Hi, I am Merrel, an Archaeology student at Leiden University. I write blogs for the university, and my latest blog featured tips on a more sustainable lifestyle. So make sure to check that out if you’re Dutch! (https://www.hetleidskwartiertje.nl/go-green-een-duurzamer-leven-als-student/).
As a student, you may feel like you don’t have the means to make actual change. However, in this short blog, I’d like to show you what I like to do to help mother nature out a bit, without breaking the (already small) bank.
If you are visiting this website, chances are you are already somewhat of an environmental enthousiast. So tips on lowering heating, showering for a shorter time and biking instead of driving are probably all too familiar. So, I wanted to show some habits I’ve picked up to start living a more sustainable lifestyle.
First of all, the no-waste concept. It may seem daunting at first, but you can take small steps by ensuring that the food you buy does not go to waste. I buy my produce from a local fresh market, they don’t pre-pack their fruit and veggies so it’s easier to pick up exactly the amount you need without having to throw some away. For this, I like to use reusable fish-net bags so the produce can be weighed at the check-out without a problem. Then, after I have finished cooking, if I find I have enough left-overs for a second meal I store it in my freezer. All the leftovers of the vegetables and fruit that I do not eat (like the ends of a cucumber) I give to my snails. I am also thinking about starting a small compost bin on my balcony as my neighbourhood does not separate green waste. If the compost then gets developed enough, it is very nutritious as food for you plants!
Another thing I like to do is pick up trash when I am walking. I always carry sanitizer to make sure my hands are clean afterwards, but I also make sure the trash is not too filthy to pick up with bare hands. But picking up some lost food wrappers or plastic bags can do no harm.
A current trend right now are ecoproducts. If you are remotely interested in sustainability, chances are some ads for ecoproducts have run across your social media timelines. While I do support using one product for as long as possible instead of disposable products, I feel that one should keep a critical view towards investing in these products. They are, after all, still a new purchase. Therefore, I like to look for some second-hand alternatives. For example, if you want to swap your disposable plastic lunch bags for a durable container, maybe try looking at a thrift shop instead of online. No new product has to be made, and the mailman does not have to deliver it to you. Plus, shopping in your neighbourhood also keeps your local entrepreneur happy!
The same goes for clothing; I like to shop at vintage stores. It is sustainable, and finding that one unique piece always feels more special than being something completely new for me. I also like to adjust clothing to my style: adding buttons, removing shoulder pads etc. That being said, I do still buy a lot of fast fashion as well. But in order to make more conscious choices about where to shop I check rankabrand.org, to see how sustainable my favorite brands are. The website also shows what their scores are based on (People, Planet and Animals). If the store is not near me and I have to buy the items online, I check my measurements twice and order the item in one size. That way, hopefully, there’ll have to be no returns.
What else is there that you can do? There is tons of inspiration out there. My personal favorite is the book ‘Niets verspillen doe je zo’ by Stéphanie Aurad-Laporte (also available in French), but I’m sure there are similar books on this topic in English. Basically, this book shows you multiple tips on how to make small adjustments in your day-today life in order to live more sustainably. Did you know that baking soda, lemon, vinegar are perfect natural ingredients to make your own cleaning solutions?
I hope this blog inspired you to undertake action towards climate change. Do you have any other tips? Let me know!