Minimizing your waste at Queen’s

Tackling your carbon footprint one step at a time

Lifestyle changes like carrying re-useable containers can help reduce your waste production.
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Reducing your carbon footprint as a student goes beyond recycling—it’s about knowing what to recycle and when.

According to a 2013 CBC investigation into garbage disposal in Canada, the country is among the worst developed nations in garbage production. We produce almost 2000 lbs of garbage per person, each year—double the amount cited by the highest-ranked developed nation, Japan.

Reducing waste consumption isn’t necessarily about buying less. You can make small-scale changes to reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on plastic consumption, and become a smarter consumer.

You can make small-scale changes to reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on plastic consumption, and become a smarter consumer.

Starting small is a great way to ensure that the changes made are sustainable for your lifestyle—not just the planet.

Cleaning at home

Students’ cupboards are usually filled with off-brand chemical blends and paper towels. An easy, sustainable, and healthy alternative to this combination is a homemade vinegar cleaning solution and reusable cleaning cloths.

To make the solution, start by mixing one part white vinegar with one part water, then add a few drops of essential oil to counteract the vinegar’s strong smell. This all-purpose cleaner can be used on countertops, in bathroom and kitchen sinks, and around general eating areas.

For dish and hand soap, and a simple all-in-one laundry detergent, students can purchase castile soap in bulk from Amazon or their nearest Walmart. This multi-purpose cleaning solution is safe for your body and dishes and can save you several trips to the drug store to replace home necessities.

When ready, put both solutions in reusable dispensers. Apply it to cloths to make your student home life much simpler and less wasteful. 

On the go

Analyzing your own consumption patterns is crucial to maintaining a waste-minimizing lifestyle. For me, this means carrying around a small, reusable shopping bag for small purchases at the drug store or on the fly.

If you spend a lot of time outside the house, you could be consuming more packaged food, beverages, and bottled water. Carrying a reusable water bottle, a travel mug for hot beverages, and a container for leftovers is a sure way keep plastic and wasteful beverage cups out of landfills.

Groceries

Plastic bags are ingrained in everyday life, leading to wasteful consumption several times when students purchase groceries.

Transporting groceries in larger reusable bags helps—it also saves a dime on plastic bags and is a more comfortable way to tow your food.

If you tend to shop heavily in the produce section of the supermarket, switching from plastic bags for individual items to washable cotton bags makes a difference.  Cotton bags can be purchased online or at craft stores in Kingston and can be conveniently washed with your clothing for the following week’s grocery trip.

General shopping

Season-long fashion trends have led to a quick turnover in students’ closets. If you’re interested in maintaining the season’s top looks, the thrift store is your friend.

Shopping at thrift stores reduces the cost of fast-fashion picks. It’s a sustainable approach to fashionable dressing, and you can often find some hidden gems.

When looking to get rid of those newly-rejected fashion picks, try selling them on online forums like the Queen’s Facebook Free and For Sale group or donating them to charity. This saves countless pounds of unused clothing from ending up in landfills when they could be keeping someone warm instead.

When looking to get rid of those newly-rejected fashion picks, try selling them on online forums like the Queen’s Facebook Free and For Sale group or donating them to charity.

When possible, students should also consider replacing old toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and everyday household items like straws with bamboo or steel alternatives.

These environmentally friendly products last much longer and are more sustainable for your budget, lifestyle, and the planet.

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