By Bel Carroll
We are currently killing the planet. Most of us certainly don’t want to, but we are hurting it through our direct and indirect choices. Many of us have become so accustomed to the way that we live that we are forgetting the wider consequences of our daily actions. The reality is our waterways are clogged, our wildlife is endangered, and our health is more and more at risk because of everyday choices regarding sustainability. Regardless of whether or not you study at Deakin University, we all need to do our part to save the planet. Not only does doing your part make you feel good, but it can also actually work out to be cheaper for you. Without any further ado, here are five ways that students can help save the planet.
1. Learn how recycling works
How many times have we all forgotten what can and can’t be recycled? We are lucky that at Deakin University there is usually a recycling bin next to the regular bin, but how often are these bins used correctly? Some of us were taught in school what the difference between the two bins is but here is a quick refresher for those who aren’t sure. You can recycle paper, cardboard, glass, certain plastics, soft drink cans, and metals. You cannot recycle takeaway coffee cups, food scraps, plastic bags, and plastic wraps. Whilst you can recycle your takeaway coffee cup lid, popping your used cup in the recycling bin is the most common mistake people make with recycling. Which leads me on to my next point …
2. Use reusable containers
Whether it’s reusable coffee cups, metal drink bottles, those metal straws, or bringing your lunch box to uni, you can save so much money from reusable containers. Many cafes such as Caffeine and Cafe Ava in Building HE at the Burwood campus have started to offer their customers discounts for opting to use their reusable coffee cup. If you swap over today, you will be surprised to learn how much plastic you had been using and only using once. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s worth investing in your own stainless steel water bottle or your own Tupperware containers that you can bring to uni instead of buying single-use ones every day. This option does involve remembering to wash your reusable containers on a regular basis, but it’s a good habit to get into.
3. Resell or donate old textbooks
How many textbooks have you brought for units and never looked at again once you clicked ‘submit’ on your last assignment? Many of us are guilty of having hidden stashes of textbooks in our homes that we don’t know what to do with and can’t be bothered doing anything about. We could put them in the good old recycle bin, but we can actually do one better here and always pass them on to be reused. There a few Facebook groups such as the Deakin Textbook Exchange or Deakin University Book Exchange who can help you sell, swap or donate old books you aren’t using to someone who needs them. It is kind to donate your old books but for those of us who could use the extra dollars, selling them is a great way of recycling resources and knowledge.
4. Rethink your personal hygiene products
Some of us just need to use certain products once a month. Many of us have gone to DUSA reception on campus to pick up some of these certain products for free because these can cost a lot of money. Did you know that you can avoid this awkward experience altogether by investing in reusable hygiene products? Companies such as Juju and The Hannah Pad make these products to help reduce not only one’s cost of living but reduce the overall amount we throw out each month. In the case of Juju, a single period cup can last years compared to the countless products out there that you can only use once. This option doesn’t just save you money, it saves you the awkwardness of going to DUSA reception for a supply run, and helps you save the planet.
5. Stop investing in banks that use fossil fuels
Did you know that the Big Four Banks in Australia all invest in fossil fuels? Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, and ANZ have been doing this for a long time, and they won’t change because their customers won’t leave them. Changing banks is a pain, and it’s easier to stay, but institutions such as these four will not change unless people vote with their money and leave institutions that are not investing in the planet’s future. There are banks out there who are more committed to reducing our carbon footprints such as Bendigo Bank and Bank Australia. Many of us are assuming that by staying we are getting a good deal from our bank, but we could be doing much better. We even have small Bendigo Bank branch at our Burwood campus if you want to find out more information about what’s on offer.