Want to contribute to the recovery of the environment but not sure how? Here are just a few tips to help you live sustainably at university.
Want to do your bit?
Students are more environmentally conscious now than they ever have been before, which is a great thing. The world is waking up to the danger of climate change, and it has been students who have led the way in transforming the narrative. You don’t need to be old to make a difference — just look at Greta Thurnberg.
In the wake of this ever-growing social consciousness to the overwhelming damage we have done to our environment, more and more students are determined to contribute. Big or small, we can all make changes that reduce the impact we individually have on the climate.
At Stint, we champion student initiatives and activism, so taking responsibility of our own environmental struggle is of paramount importance and. Here are our top 5 tips to making gradual changes that will go a long way.
1. Cut down on meat consumption
We’re all aware of the impact of the animal agriculture market on the environment. As an industry, it stands as one of the greatest contributors of greenhouse gases, leading to increased air and water pollution and subsequently rainforest destruction.
Whilst global warming is the harsh reality of relentless human acceleration, small changes can be made to our lifestyles to collectively slow this process. Cutting out meat and phasing in plant-based produce to our diets is one of many things you can do in order to live more sustainably. Easy plant based products close to campus could include Gregg’s celebrated Vegan Sausage Roll and newly added Vegan Steak Bake. Even better news is that meat is expensive, so cutting down on it will only help save your precious cash.
Even if you aren’t ready to go vegan just yet (although it’s great if you are!), even just being vegetarian a few days a week, or as much as you can possibly face will make a difference.
2. Shop locally to support your local community
Buying from independent businesses will both support your community and contribute to the local economy. It’s also incredibly environmentally friendly, as you’ll be cutting travel costs and emissions in the process. Local corner shops and markets will have their own section of locally grown, organic produce, which are better quality than those found in chain supermarkets (and often slightly more expensive as a result)! If you do opt for local produce try and remember to BYOB (bring your own bags) and cut down on plastic at the same time!
Also consider signing up to a service such as Oddbox, which aims to reduce the overwhelming levels of food waste in the city. They rescue the veg which might not the aesthetic expectations of big supermarket brands but is still just as tasty and delivers them to your door. By subscribing to a small veg box, you can save as much as 3 kgs of C02 emissions and 557 litres of water!
3. Use a reusable bottle or coffee cup
As much as we try to avoid it, coffee eventually becomes a staple in our academic lives. Exams get closer, word counts get longer and our fight against the alluring attraction of sleep gets harder by-the-day. On average, a student drinks at least two coffees a day, which will also rack up painful bills. Whilst the initial shock of buying a reusable coffee cup might exceed what you think is really necessary – this will soon be washed down as you save 50p with every Pret coffee you buy. Even more importantly, it cuts down on needless waste.
Likewise, invest in a proper water bottle. Sorry to be mainstream, but until Stint releases our own branded bottles, we recommend you opt for a Chillys. With an abundance of water points on campus, you’ll never have to spend on water again! And forget about your Vos or Fiji filtered waters, nothing tastes better than saving precious pounds whilst contributing to a worthwhile cause. And if you manage to forget to bring it in and do end up buying a disposable water bottle, make sure to recycle it.
4. Avoid fast fashion
However you engage with fashion, buying sustainably is something we massively recommend. Some big brands often purport to be sustainable when releasing ‘conscious’ lines, however you must consider that the sheer size of their business and quantities of polyester used would suggest otherwise. Be wary of greenwashing and check out where these big companies are sourcing their materials and labour. Advertising can often be misleading as fast fashion relies on the mass production of brand new clothing, so do your digging!
When you can, avoid shopping from low-cost retailers such as Boohoo and Sports Direct. Not only are these clothes rarely produced in accordance with ethical standards, their poor quality means they are unlikely to stand the test of time. Even though spending more on an item might be less appealing, if the clothes last longer it will end up being better value. Furthermore, brands have been known to exploit workers by paying them less than the UK minimum wage.
When shopping for ‘one time use’ items such as Halloween costumes, we urge you to consider buying second hand to avoid excess waste. Depop is a great place to find great items without encouraging more production of clothing and materials. You’ll find a circular economy with a wide range of vintage clothing for a much cheaper price than online shops! Likewise, if you have too many clothes and want to shift some in exchange for some much needed cash, start selling on Depop and the next thing you know someone else will be wearing your discarded items.
If you want to learn more about Depop, check out our episode of The Smart Hustle podcast with Danielle Mass, a recent graduate and verified seller with over 50k followers.
5. Save Energy
The easiest way to save energy is to turn your lights off when you leave your flat or house. It sounds easy enough, but let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty from time to time. There’s no more avoidable waste of energy than leaving for morning lectures and returning at night to find that your lights have been on all day. This also applies to any extra accessory lighting you deck out your room with. No one is going to be there to enjoy the warm glow of your first year lava lamp when you’re out and about – so turn it off!
Other things you can do to avoid energy wastage (and save cash) include taking shorter showers,only putting a dishwasher on when fully loaded and air-drying your clothes, stopping them from shrinking in the process. Likewise, save money and protect the planet by supporting a fellow London start-up, Bulb – who provide affordable, renewably sourced energy in the UK.
Written by Ffion, Student Operations