University changes you in many ways – there’s no denying that. In my three years at Aberystwyth, I’ve discovered so many new things about myself, reaffirmed others, and improved over all as a person (there’s still progress to be made however!).
Perhaps the most important way that I’ve changed, however, is by becoming far more environmentally aware and responsible. Everything I do impacts our world, no matter how big or small, and I’m so grateful for the awareness I now have and continue to learn.
Now, I’m not 100% Eco-Friendly, but I am actively trying my best to become. It wasn’t until coming home to Birmingham this week that I realised just how little awareness there is in other places – I’m lucky, I believe, to live in Aberystwyth. Recycling points are all over the town; bins on the street, bottle banks for glass at the Morlan centre and the Castle. The university itself holds a Plastic-free status and actively works to maintain this, by removing (where possible) single use plastics and replacing them with bio-degradable alternatives. There are dedicated barbecue disposals, frequent beach cleans and much more.
Now, I say Birmingham, but I’m actually North Warwickshire, and as such under North Warwickshire Borough Council. So what does NWBC have? No public recycling bins. No bottle banks. I don’t even agree with the waste collection service they provide – alternate weeks between recycling and non-recyclable goods. Recycling isn’t just a bi-weekly thing – it’s an every day thing. Collecting recyclable goods weekly will encourage more and more people to actually look at what can be recycled (more than you think!) and place them in the appropriate bins – how would this help, you might be thinking. Well, think about it:
Your black bin gets collected every other Monday, a different Monday to the recycling bin. Do you want a full recycling bag to sit around for the week that it wouldn’t be collected? No; you probably wouldn’t. So what would you do? Simple – not recycle it, place it all in the black bins, and allow it to be collected and taken to landfill sites.
But, if your recycling was collected every week – great! You’re disposing of your waste responsibly, frequently, and (when done correctly) decreasing the size of the non-recyclable waste that is still collected bi-weekly.
I’d like to share with you some of the ways that I have become Eco-Friendly, beyond just recycling!
1 – No More Single Use Plastics
These are one of the biggest contributions to plastic pollution in the world. Plastic in landfills, when/if it degrades, can release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere – for example, chlorine – which can then even affect the water we drink. And speaking of water – plastic is literally covering our oceans. It’s killing wildlife, damaging our very delicate eco-system; and it’s got to stop.
So, alternatives! Replace your single use plastic straws with a metal straw you can keep with you in a pocket, bag, on a key chain. Carry around some re-usable cutlery, too, for when you go for a cheeky sea side chippy – popular choices are responsibly sourced Bamboo and, of course, traditional metal. Take your own shopping bags to the supermarket, instead of always buying new ones!
2 – Consume Less Meat
The meat industry plays a big part in contributing to global warming – dairy too. Big up Arla, however, who are actively working on becoming carbon neutral in their dairy farming.
Eating less meat is not only good for the environment, but also for your body. How and what diet you follow is completely up to you – but there’s no denying that meat eaters have higher risks of certain cancers, heart disease, and more. Just one or two days a week without meat regularly will help both you and the environment!
3 – Swap out your products for responsibly sourced, re-usable ones
Example: Bamboo toothbrushes. Fully biodegradable, responsibly sourced. Other such items include packaging free body care – LUSH Cosmetics are fantastic for this, as well as for chemical free products.
4 – Reduce your carbon footprint
Walk where you can! Take public transport, carpool with friends or co-workers. Turn off your electrical items at the plug – this will also save you money, which is a bonus.
If you enjoy sitting by a fire, consider swapping out your traditional wood logs for coffee logs. They burn longer than wood, are carbon neutral, and are made from your recycled coffee grounds. Another alternative is a reusable match stick!
5 – Swap your tea bags
Did you know some tea bags actually contain plastic? This means they don’t fully biodegrade. Swapping out tea bags for loose tea, or certified plastic free tea bags, is a positive and budget friendly way to help the environment!
And speaking of tea – reusable cups! Some chain coffee shops offer a slight discount incentive to encourage you to bring your own take away cup.
So, they were just a few examples of how you can help the environment by becoming Eco-Friendly. Even the smallest amount that you can do helps, and it’s definitely worth it to protect our planet, our future, and our animals.