Sustainability in the Reign of The Rona

Remember when veganism was viewed as a cult that was going to take over the world? Maybe the revolution is sooner than you think…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that plant-based milks are on the rise – even amongst non-vegans. More and more people have become aware of the benefits of non-dairy substitutes, to both humans and our dear old cows. In fact it’s said that, through the Covid years, oat milk sales have been increasing more than toilet paper and hand sanitiser! Big companies are always led by consumer demand, so now that our awareness is growing it makes sense that we’re seeing a huge increase in products dedicated to preventing harms to our planet and cruelty to animals. Who’d have thought we’d ever see the day that all the major fast food chains were offering plant-based burgers and chicken nuggets? 

It’s good to remember that you don’t have to be veggie to eat veggie. Trying out No Meat Mondays or alternate weeks of meat-eating/veggie are a great way of helping out the planet – not to mention veggie meals are far cheaper! And there are lots of other ways – even with our limited budget as students – to opt for a more sustainable life. Starting with a reusable grocery bag and a recyclable travel mug (sold at The Edit Room). Taking the time to learn which bins to use for different types of rubbish is an easy win, as is making use of bottle banks for glass recycling. Yes, instead of lining your bottles along your windowsill and then eventually throwing them in the waste bin, find your local bottle bank and recycle – you can even turn it into a flatmate road trip!  

Alongside changes in the food industry, plenty of the bigger clothing brands are also starting to use recyclable and more ethically-sourced materials. But if fast fashion is still too much for you, please give a warm welcome to reselling and upcycling apps such as Depop and Vinted, charity shops, and vintage kilo sales – all of which allow you to shop second-hand with style. Skincare and personal hygiene brands are increasingly making their products and packaging more sustainable too – shop around in Out of This World near the Leeds Corn Exchange, or at the online Ethical Superstore to start your journey! For those who have periods it may be worth looking into one of the wave of new ethical tampon companies that have popped up during the pandemic, or investing in a menstrual cup which is reusable for years and saves on both money and packaging. 

Even though we may not be able to completely transform our lives to be more sustainable, especially as students, we can change the small things and make a big difference. It’s not about being perfect – it’s just about all of us playing whatever small part we can. 

Milan Wright