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Sustainable U: Sustainable swaps for October 2021

By Rachneet Randhawa, October 20 2021—

Have you ever wondered how you can reduce your daily waste and reduce your eco-footprint to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle? Greenwashing has become a popular buzzword and is defined as false advertising in which a company’s products and policies are deceptively used to persuade the customer that they are environmentally friendly when they in fact are not. But it can be difficult to navigate with all the convoluted vocab like “chemical-free,” “natural,” “non-toxic” and more. For this month’s sustainable swaps we’ve put together a quick cheat-sheet you can refer to for your everyday eco-friendly needs and ones that can help you start to vote with your dollar while adhering to the triple bottom line — people, profit and planet. We’ve neatly divided our top picks for students into three key themes: On the Go, Kitchen Essentials and Skincare. 

Let’s face it, as busy university students we are usually overwhelmed, and don’t have the spare time to run errands. That’s why we want to make your daily chores less of a hassle while remaining stylish and opting for ethical consumption. 

Reusable shopping bag: 

Those handy plastic grocery bags are a usual culprit, and with that, our pesky habit of hoarding and tossing them. But let’s face it, those oversized reusable plastic bags you can purchase for cents on the dollar at the grocers are tacky and over time become flimsy. Instead, we recommend reusable bags that fold into a cute little pouch that you can place in your purse at all times. Our alternative is the ChicoBag Original Tote, a signature all-in-one reusable bag that is made from 10 per cent recycled polyester — that’s right, recycled soda bottles — with a convenient slip pouch. 

Unlike those who have a campus meal plan or still live at home and enjoy home-cooked meals, other students have to create meal plans. You have to eat, but most of us find ourselves time-strapped to do meal prep. However, if you become intentional and budget time for prepping, why not do it as a sustainable foodie and reduce your impact on the environment?

Reusable food wraps: 

It’s difficult to have our three square meals a day as students on the go, juggling multiple responsibilities. Meal prepping and preparing your lunch is a healthier and cost-effective way to stay in good shape. Say goodbye to those pesky plastic Ziploc bags and boring brown paper lunch bags, which were so yesterday, by grabbing a set of beeswax wraps that are plant-based and compostable for day-to-day use. Super-versatile, they are not only good for your sandwich but can also wrap fruits, veggies and act as a cover to be used to wrap over bowls and plates to preserve freshness and replace plastic and disposable plastic wrap. Our alternative is the cult classic and popular Beeswax Wrap from The Beeswax Wrap Company that offers one of many fun colours and designs to choose from. As a certified B-Corp, 10 per cent of proceeds are donated to charitable initiatives including the Beekeeper’s Association. 

Reusable straws: 

So, by now these have become popular thanks to foodies and social media influencers that advocate for sustainable living. And it makes sense — by now you’ve probably seen the plastic straw in a sea turtle’s nose video that went viral. Although many fast food outlets have started to swap out paper straws rather than plastic, grabbing a package of reusable straws will come in handy. There are three main versions — bamboo, steel, silicone and even rice-based ones which are compostable. We recommend a set of steel straws, as they are less prone to breakage and easier to clean with the mini brush that accompanies it. Our recommendation is the Stainless Steel 8mm Straws from the Klean Kanteen which are made with safe and flexible silicone tips and pair up nicely with smoothies, juices and ice coffees galore. This brand is known to be the pioneer of BPA-free stainless steel beverage containers, including water bottles and advocating in the early days of the Go Green Movement.

Steel cutlery set: 

Again, we recommend steel compared to other material varieties, as it’s the most durable and easiest to upkeep and clean. Now is the best time to invest in one of these portable cutlery sets to know you are making a positive impact. There are also disposable non-plastic options, like bamboo versions, that can be composted after use. Our alternative is the Mizu Cutlery Set by tentree which includes a stainless steel fork, spoon, knife, chopsticks and straw all wrapped in a cute and convenient pouch. Best of all, no toxic additives are 100 per cent BPA-free and zero waste. Grab one and help reduce your eco-footprint while dining in Mac Hall or residence.

Your skincare needs are essential. But on overload mode during the semester, especially when midterms and finals hit, we tend to forget to do self-care even as simple as washing our face properly let alone maintaining a proper skincare routine. Why not feel good about yourself by reducing your everyday disposal of waste by investing in a reliable product knowing that you’re leaving an impact? 

Reusable cotton rounds: 

Cotton rounds are a staple of any decent skincare routine — they are a dream in removing makeup, nail polish or simply exfoliating your skin before cleansing. But your daily use can pile on quickly. Even using a couple of days adds up to 730 tossed out per year. Yikes! Did you know it takes nearly 20,000 litres of water just to produce a single kilogram of cotton? An eco-friendly alternative is to use reusable versions which can be washed, dried and used again for a longer period. Our alternative is the Mini face rounds from Kitsch made from 100 per cent natural fibres, chemical-free and fully biodegradable and comes in a convenient waterproof travel pouch, which will encourage you to go minimalist. They are made from organic bamboo and are ideal for both your skin and the environment and replace those wasteful disposable cotton rounds. For those of you obsessed with sanitation — no frets. Simply toss a handful of these into a laundry mesh bag on the delicate cycle and you are good to go. You’ll also be saving a lot of cash in the long run, perfect for your much-needed Starbies run. 

Shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be a boring chore or overpriced -— it can be a convenient pastime where you invest in products and services that align with your values. These are our hot recommendations for October, but feel free to play around with the materials and designs that are the most suitable for your needs. Until then, keep calm and eco on.

Sustainable U is a regular column focused on sustainability. This column is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board. 

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