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Becoming more environmentally conscious can seem like a big lifestyle change at times. The world of sustainability is a difficult one to navigate.However, there are small and necessary steps that we can do as individuals to reduce our impact on the planet.

Here are a few helpful hacks that I highly recommend giving a shot. And remember being more environmentally friendly is a journey- sometimes it can be hard, but it isalways worth it.

1. Home-made apple juice

The other day I was making apple crumble to get rid of our household apples. One of the steps is to simmer the apples with sugar and water and once they’re soft, you are supposed to get rid of the leftover water mixture. Instead, I thought, why not keep it? So, I put it in a jar and tried it, but it was way too sweet. All you need to do is pour ¼ of the apple mixture in a cup and fill the rest with water and you have yourself a home-made apple juice that tastes delicious. So next time you are making anything with apples be it apple pie or crumble, make sure, to try this hack.

2. Rice and Pasta Water

I think that it is safe to say that as students we cook a lot of pasta dishes. This hack was passed on to me by an old friend of mine who told me that at home, they use the drained pasta or rice water to water their plants. So, if you have any plants in your room, or some fresh herbs, you can use the leftover water, instead of pouring it down the drain.

3. Durham’s Scoop

Scoop is a student run shop that sells everything from pasta to dried fruits. The initiative is based on the eco idea that shelf-life products do not need to be wrapped in one use plastic that ends up in a landfill. You can buy how much you want and pay according to the weight. All you need to bring with you is some glass jars, or other reusable containers.

4. Countless trips to Tesco ….Countless Plastic Bags

As Durham students, we can use a lot of plastic bags if we shop at Tesco and do not have a tote bag. My suggestion is to invest in a fabric bag that can be reused as many times as possible or a rolling shopping bag, which I have seen a lot of recently in town. I know what you’re thinking… a rolling shopping bag looks a little bit awkward. But just think about the benefits: you don’t have to carry your shopping on your shoulders or back and it is more friendly towards the environment. Here are some links to some rolling bags that I personally find not completely appalling:

 5. Small lasting changes

One thing that I packed with me to university that I use almost daily is a tea infuser. If you’re studying in the North of England, you are probably very likely to drink a lot of tea because of the cosy weather and with a tea infuser you limit single use tea bags. You can do the same thing with a metal straw or sustainable cleaning sponges.

6. Fashion

What makes a big difference is where we decide to shop, consumer choice can positively shape the future of our industries towards a more sustainable world. If you like something on SHEIN, MONKI or any other fast fashion chain brand, try to look it up on Vinted or Depop, chances are, that the item, or a similar item will be available there due to the amount of clothing that they produce. Generally, I would recommend investing your money into more expensive pieces of clothing that are ethically sourced, rather than fast fashion that will bore you quickly. Remember: quality over quantity.

Here is a page where you can find out more about ethical fashion:

Living sustainably requires a change in mindset. It requires patience, research, and self-belief. You will not always get it right, but what matters is that you are trying to create a positive change. Good luck!

I am a first year Sociology student from the Czech Republic.
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