For some people, Covid-19 has highlighted the fact that we need to tackle climate change at a much faster rate, because if there is one thing that can be taken from numerous lockdowns, it is that the planet will not wait. Like climate change, Covid-19 has hit struggling retailers hard, but some have been quick to capitalise on increased social media engagement to persuade shoppers to purchase their goods online instead of in-store. But at what cost to the environment? I was an established online shopper long before the pandemic hit, so all of those flash sales and discount advertisements on social media weren’t new to me. But it wasn’t until we had to work from home that I realised just how bad of an impact my online shopping addiction was having on the environment. Whether it was clothes arriving from ASOS, or books arriving from Amazon. The endless stream of packages was hard to miss.
The build-up of rubbish and cardboard did not go unnoticed, and I kept picturing all of the plastic packaging mounting on top of an already gigantic pile of landfill waste. With each delivery the postman’s van would also release C02 emissions, causing further environmental damage. So I knew something had to change. Now, I know I don’t have the right to call myself a ‘Green Queen’ just yet, but I’ve made a number of changes to try and reduce my carbon footprint over the past year. If living a more eco-friendly life is something that you would like to take onboard, then here are a few tips on how to make yourself a little more green-minded.
1. Reusable Bamboo Pads: These are a game-changer! Plus, bamboo is naturally hypo-allergenic and gentle on the skin. They last for ages, and can be easily cleaned in a mesh bag. Just throw it into the washing machine on an eco-friendly wash.
2. Reusable Water Bottles/Coffee Cups: Two eco-friendly essentials. I know some cafés are not accepting reusable cups at the moment due to the pandemic, so just make sure to recycle the paper cup that your coffee comes in. Even better; get some compost, seeds, and water, and you’ve got your own seedling plant pot.
3. Be Vegan(ish!): Not to force veganism on anyone (I’m not, I promise!), but if you can cut down on eating meat and dairy products during the week, it will make a difference. Meat and dairy are responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture industry, so it wouldn’t do any harm to shake things up a little.
4. Be Mindful of Printing Paper: As students, we often have the need to print off numerous articles and short stories for some lectures, only to be discarded at the end of a semester. If you can, read the article online and take notes on your laptop. If you really need to print something off, just make sure that you are printing double-sided.
5. Buy Second-hand Clothing/Shop Vintage: There are so many good second-hand and vintage stores around Galway! However, if you can’t find that staple piece you’re looking for in-store, apps such as Depop or Nuw are better alternatives than fast-fashion stores.
6. And lastly – Speak up! Whether you’re already an avid eco-warrior, or whether you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to pass along any tips of your own to friends, family, or colleagues, and encourage them to become more eco-friendly too. Remember: a positive mindset is the onset of change!