Believe it or not, heading back to uni is fast approaching. Between balancing your degree, social life, and everything in between, you may feel you don’t have much time or budget for living sustainably.
But reducing plastic doesn’t have to be expensive. More often than not, cutting down on plastic actually saves you money in the long run — particularly when you switch from single-use items to reusables. So, we’ve rounded up the best tips, hacks, products and DIYs to help you reduce plastic in all aspects of university life!
Our guide is divided into two parts:
Part 1: On Campus, Bathroom & Toiletries, Cleaning & Laundry
So without further ado, let’s make David Attenborough proud.
By the way, you can get 10% off everything on our plastic-free shop with the code BACKTOUNI until the end of September!
- Keep your eyes peeled for freebies at events — It can be expensive to buy reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Many companies give them out for free at student events, such as Freshers Fayre and careers events, so keep a lookout!
Bonus tip: Download the Refill app to find free water refill points in and around campus.
- Make your own cutlery set — Put a set of metal cutlery in a zip bag, or wrap it in a cloth napkin to fashion your own cutlery set. You can always put a reusable bamboo set on your Christmas list!
Shop here: Bamboo cutlery set
- DIY hand gel — Pass on plastic and harsh chemicals by making your own hand gel. Follow this simple recipe to keep freshers’ flu at bay:
Vodka or rubbing alcohol (kills germs)
Aloe vera gel (soothes skin)
Lavender essential oil (antibacterial)
Tea tree essential oil (antibacterial)
Reused squeezy bottle
- Fill ¼ bottle with vodka or rubbing alcohol.
- Add 10-15 drops of each essential oil.
- Fill the rest of your bottle with aloe vera gel.
- Give it a shake!
- Bring your leftovers — Packing your own lunches can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary food packaging. In general, cooking in bulk is a great way to save on waste and money. Save tupperware from takeaway nights-in to pack your lunches!
- Take a small bag — For impromptu shopping trips, keep a small tote or produce bag in your uni bag so that you never have to ask for a plastic one.
Bathroom & toiletries
Switching to eco dental care may feel daunting, but there are brilliant eco-friendly alternatives out there.
Bamboo toothbrush — Put your flat mates’ plastic toothbrushes to shame with a bamboo toothbrush. At the end of its life, you can compost the handle or use it as a stake for house plants!
Shop here: Bamboo toothbrush
DIY toothpaste — For a really simple recipe, check out this popular one by Trash Is For Tossers:
Switch your plastic packaged hand soap and shower gel for soap bars. Bars of soap save so much plastic in comparison to plastic pumps. They also last way longer, as they don’t contain as much water — so they’re far more cost effective, too!
Shop here: Paper-wrapped soap bars
- Store your soap bars on a soap dish to ensure they last as long as possible. You don’t need anything fancy. You could use pebbles or copy this clever DIY:
- Use soap bar scraps (the small bits you get at the end of your bar’s life) to wash makeup brushes and reusable cotton rounds, or collect them up to make your own liquid soap!
- To create the best lather, use a body sponge with your soap bar.
Shop here: Organic cotton & bamboo body sponge
Read more: Clever soap bar tips and tricks
DIY air freshener — Reuse a plastic container to freshen up your bathroom with this easy recipe:
10x drops of an essential oil of your choice (e.g. lavender)
Reused spray bottle
- Fill the spray bottle with water.
- Add 10x drops of essential oil.
- Spray! Freshen up the bathroom, bed linen, and furniture.
Loo roll — Plastic-free loo roll is tricky to comeby in supermarkets. Who Gives a Crap is a brilliant subscription service for plastic-free loo roll (plus, it’s made from 100% recycled paper). You could split the cost with your housemates — you’ll never get caught short when someone forgets to stock up!
Cleaning & Laundry
All purpose cleaner — Reuse a spray bottle to make your own eco-friendly all purpose cleaner. This is a great way to reuse the same plastic packaging over and over again — think of how wasteful it is to buy a new spray bottle each time your cleaning product runs out.
White vinegar (cuts through grease, dirt, odours, mould and mildew)
Your choice of essential oil (10 drops)
Reused spray bottle
- Combine equal parts white vinegar and water.
- Add 10 drops of essential oils.
Don’t be put off by the smell of vinegar — it fades very quickly!
Lemons — Got half a lemon in the fridge? Is your housemate about to throw one out after making a G&T? Collect up spare lemons and put them to work! They are a natural disinfectant, and are perfect for…
- Getting rid of hard water marks that build up around taps and showers.
- Polishing stainless steel to leave it sparklingly clean.
- Disinfecting chopping boards.
Just squeeze the lemon directly onto the area and wipe with a cloth. You could reuse old toothbrushes to scrub nooks and crannies.
You can also use lemons to clean your microwave.
Laundry — Have you heard of soap nuts? They’re dried fruit shells from India. They contain natural soap called saponin, and are a natural, plastic-free laundry detergent. You put a few nuts into a cloth bag, and throw it into your washing machine with your laundry. They clean brilliantly, and even better, you can use the same bag of nuts multiple times, so your cost per wash is a bargain!
Shop here: Soap nuts
Read more: More plastic-free cleaning hacks
Plus, our Back To Uni plastic-free gift box (free delivery) is the perfect settling-in pack if you know someone heading to uni this month.
Oh hello! Just a quick note to say, we’re an eco-friendly subscription box helping our subscribers reduce plastic waste step-by-step. If that sounds exciting, enjoy 10% off your first box today with the code FIRSTBOX. That’s all for now, cheerio.