This Friday is gearing up to be the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history – and it all started with students, who a year ago began walking out of their classrooms to demand more be done to stop the global warming that darkens their futures.
While on a grand scale, the younger generation is the driving force behind the call for governments and big institutions to act faster on climate change, there is also an increasing desire to make a collective difference to the planet through smaller lifestyle changes.
Student life can be hectic enough with juggling lectures, social life, commuting and any part-time jobs or volunteering. But thankfully, as discussions about climate change, plastic waste and living sustainably are forced more into mainstream, it’s becoming much easier to make simple everyday changes.
Here we round up our top 10 ways to be a more sustainable student.
1. Take a reusable cup
Nothing gets you through a 9am lecture like grabbing a takeaway coffee on the way there. But did you know that the UK throws away around 2.5 billion disposable cups a year? Instead of contributing to that number, invest in a reusable cup to put your hot drink in. You often get a discount from cafes for bringing your own cup, so its win win!
2. Watch your water use
Studies show that demand for water globally is set to exceed supply 40 per cent by 2030. Make sure you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and try to shorten your time in the shower.
3. Wear secondhand.
Freshers Weeks and club nights at university mean you’ll want to grab a new outfit to impress, but buying clothes secondhand is a lot better for the environment. Have fun searching for secondhand and vintage fashion in local charity shops. If charity shops aren’t your thing, try downloading DEPOP where you’ll find ‘preloved’ clothing and accessories.
4. Stop using plastic bags.
Ditch the plastic by remembering to take reusable bags with you when you do the food shopping.
5. Eat more veggie meals.
Scientists say that cutting down on meat and dairy is one of the most effective ways to help the planet. With veganism now going more mainstream, and many fast food outlets offering vegan or vegetarian options, it’s now much easier to avoid choosing meat.
6. Buy digital transport tickets.
Using phone apps such as Trainline, mTickets for First buses, the Stagecoach Bus App or GetMeThere you can not only reduce your waste and the amount of crumpled up tickets sitting in your coat pocket but also buy tickets in advance and save yourself time and hassle.
7. Refill your water bottle.
Much like carrying a reusable coffee cup, using a reusable water bottle helps save plastic bottles from going to landfill. You can also use the Refill phone app to find cafes or other locations that let you refill your water bottle for free when you leave campus.
8. Choose cloths instead of face wipes
After classes and studying, it’s tempting to take the easy option and wipe off your makeup with a single-use wipe. However, 93 per cent of blocked UK sewage pipes are caused by wet wipes, and even if you’re sensible enough to not flush them – they still end up in landfill. Investing in a reusable face cloth and cleanser prevents disposable wipes going to landfill.
9. Clear out your emails
Using email prevents paper waste, but storing countless emails actually consumes energy. According to one study, if every single person in France deleted 50 emails, the energy savings would be equivalent to turning the Eiffel Tower’s lights off for 42 years. So, make it a habit to clear out your junk folder every week and delete old emails when you can.
10. Choose an ethical bank
When it comes to your current or savings accounts, choose a bank or financial institution that does something positive with your money. Check out our Good Egg companies, which can all prove they make a positive impact, not just by improving the lives of customers, but by benefiting society and the environment, too.