How to reduce your plastic waste at university


Of all the waste we produce, plastic is particularly damaging to the environment. With single-use plastic products all over the shelves, the situation isn’t getting better. To commemorate Zero Waste Week from 3rd-7th September, we’re sharing 11 easy ways to minimise your plastic waste at university.

Pack your lunches differently

Stop using cling film and sandwich bags for your packed lunches and start using containers that you won’t throw away after a single use. If you find a container the same size as your sandwiches then the contents won’t spill. Simple as that!

Buy in bulk

Instead of buying multiple small containers of yoghurt, for example, you can buy a large container equating to the same volume. This will have a smaller mass of plastic packaging.

Use biodegradable glitter

Glitter is litter, which is especially important for all you festival veterans to remember (psst! Here are seven student-friendly festivals to book for 2019). The cheap and easy alternative? Buy biodegradable glitter from eco-friendly makeup brands, such as Glitterlution. Pots of shimmer and shine start from just £2.99, so there’s really no excuse to litter with plastic glitter!

Don’t use disposable plastic cutlery

Rather than taking plastic cutlery in a café or from a street food vendor, bring along your own set that won’t be thrown away after one use.

Buy a reusable coffee cup

Takeaway coffee cups have a plastic inner lining and the vast majority of them are not recycled. Rather than throwing away one of these cups each time you have a latte, you could take your own reusable cup to your favourite café. Costa Coffee and Starbucks will give you a 25p discount and Pret a Manger will give you 50p off.

Buy a reusable water bottle

Plastic water bottles are produced and sold in vast quantities. Instead of buying a new one each time you’re thirsty, invest in a reusable water bottle and download the Refill app, which shows you where you can get water for free. Win win!

Use matches instead of plastic lighters

Unlike plastic lighters, wooden matches are biodegradable. This is a very easy change to make.

Buy plastic-free teabags

Plastic is so widely used that small amounts are even in most teabag seals. You could buy tea brands that don’t use plastic in their teabags or you could make loose leaf tea (which tastes better anyway).

Make your own juice and smoothies

We all enjoy fruit juice and smoothies, but the problem is that they come in plastic-lined cartons and plastic bottles. Why not make a batch of smoothies yourself and freeze them? You can choose exactly what ingredients you put in the drinks and you’ll produce less plastic waste.

Shop for food with less packaging

Greengrocers, butchers and farmers markets sell food with far less packaging than supermarkets. You can also take your own containers to these sellers. There are also shops that sell products with minimal or no packaging where you have to take your own containers. All of these can be more expensive than supermarkets though, so work out where’s the best place for you to buy all the things you need with the least packaging possible.

Take containers to collect your takeaway

Instead of throwing out a whole set of plastic containers each time you get a takeaway meal, you could take your own containers to be filled with your curry or Chinese order. Ask the restaurant if they will accommodate this, just in case. Most won’t have a problem doing it, especially if you give them regular business!