DIY sustainability kit

Students have a lot to stress out about, and being environmentally-conscious may take a backseat to other concerns. But with the right changes and adjustments, attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle isn’t all that much of a hassle. Here are a few tips to consider to make your day-to-day less wasteful — by having a DIY sustainability kit ready to go, you won’t have to think twice about your choices. Here are a few items that work best for me in my own kit!


GRAPHIC BY JAMIE BROWN/FOGHORN
  • Tote bags: 
    • I always keep an extra tote bag in my backpack in case I end up making a last-minute trip to the store, and I would recommend that everyone brings a reusable bag on their grocery runs — you’ll save yourself a few cents and help the planet while you’re at it. 
  • Drink containers:

While many people do have some sort of reusable water bottle, there are still a ton of single-use plastic water bottles and cups being sold and used on campus. Having a reusable water bottle and coffee mug or tumbler is one of the simplest substitutions you can make. An added bonus is that you won’t have to purchase a water bottle every time you get thirsty, and a lot of coffee shops offer a discount if you bring a personal cup! 

  • Food containers: We’ve all been there: It’s 12 p.m., and you’re starving but have no food, so you either have to purchase something or stay hungry. Having a reusable container is one of the best ways to avoid single-use plastic. Consider filling your container with locally-grown products and make sure you bring your own cutlery set, too! 

Bonus tip: Purchasing snacks in bulk and then using snack pouches (mesh, silicon, or canvas) is a lot cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than buying snack-sized packages. When purchasing containers, glass and stainless steel are the best options because they can be recycled easily! 

  • Refillable spray/beauty bottles: 
    • There are areas of environmental sustainability where I know I still have room for improvement, and beauty and skincare are definitely some of them. There are items that I can purchase in large quantities, such as hand sanitizer and lotions, and then put into small reusable containers. 

Bonus Tip: Skincare can be a DIY project (if you have enough time and commitment). Another option is buying locally-made products or products that you know are naturally made.  

I don’t always have these with me, but I always have them ready if I need them: 

  • E-books or library books:
    • Surprisingly, one of the hardest things for me to stop doing was buying physical copies of books. For me, nothing used to beat the smell of a freshly purchased paperback from the bookstores — until I realized this wasn’t a sustainable choice. Now, I try to purchase the electronic or audio version of my textbooks and books, but since I still love physical books, I make great use of our local libraries!
  • Napkins:
    • Although most napkins are compostable, they are still technically single-use items. I find that bringing a small hand towel on-the-go is convenient, as it’s fairly light and can be used multiple times!
  • Menstrual cup: 
    • A menstrual cup comes in handy for those of us who have periods when that time of the month comes around. Unlike tampons or pads, a menstrual cup is completely reusable, and I find it to be an easier option. The best part: depending on your flow, it will only have to be cleaned and replaced every 8-12 hours.

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