Or, how to lessen that stubborn carbon footprint
In honour of the Gazette’s Green issue, I thought I’d share a few simple steps students can take to make their lives a little more green. One of the key first steps to green-living is figuring out the impact you’re currently having, a.k.a your “carbon footprint.” You can calculate your carbon footprint here to get a clearer picture of how your lifestyle is impacting the environment.
Once you’re aware of your current impact, you can try any of these simple steps to start lowering it:
Stop junk mail
If you get your mail at a post office (as opposed to home delivery), talk to the staff at the post office and ask them not to deliver junk mail to your box. They’ll put a sticker on your box that will stop junk mail delivery.
If you’re on an average student budget, you can’t afford a new outfit every time you have a special event (or just a night out on the town), and it’s not particularly good for the environment to regularly buy new clothes either. An easy solution? Get together with similarly-sized friends before a night out, and have everyone bring a few favourite tops, dresses, and accessories. You don’t need to swap permanently, but everyone can put together a new-to-them outfit for the night without spending a cent.
The 3 Rs
Learn the recycling rules in Halifax. Sad but true, the primary reason many people don’t recycle is because they don’t know the rules. And chances are, if you didn’t grow up in Halifax, the rules here are different than where you grew up. Check this out, print off the chart and put it up by your recycling bin. No excuses. While you’re at it, don’t forget about the other two Rs—reduce and reuse!
Go (sort of) veggie
You don’t need to go vegetarian full-time to cut back on your carbon footprint. Even switching a couple of meat meals per week to vegetarian options will have a significant green impact and help your budget. You don’t need to eat tofu, either. There’s no shortage of delicious vegetarian pasta options out there, for example. Need some recipe inspiration? Click here.
Create a bulk food co-op
You’ve likely heard that buying in bulk is better for both the environment and your wallet, but this can be a challenge if you live alone. An easy solution is to set up a once-monthly outing with a group of friends to the bulk foods store. Make up a grocery list of items you all need, shop together to take advantage of the bulk prices and then split up your bulk groceries into smaller Tupperware containers and divide them up among the group. This significantly reduces excess packaging and food waste.
Make cheap stock
Whenever you’re chopping up vegetables for another recipe, save any of the bits that you don’t typically eat, but are SAFE to eat (such as green beans ends, clean potato peelings, carrot ends, the middle bit of peppers, celery leaves, etc) and store them in a sealed container in the freezer (a large yogurt container is a good choice). Once you have two large yogurt cartons filled up with veggie ends, dump the two containers into a large pot on the stove, and throw in some garlic, thyme, coriander, or any other herbs/spices you may like to add. Cover with water, put the lid on the pot, and simmer at a low temperature for a few hours. Strain the broth into well sealed containers and put it in the freezer for later use. This stock gives veggies a second life, and is perfect as a soup base, or for flavouring rice or sauces. For more detailed instructions for this tip, check this out.