How do you do this when you’re a student trying to save money? Galway is expensive enough without us having to pay extra to try and have a more sustainable lifestyle. I have compiled a few tips students and past students gave me that will allow you to not only to reduce your waste, but also save money.
Living more sustainably does not have to be more expensive, but you do need to be a bit more organised. Start with what I like to call a ‘waste audit:’ Catalogue and record what you throw away regularly. That will help you assess what type of waste you accumulate, thus helping you plan your future purchases accordingly.
Food waste is the big bad wolf. Try and see where you lose the most food: is it because you cook too big a portion? Or because you buy too much? One way around that is to put the “old” veggies or the leftovers in the front of the fridge, so you will not forget to eat them the next time you open the door.
Cook smaller portions and shop more regularly. If the products can be bought without packaging, as is often the case in the bulk isles, that’s better and cheaper. Two birds with one stone. If you have the packaging, you can repurpose it into mini “greenhouses” to grow plants and food from veggie scraps.
Space is often an issue when you are a student. When buying items in bulk, ask your flatmates if they want to share. That will save you not only space but also money. At the very least, it will be a bonding exercise.
In the restaurant, ask for a doggy bag. It would be a shame to waste a good meal you cannot finish! That will also help with organising your fridge. Plus, why would you buy tupperwares to put your leftovers in, when you can get some for free while on a night out?
Use old jars as cups. Without burning your hands. Now that house parties are back, ask people to bring their own cups. Buy a reusable coffee cup and a reusable water bottle.
Clothes-wise, remember that you can be stylish on a budget. Fashion is a cycle: fast fashion companies are trying to make you think you need a new top every other week, but you will quickly realise the tops you buy are all the same. Your dress from two years ago will come back in style, do not throw it away. And visit the second-hand stores in Galway, there’s plenty! You can also trade with friends (and that’s your Saturday afternoon’s activity sorted.) For the clothes that are not wearable anymore, you can always repurpose them into other items, such as dust rags.
There is a lot more to be said and done, and if you have questions, suggestions or need some tips, the Facebook group “Sustainable Living” is a good resource.