In a world that is rapidly becoming more conscious of its collective environmental impact, you may be wondering what part you can play in reducing your own contribution to climate change. Inspirational young voices like that of Greta Thunberg are ensuring that we all feel responsible for doing our bit for the planet, whether that’s reducing waste or consuming more consciously.
However, grocery shopping can be a task fraught with difficulties for the eco-friendly student. When fresh foods are often cheaper when plastic-wrapped and in large quantities, it can be incredibly hard to keep your food and plastic waste to a minimum if you’re on a tight budget. Here, though, are a few ways to help save the planet without breaking the bank.
Seasonal produce often costs less and tastes better, so save those strawberries for the summer!
First, the basics: bring your own carrier bags! Supermarkets now charge for plastic bags, so it makes sense to bring along a couple of reusable supermarket bags or totes when you make the trek to Tesco, Aldi, or whichever supermarket is nearest. If you’ve been bringing your own bags for a while, then the next step is to introduce reusable produce bags and containers into your weekly shop. These can be used for loose fruit and veg, as well as cheese and other fresh products from behind the deli or meat counters in the supermarket.
Another tip for when you’re at the supermarket is to try and buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Seasonal produce often costs less and tastes better, so save the strawberries for summer! The limitations of only buying seasonal fruits and vegetables mean that you must get more creative with your dishes, so you might try brand new meals – all whilst minimising the carbon footprint of your food.
If you do find yourself with more food than you need on a regular basis, then consider asking your flat mates whether you can share fresh foods like fruit and veg, bread, and milk amongst one another instead of buying separately. Another great alternative to this is to host potlucks – communal meals where each guest contributes to the dish. This is a great way to minimise excess food as well as being a great excuse for a get-together.
Recently, zero waste shops where you can bring your own containers and fill them with products like cereals, pasta, and pulses have become increasingly popular. However, these shops often aren’t cheap, and there are no permanent zero waste shops in the area surrounding Warwick campus. A brilliant alternative is to make visits to your local fruit and veg shop. Here, you can pick up your food at a cheaper price and in your own bags and containers, all whilst supporting local businesses. There is also a pop-up shop operating in Coventry and Warwickshire called Zero, where a variety of zero waste food and cleaning products are available.
The freezer also provides an easy way to get your five-a-day while also reducing cost and waste
It is vitally important make the most out of your local recycling program. In both Coventry and Leamington Spa, not only are various types of packaging recyclable, but you can also use a small green caddy bin to dispose of your food waste, rather than throwing it in the general waste. Small, compostable bags are easily available for these food caddies, and using them is a simple solution to the problem of food waste.
Your freezer can be crucial to help you get the most use out of your food. If you haven’t finished your loaf of bread and its expiry date is looming, pop it in the freezer before that can happen – defrosted bread makes tasty toast. The freezer also provides an easy way to get your five-a-day while also reducing cost and waste. Frozen fruit and veg are cheaper, just as nutritional, and often less wasteful than their fresh counterparts, so are an excellent choice for the eco-friendly student on a budget.
Reducing your food and plastic waste whilst on a student budget is tricky but needn’t be impossible. Following these simple tips can help your small actions become part of a bigger change, and ultimately help you play your part in saving the planet.