How do I jump on the flexitarian, mushroom wearing, eco warrior bandwagon?
Part-time planet saving
Yes, I am aware that this sounds like a pretentious order at an alternative Cambridge coffee house but I am seriously considering becoming a part time do-gooder. With the IPCC’s (International Panel on Climate Change) report coinciding so beautifully with GBBO’s (The Great British Bake Off) vegan week (who knew that Channel 4 had become so political?), it’s a sign that we should make a change. But for those of us struggling to fit in sleeping between supervisions, seminars and studying, how can we possibly make a difference?
"ACT NOW IDIOTS", as Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace put it, is what scientists wish they could say, but can’t. Instead the IPCC have used maths and science to create a 33-page summary, detailing pretty much that. New research shows that we will have exceeded the 1.5◦C planet safety buffer as soon as 2030. After this, we are severely risking the planet’s liveability.
Sir David Attenborough "helped stir the consciousness of people around the world" with the Blue Planet Effect and humanity didn’t disappoint. Plastic bags are chargeable, and straws are on their way out. So, let’s keep the ball rolling. Here are 4 more easy things we can all do in Cambridge. And the good news is, we’ve already nailed number 1.
Scientists say that we need to cut our global emissions of CO2 by 45 per cent before 2030. So next time you pass a livid Land Rover stuck in traffic on your bike, you can smile sweetly, safe in the knowledge that not only are you getting a toned body a la Geraint Thomas, you’re making the planet a better place (and also, you aren’t the idiot driving a farmyard vehicle in an inner city area).
Reusing and recycling
To complete your holier than thou, carbon free, Cambridge look, a reusable mug and water bottle are a must. They avoid unnecessary waste, thus cutting out the whole coal-powered plastic problem. And who doesn't love a discount in a coffee shop from simply using your own cup? For any items that do need to be binned then seek out specific recycling bins around uni and town rather than sending everything to landfill. Currently, of the 49,000 tonnes Cambridge city generates of household waste a year, only 11,000 is currently being recycled. Not ideal.
Fancy diets have previously been seen as a luxury for the rich. The choice to supplement your diet with expensive and exotic dishes is just not accessible for the everyday student. But nowadays, just type #vegan into Instagram and you’ll get more arty pics than the Tate Modern (over 67 million of them in fact!) Everyone seems to be snapping their spirulina salad and sautéed soya sausage substitutes. Personally, I think cauliflower chicken wings may be taking things a step too far, but there is something to be said for ditching the meat a couple of times a week. For those of us who have become involuntary student flexitarians due to the rising cost of beef, now we have the perfect excuse: we aren’t skint, we are selfless.
We all know that the fashion industry is notoriously bad for our planet. With Primark’s child labour headlines and Vogue’s fur coat fashion faux pas, the headlines are hard to ignore. But, what is the alternative? For those of us living loan to loan, a mycelium leather jacket made from mushroom leather may be a little out of our reach. Cambridge is full of charity and vintage shops, which are ideal for replenishing a tired wardrobe without taxing the environment. Trust me: nothing gets you friends quicker than the sentence “oh, this? It was a bargain!” well, except “this dress has pockets!” but that’s a given.
So, as the world falls apart like a GBBO vegan cake, I’m going to attempt these four eco steps . Perhaps I won’t be a mushroom wearing, flexitarian, eco warrior student but I’m going to give it a go. And if I do turn up at my local alternative Cambridge coffee house for a soya milk frappuccino, mug in hand, at least I’ll get 50p off.