Originally published in the October 2017 edition of Rabelais Magazine 

Looking to minimise your environmental impact but your funds (or lack thereof) keep stopping you from buying organic? Our student income (aka pretty much nothing) doesn’t have to get in the way of making your living more sustainable. Sustainable living isn’t about having the highest quality, therefore, the most expensive; it’s about playing the game smart, not hard. Here are a few, super easy ways of attacking your consumption habit.

Stop buying new clothes
We are at the height of a textile crisis with 6000 kilograms of clothing produced every 10 minutes in Australia alone. Instead of following the fast fashion trends you could dye, sew or cut clothes in your current wardrobe. This way you’ll update them quicker, easier and for practically free! If something is beyond repair, only head to second-hand shops. Melbourne is lucky to have the largest range of pre-loved fashion in the country (as a Perthian, I know!) and with an array of vintage and op shops, ranging from cheap to designer, you can take advantage of it no matter your budget.

Cook more
It’s hard. Between study, travel and classes, I often feel guilty for taking the time to prepare a lovely meal, but the benefits to my mind, body, wallet and the environment are astonishing. Eating junk food is inexcusable when you can fill yourself up with a vegan pumpkin soup or Spanish beans. It will only take thirty minutes and shouldn’t cost you more than ten bucks for 3-4 meals! Not only will you minimise your contribution to the meat and dairy industries, but you will also avoid using unnecessary plastic packaging. This approach also goes for taking your lunch to work and uni. Carrying around another bag might be your idea of hell (it sure is mine!), but the benefits to your wallet and the environment are unmeasurable.Use public transport

Use Public Transport
This one is a no-brainer, and if you’re aware of your environmental impact, I’m sure you’ve thought of this one before. But the, at least, $4 per trip ($8 return) for the tram can seem excessive and expensive. But your car, over the span of many years, will end up costing you more. It’s not just parking fees you need to consider, think about the fuel, servicing, kilometres, as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. A tram may take longer and feel more expensive, but instead of driving your carbon machine, you could be listening to a podcast or reading a book (your body should get used to the travel sickness… eventually).

Reusable shopping bags
Plastic bags are hard to recycle as it’s not a blanket rule that all recycling centres can recycle such soft plastic. So pick yourself up an uber cool shopping bag, something you’ll be excited to use, and use it as much as possible. This switch might cost you a couple of dollars but to help turn your mindset.

The most significant change you can make for the environment is your mindset. Seeing the grand picture of our consumption and the effect it has on the environment is the most significant gift you can give mother earth. Slow down, plan ahead and you’ll be well on your way to a zero waste lifestyle.