There is nothing that twenty-somethings love more than a good trend. The latest and greatest topic making its way through the media is climate change, and it’s about time that eco-consciousness left the realm of hipsterdom and into the mainstream. Caring about the planet is for humans, not just hippies. It doesn’t matter what I do, my actions are just a drop in the ocean, you may think. It’s up to big business to make any meaningful change, you might hear.
I won’t use scare tactics or shame you for your contribution to carbon emissions—the wider media has that covered. It’s up to young changemakers to influence our generation to do the right and necessary thing. By now you might have heard of sixteen-year-old Climate activist, Greta Thunberg, so imagine if Instagram influencers could use social media for social change instead of selling out to promote self-interested brands. But if you can’t get on the eco bandwagon for the good of humanity and others, do it for yourself, you selfish millennial.
From student friendly money savers to sustainable beauty hacks, here are some environmentally friendly swaps that have immediate benefits and just as much bragging rights. If you’ve got the pounds to spare, invest in an eco alternative for one of your daily rituals. Not only will you have an air of moral superiority, zero waste products look chic and save you money.
Not only will you have an air of moral superiority, zero waste products look chic and save you money.
Drinking out of paper cups (that can’t even be recycled!) is tragically 2018.
Invest in a KeepCup, the Louboutin of the reusable cup world, which are also the only drink containers permitted in the Bodleian Libraries. As much as it’s fun to watch people wind through the streets of Oxford sipping their morning brew from a regular open top mug, they would benefit from the one-time splurge of a glass KeepCup to gain style points and a spill free commute—without the lid it makes for an entirely plastic-free, everyday drinking glass. Most coffee shops and cafés offer a modest discount for bringing your own cup. At Pret, you’ll save a whole 50p, which is massive savings if you’re a fan of the 99p filter coffee. If you don’t want to carry a cup in your bag all day just in case you want a hot drink, companies like Co-Cup (@cocupuk) are rolling out a Return & Reuse scheme with local cafes—simply ask for your take away coffee in a reusable cup and collect stamps towards a free drink when you return it.
Reconsider your shaving habits.
Kudos to those who skip this part of the average grooming routine, but for the rest of us shaving is a costly part of our beauty budget. Personally, I have tried to save money by opting for the cheap-as-chips Bic disposables at the cost of cut up legs and tossing more plastic into landfills. Meet the safety razor: an old school classic that is truly zero waste with its all metal parts. Instead of replacing the entire head, these razors need only a single blade and cost of a fraction of their disposable counterparts. The initial investment is just under £20 but after that refills are roughly £3-4 for 10 blades. Even better, a sleek silver design makes for a truly gender-neutral product, saving you from choosing between irritating male/female toiletry branding. They are harder to find but the Boots on Cornmarket currently sells them.
Even better, a sleek silver design makes for a truly gender-neutral product, saving you from choosing between irritating male/female toiletry branding.
#TreatYoSelf and buy expensive clothes!
Investing in your threads can spare you from constantly replacing low-quality and ill-fitting pieces, especially if you’ve found a favourite garment that just won’t last daily wear. If you have the budget to bypass fast fashion brands like Primark and H&M, you can use your buying power to support companies that are ethical, use recycled materials, or commit to cleaner and low-waste production methods. Did you know that it can take upwards of 2,000 gallons of water to produce denim? Levi’s sell jeans made of recycled materials and/or were made with less water than normal. By the time you’ve bought that third pair of cheap trousers that don’t fit after the first wash, you could have afforded a pair of jeans that flatter your figure and won’t end up in a landfill if you love wearing them day after day. Better for the planet, better for your bum.
Use your buying power to support companies that are ethical, use recycled materials, or commit to cleaner and low-waste production methods.
While we are talking clothes, I shall provide you with a wholesome excuse for not doing laundry enough. Saving water is the main reason, most of us could do with a better smell test of that t-shirt we wore for a whole three hours and threw into the wash. Second, microplastics are getting into our water supply thanks to the loose fibres coming off synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. It’s bad for fish, which in turn is bad for us. Next time you eat that smoked salmon sandwich, imagine bits of your jumper threads being swallowed too. Besides, it’s a hassle doing laundry in college facilities. Unless your clothes stink enough to offend nearby peers at lectures and the library, re-wear that (insert non-athletic garment here) a few more times…I’m sure it’s fine.
Decorate your room with plants.
Students are at the mercy of temporary accommodation which leaves little room for personalizing our space. Other than the classic collage bulletin board, our rooms look as tired and run down as a finalist. Skip the plastic trinkets from Flying Tiger and pick up a potted plant or two from the Covered Market for cheap, Instagrammable décor that can be tossed in the compost bin at the end of term. Not only will plants help purify your stale bedroom air, it’s said they can provide a creativity and mental health boost too.
Buy groceries from local Oxford markets.
Why get caught in the evening Tesco queues, fighting through the wall of students desperate to get a Meal Deal. Grab that canvas tote from *insert club or society here* and fill it with fresh produce from the Gloucester Green market every Wednesday from 8am to 4pm or visit the butchers and veg stands in the Covered Market. You’ll avoid the single-use plastic wrap that can be found on nearly every grocery store item, all while supporting Oxford’s small business economy. Why wouldn’t you want to look cool as heck for being so alternative and anti-consumerism? Or maybe you just actually care about Earth, that’s cool too.
Image credit: Co-Cup @cocupuk