When you’re a student, sustainability may not be your priority. You have a lot to balance, such as a social life, academia, part-time jobs, dealing with moving away from home, and so on. On top of that, your finances may be at their lowest point ever. So, it is understandable that you don't always think about sustainable practices and just try to get by day to day.
However, if you are looking for ways to be more sustainable, Sustainability for Students has come up with a list of small, easy changes you can make that may ultimately make a big difference. These are small changes you can make in your daily routine that will reduce your carbon footprint more than you think!
1. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
Now, this is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to help the environment. With a reusable bottle, you can prevent the use of around 150 single-use plastic bottles every year. This will reduce plastic bottle waste in landfills, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Making this change could save you thousands throughout your lifetime, as reusable water bottles are available for as little as £3. Moreover, reusable bottles are available in a variety of colours, sizes, and patterns, making them fashionable and environmentally friendly!
2. DONATE CLOTHES YOU DON’T WEAR
One thing I’ve noticed since moving to university is that throwaway culture is at an all-time high. Despite being guilty of participating in throwaway culture myself, I have come to be more aware of its impact on the environment and I am trying to change my habits. The tendency to buy cheap, fast-fashion outfits you use for one night out and never touch again/ bin after one wear, is very common at university.
When you donate your clothes, you are helping the environment because all the water and energy used to create the clothing will not simply be wasted. Moreover, the longer used clothing is in circulation, the less clothing will be produced and discarded at landfills. We do not like landfills. This is a free, easy practice you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint.
However, when donating your clothes, you should be cautious about the recipients. The reason is that certain charities dispose of clothing that is not in perfect condition, which contributes to landfill expansion. It has been argued that charity shops have often become dumping grounds - while in 2013, the UK exported over £380 million worth of discarded fashion to overseas - much of which was donated to charity shops. Alternative options include selling your clothes through apps like Depop and Vinted, or swapping clothes with your friends.
3. DITCH PLASTIC BAGS
It can take anywhere from 15 years to a massive 1,000 years for plastic bags to decompose, making them one of the most destructive types of waste. So, make it a habit of taking reusable shopping bags to your big shops! Using these saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. This is due to the fact that plastic bags do not decompose completely but rather photodegrade to become microplastics, which absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. Consequently, dumping them is a great way to be eco-friendly.
Suppose you live in a shared apartment with about 5 or 6 other people. If each of you buys a reusable shopping bag (numerous shops sell them), you'll have a decent pile that everyone can use. Preventing you from purchasing a bag every single time you go shopping. Therefore, making it an extremely cost-effective change you can apply to your student life!
A number of big retailers, including Aldi, Asda, Co-Op, Tesco, and many more, allow you to recycle your unwanted plastic bags that you have accumulated over the years. So, the next time you go shopping, bring plastic bags along to recycle!
4. EAT MORE VEGGIE MEALS
It is scientifically proven that cutting down on both meat and dairy is a guaranteed way to be more environmentally friendly. People may not want to switch fully to a plant-based diet but eating vegan just ONE day per week will save approximately 40 pounds of grain, 1100 gallons of water, and one animal. Simply by having one vegan day a week.
It is almost impossible to find a meat-based meal that cannot be prepared as a vegetarian or vegan option in this day and age. It is very easy to find plant-based recipes online that are easy to make if you do not know where to start. However, if you fancy eating out most restaurants nowadays feature eco-friendly options on their menus – so you don’t have to worry!
5. USING DIGITAL TRANSPORT TICKETS
The majority of people who attend university tend to travel vast distances, including me. One way to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling is to purchase e-tickets. In purchasing digital tickets, you reduce both paper waste and the amount of time and hassle involved in travelling.
6. MAKEUP LOVERS, SWITCH TO REUSABLE MAKEUP PADS.
Your skin will thank you for this one.
By switching to reusable makeup remover pads, you are significantly reducing waste. Think about how many single-use cotton pads it takes to clean an entire face of makeup! You have one for your eyes, one for your base, one for the immense eyeliner smudges…you get the point.
In addition to reducing waste, you are also saving money. This is very important when you are a student, as finances can be very tight at times! With reusable makeup pads, you only have to buy them once and replace them after approximately 1,000 washes. As a result, they last much longer than single-use pads! Did you know that if you use two cotton pads per day, that amounts to 730 cotton pads used each year that end up in the garbage? How crazy is that!
Not only will the planet be grateful for the reduction in waste, but so will your bank account!
7. BE MORE WATER CONSCIOUS
Student life makes it easy to forget how important water conservation is. Studies indicate a global demand for water will exceed supply by 40% by 2030. However, being more water conscious is quite easy when you’re a student. Simply turning off the water when you brush your teeth can make a big difference, as can cutting down on the amount of time spent in the shower and only doing laundry/dishes when it’s a full load. These easy, low-effort habits will help save significant amounts of water every day!
8. CLEAR OUT YOUR INBOX
When you are a student, it is very rare that your inbox is empty. You receive many emails from numerous people, and we often don't realise the effects of storing countless emails - we get it. Spam, unread and unwanted emails all contribute to carbon emissions - every single inbox in the world is stored on a server and the quantity of data derived from that requires gigantic centres with millions of computers transmitting information, consuming energy 24 hours a day and requiring massive amounts of water and air conditioning systems for cooling. According to Mike Berners-Lee, every spam email releases an estimated 0.3 grams of CO2. By unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters and deleting irrelevant emails, you can lower your carbon footprint. Get into the habit of clearing out your inbox frequently and stop subscribing to unnecessary newsletters.