5 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste as A Student

By Asser Sigmund Ang

Reducing waste is not as hard as what you might think it is! In 2019, an average Canadian produce approximately 673 kg of waste per year, making us the eighth biggest waste producers worldwide (Sevunts, 2019). Who would have thought that such a country like Canada who has a good environmental image would generate this enormous amount of waste? The fact that Canada performs worse than the United States in terms of waste management is unimaginable and shocking. As a student, you can do many ways to help reduce waste and there are five easy ways to do just that!

1. Avoid food waste
- When you were young, your parents may have told you to finish up your meal because (1) there are some people who can’t afford food, (2) they spent a lot of money to feed you, or (3) eating more will help you grow taller. Well, your parents are mostly right, but the actual main reason is to prevent greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste. Only put a reasonable amount of food on your plate that you think you can finish. If you can’t eat up all your food, transfer the leftover into a container and save it in the fridge for later. Also, only buy groceries that you only need for a certain amount of time to keep the unused goods/products from going into waste. Try eating down your fridge before you decide to go grocery shopping!

2. Type notes if possible
- Each of us has a different style of learning. If you find no problem from learning
through your notes in the computer, then this can help you reduce waste as a
student. Not only that you can save trees from being cut down, you can access your notes anytime and anywhere as long as you don’t forget to save them in a USB or in any type of file storage (e.g. Google Drive). Now, begin typing down all the things you’ve learned in class using your device and actually study them to get that A+!

3. Use reusable cups or straws
- You reduce waste when you use a reusable cup to fill it up with coffee or bring reusable straw to drink your favourite bubble tea. Try looking for stores in your area that offer discounts when you bring your own cup. For example, at the University of Waterloo, a student can save 20 cents if they bring their own reusable mug at all Food Services outlets on-campus. The 20-cent discount may seem small but if you purchase a cup of coffee every day, these little savings add up over time and you’ll be surprised of how much you’ve saved. You’re helping the environment plus you’re saving money. It’s a win-win situation!

4. Use reusable bags
- “Every year, Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste” (Justin, Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 2019). As you can see plastic waste is such a huge problem in Canada that even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to ban single-use plastics. By using a reusable bag to place things in, you can help eliminate plastic waste that goes into our landfills, streets, shorelines and oceans. Just like how you can save up from bringing your own reusable cup, having a reusable bag with you when you’re shopping prevents you from being charged from buying plastic bags. Also, you can decide on what size of the reusable bag to bring based on the amount you’re buying. Whereas, in stores, you don’t know how big the plastic bag they’re providing you, thereby leaving you with no choice but to purchase more bags
to put everything in.

5. Take shorter showers (Waste is not all about trash, but also of water!)
- Water is indeed life! But have you thought about how much water you’ve used from taking a bath alone? I assume a lot! The average Canadian uses about 329L of water per day and 35% of it comes from bathing (McGill University, 2014). If you’ve done your daily shower, that’s okay, you can start tomorrow by making your bath shorter than you usually spend. If you used to shower 10 minutes on average, try lowering it down to 5. Shampoo your hair and soap up your skin all at once and wash your whole body afterwards. Voila! You just cleaned up yourself pretty well under a shorter amount of time.

You see how easy it is to save the environment? You just have to force yourself into these sustainable actions until you get used to them. Be a great example to others because people need someone like you. Go Green, Be Green!

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. (2019, June 10). Canada to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for plastic waste. Retrieved from https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2019/06/10/canada-ban-harmful-single-use-plastics-and-
McGill University. (2014, February 25). How much are we using? Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/waterislife/waterathome/how-much-are-we-using
Sevunts, L. (2019, October 18). Canada among worst waste-producing countries: study. Retrieved from https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2019/10/15/canada-global-waste-index-8th-place/



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UW Campus Compost

A student-run club that operates a small-scale composting service, while also promoting sustainability through proper waste management and Zero Waste lifestyle.