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Student Hack: More Money & Less Plastic

Plastic bottles, Photocredit: mjmonty (Flickr)

Want to double down and score some economic AND environmental points? Believe it or not, it’s actually not that hard. Reducing your plastic waste can actually benefit you economically, which let’s face it, is something all students should care about – oh that and the planet.

As we all should be aware of by now, plastic is not that great for the environment – in fact, it’s pretty bad. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats we are currently facing today. Why is plastic not so fantastic? Here are a few facts to think about:

  • Every year 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean
  • Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled
  • Plastic is extremely durable and will never fully disappear, just get smaller and smaller. It is often swallowed by animals – which eventually ends up on our dinner plate. Full (plastic) cycle.
  • At this rate, the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by 2050

According to UN Environment  “half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away”. We have become accustomed to a single-use mentality in our daily lives, which not only affects the environment but also our personal economy. So it might be time to do something about it, right?

Check out The Circular’s basic tips below on how to reduce your own plastic waste and at the same time save some money (PS: it’s all about re-using) :

Reusable water bottles

Stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle that you can refill with tap-water. Save both money and plastic by not buying single-use plastic water bottles. Check out these sleek glass bottles by Retap.

Reusable cups for coffee/ tea

Getting caffeinated with a good conscience is what it’s all about. Same thing here, stop wasting money and plastic by switching out disposable coffee cups with a reusable one. Make coffee or tea at home before leaving to save money, and take advantage of the cheaper deals some cafes offer to customers that bring their own cup. Frank Green, for instance, has spillproof cups that you can safely keep in your (tote)bag.

Tote bags

Did you know that up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year? Well, now you do. Get yourself a tote bag to bring with you when you’re out shopping so you can say no to a plastic bag at the till, and even if it’s just a few cents for a plastic bag it’s also money saved. You’ll find a wide variety of different styles and designs when it comes to tote bags, they are definitely an accessory to your outfit. Buying a custom tote bag is also a good way to support a local shop, take a look at these tote bags from The Library Project in Dublin for instance.

Soap, shampoo and conditioner bars

It is easy to forget that even the most essential daily products contain plastic, even if it has nothing to do with the product itself. The packaging of most soaps, shampoos, and conditioners are made of plastic and because these are all products we have to repurchase, single-use plastic waste strikes again.

Soap bars are a good alternative to liquid soap, just make sure to get one that is packaged in paper. They are also much cheaper than the liquid soap bottles and last longer.

You can also find shampoo and conditioner bars, that works just as well as the ‘regular’ cleansers – except they last longer, are easier to travel with and come in tin-packaging that can be re-used. Check out these by Lush.

Bring your own lunch in a lunchbox

Save money by making your own lunch to bring to college in a reusable lunchbox. Most takeaway options from supermarkets or cafes, like sandwiches and snacks, come wrapped in plastic. Tip: Get a lunchbox made of tin to avoid plastic 100% – those BPA’s don’t taste good. You can find several lunchbox options at The Little Green Shop.

Purchase food in bulk and store in reusable containers

There’s no secret that shopping in bulk saves you money, but by purchasing larger quantities of ingredients and storing food items like rice and pasta (hello students) in reusable containers you also won’t waste as much plastic, as that is what most food items are packaged in. Also, food containers can add a sense of style to the kitchen counter. Hot tip: Søstrene Grene has many affordable, but modern, options when it comes to containers.

These are all simple and basic ways to reduce plastic waste in your everyday life, which will also cost you a lot less money in the long run. There are several other ways you can start your journey to become plastic-free, but this is definitely a good start – and you’ve got to start somewhere.

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