sale), there are vintage shops such as The Real McCoy and of course many charity shops. They range in price however I always checking out the cheeky sale sections. If you are looking for jewellery, I recommend looking for companies that use recycled metals or sustainable materials. My favourite brand is Zena.
If you are looking to shop online Vinted is one of the best places because you can make offers and can often find things from £3! I have bought quite a few items from here as well as selling some of my own. However, some other online sustainable clothing companies I like are Nobody’s Child, Lucy and Yak, Tom’s Trunks, and Peachy Den. There are so many great sustainable clothing companies out there for all different styles and budgets so I recommend having a search in your free time and maybe you will treat yourself to something fun.
Keep Up with Recycling
This is a very easy task. I hope that you regularly recycle anyways but if you don’t or don’t consistently do so this is your sign. Perhaps you could begin composting to recycle food waste. In addition, you could try and research what other items you can recycle that you don’t already, maybe batteries. Recycling is one of the easiest ways to have a positive impact on the earth and one of the most accessible. It is also free!
Sustainable Food Shopping
Food shopping is something which is difficult for everyone right now due to prices being so incredibly high. The easiest way be more sustainable when shopping is through buying loose fruit and vegetables. It is often cheaper or a similar price to buying fruit and veggies in packets. This also makes for less food waste as you can just buy the amount you will use. It is even better for the planet if these products are locally grown from a greengrocer and/or are organic. If you do end up buying fruit and vegetables in packets, see if you can recycle the packaging at home or in-store recycling bins. If you eat meat maybe you could try getting you meat from a local butcher who often use less packaging and usually the meat doesn’t have to be transported from very far away.
If your diet can be adapted, you might want to try a flexitarian diet in which you try and have more plant-based meals in a week to reduce your carbon footprint if you are not already vegetarian or vegan. I will personally be doing more of this.
Bring your own bags! You can reuse old plastic ones and most supermarkets let you swap them for free if you bring in a broken one. It is even better if you can bring reusable fabric ones. These are usually quite cheap in supermarkets, or you can find other types online and in other shops. I personally like the ones that can be packed into a small pouch as it is easy to carry a few of these in the bottom of my tote bag or uni bag so I am always prepared.
If you want to be even fancier, you could try shopping at zero waste shops. I find these best for items such as pasta and pulses as well as cleaning products and toiletries. If you have one locally, I recommend giving this a go at least once for one item and you might find yourself going back for more items. You can fill up any container this could be a yogurt pot to a glass jar it doesn’t matter because whatever it is it is being reused!
Use Public Transport, Walk or Cycle
This is a message you have probably heard many times. It might be annoying, but it is true. The nice thing about Exeter is that it is very commutable by foot. I personally walk EVERYWHERE. My calves are as strong as steel because of the hills. If I want to explore other places, such as the beach on weekends for a swim, I always get the train. I personally dislike the bus system in Exeter as I find it unreliable and just confusing but if there is a stop near you it might be something for you to consider using.
Cycling is also a popular method of transport. If you have a bike with you in Exeter and don’t really use it much perhaps think about ways you can incorporate it into your commutes. If you don’t have one here and think this might be something, you want to try you could trial it using the bikes scattered around the city and campus which you can pay a small fee to use.
I personally know I will being driving quite a lot at home. Where I live there are not many public transport options. Where possible I will walk but when I do need to drive and other friends or family are going to the same place of somewhere on the way I will offer lifts to make the journey eco-friendlier, perhaps you could do the same.
This is something I personally want to explore more. I enjoy crocheting so I will investigate investing in more eco-friendly wool such as wool made from recycled materials.
In addition, I am a reader and this past summer I made the switch from using an ancient Kindle 50% of the time and the other 50% reading paper books to buying a new Kindle. My old one died, and it was never mine it was my dad’s 1st edition one. Since buying it I have adored using it. I find it just as enjoyable reading on my Kindle as I do actual books. It is also a lot better for my bank account as books on the Kindle are often under £5. I will only ever buy a paper book now if it is cheaper than the Kindle version.
I also mentioned I enjoy swimming in the sea on a Sunday and I travel there via public transport, i.e., the train, to reduce my carbon footprint. Sometimes there are beach clean-ups at the same time, and I would like to participate in more of these to have a more positive impact on preserving our beautiful ocean.
Easter is a very busy time for birthdays in my family because me, my sister and dad all have birthdays in Spring. The ways I will try and make these gifts more sustainable is shopping in person. Shopping in person from local businesses is more environmentally friendly because it isn’t being delivered in a van at your doorstep. It is even better if you can walk to these shops.
Another thing I will do is use biodegradable wrapping paper, gift bags, an old newspaper or fabric gift wrapping to wrap my presents. These are easy changes to make and if your family is anything like mine, we have so many gift bags which we use year after year after year. In addition, if you are using paper wrapping paper try and recycle where possible.
I recommend buying gifts from sustainable brands or companies. Some specifics local to Exeter are: Two Drifters, Salcombe Gin, Bird and Blend, and The Recycled Candle Company. Another great gift idea is taking someone to an event or experience locally.
If you want to be better informed on sustainability it is easy to get involved online because there are so many great accounts, you can follow on social media to become more aware and educated. You can even share these posts to spread awareness if you feel comfortable doing so. My favourite account is @surfersagainstsewage.
Use your Vote
Another easy way to actively get involved is through politics. This could be voting during the Guild Election at University for someone who focuses on the environmental impact the university has. Or even better is having the environment in mind when deciding who to vote for in local and general elections. I am not telling you who to vote for whatsoever or what issues should matter to you but if you are concerned about the future of the planet it should be a topic to think about.
If you aren’t already registered, please register to vote here!
This is my final switch you can make. Some many social activities can be made environmentally friendly. If you enjoy having a coffee with friends either have it in the café in a mug or bring your own reusable bottle or flask. If you like having dinner with friends, try eating out or cooking together rather than takeaways and perhaps walk there or take public transport (this way you can have a few tipples too). If you just like chatting go on a nice walk, the Quay is perfect for this in Exeter.
There are so many great ways you can have an amazing social life whilst having a positive impact on our planet. Here is a long list of ideas you can perhaps make use of over Easter.
I hope this has inspired you to partake in my challenge of trying five of these over Easter. A lot of them are very easy to do or might be things you already do. I would love to see or hear from people via our Instagram if any of you do any of these things!