Beaches covered all over with plastics, birds dying with stomachs full of plastic parts: Our eco system is on the brink to collapse. A student city like Lund might seem a place far away from all these problems at first glance, but in fact also students here in Sweden contribute to this miserable situation.
Plastic here, plastic there
Life as a student can be really hard sometimes. Especially if it is Monday morning, 7 am and you have to get up for your 8 o’clock class. What usually happens in this situation is that once you managed to leave the bed you quickly get dressed, grab a toast from the kitchen and get on your bike so that you reach your class in time. After surviving the first lecture it is finally time for a break sticking to your motto “caffeine isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin!” With the coffee-to-go-cup in your right hand and a sandwich wrapped in plastic foil in your left hand you head to the next class.
At 12 pm you meet your friends to get some lunch. As always you directly walk into the nearest grocery store to buy some food at the deli counter. This time you decide to take some chicken and rice, which is put into a huge plastic box and conveniently goes with a plastic fork and knife. Additionally, a big bottle of ice tea is purchased as well as a bag of sweets to share with everybody. Once the whole group has packed their food into plastic bags at the cashier you can look for a nice place to sit and enjoy your meal. Having recharged your batteries the second half of your university day can begin…
Break the rules!
Adding up the plastic consumption of just half a day at university would make lots of students look surprised. In many cases it is just the lack of time and the pure convenience to buy packaged food and beverages. But what can students do to reduce their plastic consumption? The key words here are preparation and thinking ahead.
Most of the students drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, so that investing in a reusable cup would be a first step. In terms of getting a snack or sandwich it is always recommendable to prepare it at home. To do so, students do not have to invest hours. Within 5-10 minutes a fresh and delicious sandwich can be prepared and put into a stainless steel box or into a plastic box that can be reused. Talking about the lunch, it can either be prepared at home as well or one can bring their own box to the grocery store and ask the staff to put the food in there. As a last step a glass or BPA free plastic bottle should be your daily companion! Tab water in Sweden is safe so that there is no need to purchase extra plastic bottles.
Going from a life full of plastic to a plastic free life is an ongoing process. One can start with small things such as using a reusable water bottle or a reusable coffee/tea cup. Then, step-by-step, there can be implemented new ideas. Within the frame of the “Eco – Why not?” series at Lundagard.net, there will be published a video on zero waste showing how a zero waste lifestyle can easily be realized in practice. Stay tuned!
Did you know
…that it takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade?
…that we currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce?
…that enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times?
…that Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical)?
…that annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute?