Artist Peter Smith created a globe out of PET litter found on the streets of AmsterdamFaceMePLS

I hate New Year’s resolutions. Partly because I’m so bad at them. Until this year, I don’t think I’ve managed to keep a single one, which is almost impressive when you consider I’ve made variants of the same resolution – to lose weight – ever since my well-meaning, but utterly oblivious, primary school teacher told me that she was trying to drop a dress size for her wedding and ‘wished she would catch’ what I’d had (I’d recently returned to school after weeks off sick with an eating disorder). But this year, instead of resolving to give up carbs or chocolate or rosé, I’ve vowed to give up using unnecessary plastic – and four months in, I’m still going strong. Cheers to that.

I haven’t used a disposable straw since 2017

Being environmentally friendly at Cambridge can seem an imposing task. If you’re anything like me, who cringes at the sight of a bin overflowing with plastic cups at the end of pres, it’s easy to think that no one person can do anything to mitigate the environmental crisis. But tackling the effects of our collectively horrendous plastic consumption needn’t be synonymous with a lifestyle overhaul. I may have permanently suspended all my plans to get a summer body (does this mean I should expect to be nothing but a floating head between the months of May and September?) but I haven’t used a disposable straw since 2017 – and it’s small acts like this which make more difference than we realise.

Ecosia: By switching your search engine to Ecosia, you can turn your procrastinating Internet binges into something productive – for the planet, if not for your exams. CO2-neutral and financially transparent, Ecosia donates 80% of its surplus income to conservationists, with most of the money from its sponsored links going towards planting trees. At the time of writing, Ecosia searches have raised enough money to plant almost 26.5 million trees – a figure so impressive that I’m prepared to forgive the fact that they’re powered by Bing.

Reusable straws: Theresa May’s recent proposal to ban cotton buds and plastic straws is perhaps the happiest she’s made me since the influx of wheat field memes last year. Being ‘that’ person at a bar (and by bar, I mean Spoons – I’m not made of money) who asks for a vodka lemonade without a straw may seem marginally awkward at first, but producing your own metal straw from your bag is an instant conversation starter if nothing else. And with 500 million straws being used every day in America alone, a tiny bit of social awkwardness seems a small price to pay.


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Makeup remover cloths: As someone whose idea of a make-up free day is wearing tinted moisturiser as opposed to foundation, I used to get through enough cotton wool pads in a week to stuff a small mattress. Looking into more sustainable alternatives, I tried the self-proclaimed ‘magic’ makeup remover by AfterSpa, a reusable, machine-washable cloth which wipes away even waterproof makeup with nothing but warm water. I was a bit sceptical at first – not least because I’d like to believe that all the waterproof mascaras I’ve been buying over the years were, you know, actually waterproof – but now I’m converted. Multipacks of similar (much cheaper) cloths are available on Amazon for as little as a £1.26, making them a lot more economical than cotton wool pads in the long run.

Reusable water bottles: I’ll admit now that until this year, my best guess for the meaning behind the acronym BPA was ‘bad plastic – argh!’. (It’s actually Bisphenol A, if you’re as clueless as me). Having your own metal water bottle, free from the BPA which makes up commercial plastic bottles, is as beneficial for you as it is for the environment – especially in exam term when keeping hydrated is more important than ever. There’s absolutely no need to get one of the water bottles sold on Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Goop’, which sells bottles made with quartz crystals to ‘infuse water with positive energy’ for a mere £80; Typo in the Grand Arcade sells a metal alternative for a far more reasonable £12.

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