Our consumption patterns today are skyrocketing. We want more, need more, buy more, use more and throw more. Advertisements and sales drive us to buy more things that we don’t need and have ways of telling us that the only way to happiness and success is through buying and using more products. Our economy is based on this massive appetite we have for consumption.
While I spent the last one year travelling and figuring out ways to cut down the waste I was producing it led me to start thinking about how I would do that as a student. Being a student is often associated with a cash crunch and at the same time splurging on the most random things when there is a little money to spend. Being a student also means going out every weekend and this means we need lots and lots of clothes! The rapidly growing fast fashion industry caters to exactly this – cheap clothing that looks good and can be tossed after a wear or two.
How could I reduce my impact on the environment while being a student? I thought about this for months before coming to Australia and the answer for me was simple – Live with less.
It’s been a little over 2 months since I started living the “student life” and this is how I’ve managed to cut down on my trash –
- It’s okay to wear the same clothes multiple times!
I came here with about a tenth of my closet and have had absolutely no problems living with less clothes. In fact it’s made it easier for me to choose what to wear every day. I don’t waste time standing in front of my cupboard for hours deciding what to wear. I have bought one shirt since I’ve been here but my latest challenge is not to buy a single piece of clothing for the next one year.
- Coffee/Tea addictions
With essays and assignments due almost every single day, students run on coffees and teas and its not just students – Australians LOVE their early morning (or really, any time of the day) coffee fix. I see people running to class every morning with disposable coffee cups in their hands and it breaks my heart. What makes my day is seeing people with their keep-cups. There are a few cafes which offer discounts if you bring in your cups but I just feel like these aren’t that well advertised. My trusty glass jar has been by my side through the hundreds of hours spent studying in classes and at home!
This has possibly been the most difficult part. EVERYTHING in supermarkets is packaged. For a snacker like me, it’s so hard to go into stores and wonder around for what seems like hours just trying to find a snack that isn’t packaged! The small bag of plastics that I’ve collected so far in my two months is mostly full of snack wrappers and a few ice cream wrappers. Not being able to buy most of the goodies does definitely help keep the weight in check though! 😉
Since all my meals are covered under my accommodation plan I’d definitely say it is easier for me to cut down on waste as compared to the average student but despite that I see that all the dustbins in the common areas are FULL to the brim on a daily basis. Attempts to make people recycle their papers and cardboards have unfortunately gone unheard in the house(except for a few people yay!), and what’s even more disheartening is to see the wet and dry waste being mixed into ONE dustbin (This is apparently due to the waste management rules of the area)!! Thankfully the community garden is right behind my house and there’s space and resources to compost there so I get to take my fruit peels and left over food there once a day.
There are so many different ways to avoid trash and just that thought gets me feeling excited every morning when I wake up! There are heaps of alternatives available here (way more than we have back home in India). This journey is definitely going to be an exciting one!
More tips for zero waste student living in my next blog! 🙂
Watch a video on the bin chicken! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=91&v=w4dYWhkSbTU