Small Steps for Big Change – 7 Student Tips on Sustainability

I am sure you have all heard how “your actions make difference” in many contexts and situations. But, have you ever thought of the ways your actions can have an impact on the environment?

Yes, I can imagine you have been bombarded with all those videos, posts and warnings mentioning something about straws, plastic bags, printing, etc. How many times have you actually stopped to think about it?

Some of you might be thinking that one person’s behavior won’t change much and that contribution would be insignificant, but – that’s not true. If you really do something good for the environment, you will be setting an example. And, examples are followed.

How can you as a student take small steps that would lead to a big change? Here are 7 suggestions you can use to show your love for this planet.

Buckle up!

1) Reusable mugs and bottles

Although some of you won’t agree but… if there’s one thing that gets students through hectic exam periods – it’s coffee. Every time you buy a takeaway coffee it comes in a cup and with a lid. You will get rid of both of these things once you take the last sip of your caffeine dose. Will you make sure to put them in proper trash cans? Will they finish in the right trash pool for recycling? You can never know. Then, why even buy them in the first place?

Photo by: © Marija Jaćimović

Instead of purchasing (in some cases even paying extra for it) unnecessary piece of pollution, you can get yourself a reusable thermos and just ask your favorite coffee place to pour the coffee in it.

Need extra motivation? Some coffee shops even offer a small discount in case you bring your own mug – how about that?

Same goes for water! Why buy tons of plastic bottles to keep yourself hydrated? You only need to think of how much garbage this creates. Here’s a tip: invest in a water filter pitcher that you will keep at home and fill up your reusable bottle!

2) Those bags!

When going shopping, make it a habit to bring a bag you already have at home, or a backpack even. There is no need to store piles of plastic bags at home that you will end up throwing away – they will outlive you

Keep an extra totes bag folded somewhere around the door so you do not forget it, or pack one in your purse/backpack (they are smaller than your phone when folded, trust me). Even if you do, and you end up needing an extra bag anyway, it’s okay to buy another one. Just please make sure it’s a paper bag – healthier and cheaper!

3) Use paper wisely

In a century where we use online services for practically anything, the use of paper is almost pointless. Applying for colleges, studying at one, paying your bills, topping up your phone, sending messages, signing contracts – do you need more examples? Every time you go to a class, or exam period kicks in, wouldn’t it be easier to just have all the data stored on one device? Use of laptops in university lectures is widely accepted, encouraged and most of the times even compulsory today. Why wouldn’t you use yours for taking notes instead of paper? Easier to edit, access and share with others. 

4) Save electricity

You know how you can come home after a long day, can’t wait to hug your bed, and right after you opened the doors, first thing you see – you left your lights on in the bathroom. Yeah, same.

Take a minute before leaving your place, turn around and check the lights you’re leaving behind. If you are not using your computer, turn it off, take the plug out when going to sleep. Same goes for your phone.

Use energy-efficient light bulbs, they save power, and will end up saving a few banknotes when paying bills!

5) Don’t throw away clothes

What did you do with those jeans that got ripped? Or t-shirts you don’t like anymore? Ripped sheets?  Don’t throw them away, please! Try to find ways to reuse all of the

 objects you own, be creative! There are many ways you can do this, and if you need some inspiration, just click here or here .

Photo by: © Marija Jaćimović

If you don’t feel particularly crafty, no problem, you can always donate.  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, right?

Or, you can always cut it in pieces and use the cloth for cleaning (no need to buy mops = saving those $$$). 

If you are not incentivized enough, here’s another tip: If you pack up your old clothes, sheets, fabrics, then bring the bags to the H&M store – you’ll receive a small thank-you-treat voucher for shopping for every bag you give.

Photo by: © Marija Jaćimović

This way you’ll be sure it will be sent to appropriate destination, ending up reused or recycled, plus get rewarded for it. For more information on this, you can check  H&M’s website.

6) Save water

Imagine yourself teaching a kid how to wash teeth. Would you recommend letting the water run while you brush, because, well, you need to be detailed in brushing and that takes time, doesn’t it? If you think that’s nothing, try putting a bowl in your bathroom sink and let it fill with water that you let run while brushing/washing face/shaving etc and see how full is it after and what you could’ve done with that water.

Same goes for rinsing dishes before putting them into a dishwasher. It’s wiser to invest in good detergent than spend money for one, plus increase your water bills unnecessarily.

7) Cosmetics

All those shampoos, soaps, hair conditioners you are using are always leaving a package behind. A plastic one. You can easily avoid this with a 2 in 1 benefit – save environment + save money (and who doesn’t want to save money?).

There are so many  brands (e.g. Lush) that offer solutions that include different form and sustainable packaging. Instead of liquid, you can buy yourself a solid shampoo bar that comes wrapped in paper (and, is organic as well). Same goes for hair masks and conditioners. Now, I know these might seem expensive at first, but, just think about it. The average price of a shampoo bar is  10-15€, but it can last for up to a couple of  months! Plus, it’s airport friendly, which means you won’t have to worry whether you  can bring your hair care products with you on the flight anymore. If this sounds like a good deal to you, just check your local cosmetics shop, or run to the closest  DM shop.

These are just very few examples of what we can do to contribute to our planet’s health. There’s so much more we’re able to do, most of the times, right in front of our noses, but we need a finger to point us to it.

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1 comment

Aleksandra 2019-08-01 at 11:17

I would like to add other tips for sustainability – instead of body lotions, use cocoa butter, its great for the skin, available at stores and it usually comes in a glass jar.
So, oils for cleaning your skin from makeup, bamboo toothbrush instead of a regular one, soaps instead of shower gels, and homemade deep conditioners instead of storebought (they usually come in plastic, whereas if you use argan oil or coconut oil for your hair you can found them in glass jars.
You give your skin natural products and use less plastic 🙂


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