How to be a little more eco-friendly

In a time of political unrest and climate change, it can feel overwhelming and as though there is no act big enough to help the planet. I felt this way for a long time and still feel it from time to time. I felt as though nothing I could do would make a difference.

Eventually, I moved beyond this way of thinking and started doing small things that make a difference. Doing small things to help the planet made me feel a little less helpless in this time of pessimism.

As a student, I understand first hand that some of the ways to help our environment are expensive and not everyone can afford to make changes in that way.

Organic and fair-trade food is wonderful; however, it tends to be very expensive and I know as a student that only works part-time there is no way I can afford those foods on a regular basis.

Over the past few months I have made a list of a few ways to help the environment without breaking the bank and in many cases will actually save you a bit of money here and there!

For students, I know caffeine is a way of life and I dread to think of how much caffeine I personally consume; but without thinking too hard about that, did you know a lot of cafes will give you a discount if you bring your own reusable cup? At Starbucks at the end of the season, they usually put all their thermoses and cold cups on sale so you can even get yourself a cute one for cheap!

As previously mentioned, buying ethical and environmentally friendly food can be expensive at times, so here are a few tips and tricks to reduce food and plastic waste when it comes to grocery shopping:

Support your local farmers

When I have a bit of spending money, I go to farmers markets and support the local farmers because what they are doing is incredibly important and delicious! Or even better if you have a little garden try growing your own produce. I just have a little deck at my apartment but I still managed to grow little cherry tomatoes, red shallots, and lots of herbs.

Buy BC grown

If you can’t get to a farmer’s market check the grocery store for B.C grown produce because then not only are you supporting your local farmers, but you are reducing your carbon footprint as your food doesn’t need to travel as far.

I have also started saving my cardboard egg cartons when I remember and I drop them off at roadside stands that sell eggs so they can reuse them. I have also started buying my eggs there on my way to work because they are so tasty.

Buy in bulk

Another good place to help reduce your use of single-use plastic is the Bulk Barn store. If you bring in your own containers to fill with product you get a 25% discount. Your containers can basically be anything as long as it is 3 inches wide.

I save glass jars from salsa or jam and wash them out really well and use them for a bunch of things. Also, because this is a port city it is not a bad idea to store your dry foods in containers anyway because mice are very common and annoying. Trust me. The Bulk Barn also has student Wednesdays where you get 10% off if you show your student card.

I shouldn’t even have to say this one, but your vegetables literally came out of the dirt. You don’t need to put them in plastic bags at the grocery store to keep them safe. Just stop. If you absolutely need to put them in bags invest in some reusable fabric bags.

Get your thrift on

Thrift store shopping is a pretty well-known way of helping the environment and it is even more important during the time of fast fashion, because fast fashion is a major contributor to consumer waste.

My favourite store to go to is WIN – Women in Need. They have three locations and on Saturdays if you present your student card you get a 10% discount. You can also feel good about the fact that the majority of their profit goes back into the community to help women in unsafe environments. Unlike some other big thrift stores *cough* Value Village *cough* *cough*.

Salvation Army is another good thrift store to check out. I don’t agree with their politics and usually use them as a last resort, however, if you donate anything to them tell the cashier and they will give you a $15 off a $25 purchase coupon.

If you want more detail on how thrifting is an important aspect of sustainable living I highly recommend checking out Meghan’s blog post on the topic.

Credit for used clothing

Sometimes when it comes to clothing, thrifting is just not an option and that’s okay. H&M has a global initiative to help reduce the effects of fast fashion and make the fashion industry more sustainable. You can drop off any clothing in any condition and with every bag, you get a coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase.

If the clothing is in good shape it is sold as second-hand goods and worn again. If the clothing is not suitable to be worn again they use the fabric to make new clothing items or cleaning cloths and reused. Lastly, clothing in really rough shape is used for damping or insulating fibers or studied to help with research on textile recycling.

Bulk soap products

When it comes to single-use bottles and pumps such as shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, kitchen soap, hand lotion, window cleaner, or any form of household cleaner, the eco-friendly ones you buy in stores are not only WAY more expensive, but they also come in plastic bottles.

But now there is a Victoria-based store that makes soap even cleaner! It is called Victoria Soap Exchange and they sell various types of products in reduced plastic bulk for companies or you can bring in your own smaller bottles and they will fill them up for you.

You can buy specific bottles from them, reuse old ones from other brands, or just repurpose other bottles you have kicking around. Not only is this a greener way to keep yourself and house clean, all of their products smell and work great. They even offer fragrance and colour free products for people with sensitive skin or allergies.

Join the climate strike

These may seem like little things, and they are, but it is better than doing nothing. If climate change is something that you feel passionate about but you don’t know how to make a difference yourself, you can join other students in the world-wide climate strike all this week.

The last and hopefully the biggest day is on Friday, September 27th. On Friday there will be UVic Campus walkout at 11 am and then students will join all the other protesters downtown in front of the BC legislature.

If you have ever felt like your actions have gone unnoticed, well MAKE THEM NOTICED NOW! Nobody is going to fix this for us without a fight, we need to scream and yell about climate change until someone hears us! 


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2 Responses

  1. Mabel says:

    Hey there! Very nice article! 🙂 Thanks for sharing that!
    I just wanted to say that WIN actually offers a 25% discount for students on Saturdays, when you present your student ID! 🙂
    Also, 100% of WIN’s revenue goes back to the community. WIN is a non-profit community cooperative, 100% self-funded – they operate from donations of clothing, housewares, and furniture, and other items, and resell these at their five locations in Victoria and Langford (when these items are not directly used in one of their five empowerment programs for women in the community).
    WIN has been empowering more than 1000 women every year, for over 28 years!

    • Avery says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this and for correcting me! I love shopping and donating to WIN and I am so happy to hear that 100% of their proceeds go to women in need!