Uni Student Goes Sustainable

Well, Greta arrived in New York via sailboat. Scientists are on Arctic research expeditions, also in zero-emissions wooden sail boats. The Arctic. Some humans are living completely plastic-free.

I suppose I can change a few things too…

Cue Simple Life Changes

While I have no occasion for sailboats (yet), I am a full-time uni student. I live more than 1000km from my family, I use toilet paper, and I like to clean my teeth. Are these things barriers to a sustainable lifestyle? I’m finding out.

Starting with plastic.

Rubbish collected from five minutes on the beach.
A trip to tiny Gordon’s Bay yielded this discovery. It seems rubbish washes into shore on the currents.

Plastic-free: 10 Steps

OK, it’s everywhere. A person can’t get a protein bar without landfill anxiety. So… I’m not buying protein bars anymore..

Our major grocery stores operate on a preposterous packaging system. That is, they use plastic. I have a choice whether to support this or not.

  1. Supermarket choice: I no longer shop at Coles. Seriously? Plastic miniature collectibles? Woolworths wins hands down with compostable seedling kits.
  2. Soft plastics: Apparently, Woolies is reforming its soft plastics recycling system – along with its overall plastic use – since it copped some flack from War on Waste.
    I drop soft plastics at the REDcycle bins outside Woolies.
  3. What is recyclable? Sydney’s online recycling guide Garbage Guru tells me cans, jars, and yoghurt tubs are home-recycling bin-able. Most chip packets, chocolate wrappers, and protein bar wrappers are for landfill only.
    My Woolies shopping list: Coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut yoghurt, Lindt dark chocolate (recyclable packet!), unpackaged fruit.
  4. Bulk food stores supply more than you’d expect. I buy grains, legumes, oats, cereal, nut butter, honey, shampoo and conditioner, soap, cleaning products, laundry liquid, toothbrushes, etc. I bring my own jars and containers.
  5. I buy bread from a bakery, and bring my own bag.
  6. Teeth: Bamboo toothbrushes. I buy them from my bulk food co-op, and you can find them online. Like this biodegradable dental floss.
    Terracycle
    recycles toothpaste tubes, and they have drop-off points around Australia.
  7. Terracycle also recycles things like pens. I take my empty pens to the drop-off point near me.
  8. Toilet paper: Our toilets have not escaped scrutiny! Even the recycled toilet paper in Woolworths is wrapped in plastic, so I order my toilet paper online from Pure Planet. Who Gives a Crap is another great Australian provider.
  9. Hair ties: I treat mine with respect. I have found no cheap alternative.
  10. The obvious, and the Instagrammable: Bamboo straws, keep cups, responsible take-away choices (no plastic-wrapped sushi, etc)…

The Family Situation

I’m really going to take the train from Sydney to the Gold Coast and back when visiting my family. It’s 14.5 hours, and a great view.

Microcosm

These are small changes, and they need to happen. I’m just one person, but I may as well be living in alignment with the planet where possible.

What’s interesting is that making these changes has raised my focus above the habitual. This is the awareness that can reform systems.

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