🌞 Sustainable Living On a Student Budget (Summer Edition) 🌿

Toronto has a lot to offer, and that applies to the domain of sustainable consumption. Here are a few tips for environmentally sustainable living that won't break the bank (and maybe help you save a few bucks)!

Due to COVID-19, many cafes have temporarily suspended the use of reusable tableware. Fortunately, A-OK Cafe on Bloor and Yonge (steps away from the St. George campus) will offer your drink and pastry in porcelain cups and plates if you tell them your food is 'for here.' This cafe also offers a 25 cent discount on your drink if you opt-out of a paper cup. And as a bonus, make sure to ask for a stamp card. Each drink earns one stamp, so your tenth drink is free! Also, oat milk is not only a more environmentally-conscious option than dairy, but it is also a free substitute at A-OK. Swing by before or after a day of class at this laptop-free cafe. As much as I like dining here with friends, I also really enjoy reading an issue of the New Yorker here by myself.

A Hong Kong-style milk tea and a chocolate croissant  on a marble tabletop at A-OK Cafe.
A Hong Kong-style milk tea and a chocolate croissant 'to stay' at A-OK Cafe.

Another way to reduce waste is to rent instead of choosing to buy something. If you are an avid outsider, consider contacting the University of Toronto Outdoor Club to take something out from their rental library. From tents to sleeping bags, they have it all. But if you'd rather have something to keep, consider buying second-hand. The MEC on Queen and Spadina has a great repository of used outdoor gear for sale. For general clothing, you can also check out Depop. As both a website and an app, you can sell and buy pre-loved clothing. I started selling some of my clothes last summer (ranging from my graduation dress to more recently a pair of pajama shorts). I have since sold 74 items. It's a great means of passing on what is no longer needed, while making a buck or two for your next coffee run.

An even more environmentally and economically sustainable option would be to revert to bartering. Fortunately, there is an app for that. I use Bunz on a near-daily basis, and I have completed over 600 trades to date (I started using it in my final year of high school). A recent trade is a skort that no longer fit me in exchange for a sheet of domestic postage stamps. On Bunz, you can trade anything from goods (like kitchenware) to services (for instance: proofreading). There is a thriving Toronto-based community on Bunz, lucky for us!

three planters with yellow flowers on a bedside table
Three miniature planters I had traded in from Bunz.

Hopefully this post gives you a couple of new tips and tricks for being environmentally sustainable without breaking the bank! I would love to hear about your tips, so make sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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