How To Live Sustainably as a Student

How To Live Sustainably as a Student
Photo by Unseen Studio / Unsplash

Congratulations! You are either starting a new chapter by going to university or returning! Either way, it is an exciting chapter in your life. University is a time for new opportunities, new learning, new friends, new memories and partying (though that was never me). I lived away from home for three years while I studied at university. It was a massive awakening, but it gave me a chance to gain independence. I enjoyed exploring the campus, cooking and meeting new people.

I went to university with the environment as something I cherish. While my passion has undoubtedly grown, I wanted to play my part and go as green as possible. As a student, whether you live on the university campus (which I did), private with a landlord or elsewhere, we can all make simple, low-cost changes to support the environment.

How to help the environment:

Everyone can help the environment, there is no degree (pun intended), and it starts by implementing new habits in your life. It takes little effort to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. If you wonder why sustainability is essential, this blog may be helpful. These tips are designed to support students as I once was to have a green impact without affecting the bank balance.

Try and avoid plastic wrapped goods

Zero waste shops are great, and I was fortunate that two were close to the university I was studying at. They had lots of bespoke goods and supported the local economy more than supermarkets. If you can help them, that is great! Many supermarkets are reducing the plastic wrap in fruit and vegetables. Apples, bananas, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes can all be purchased loose. Bring your favourite cotton bag or use a paper bag if the premise has them.

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Play smart with your shopping

Living at university meant we had to share a fridge with seven others. It meant I had half a fridge shelf to myself, though I was fortunate that the number dropped to 5 over the year. However, I had to work smart with my space, so I planned my meals. I wanted to minimise waste (saving money) and maximise what I could make with what I bought (utilising money).

Using the freezer

The freezer is a great kitchen gadget. I had long days of studying, especially regarding my dissertation in the third year. Sometimes I did not want to cook from scratch so I would take things from the freezer. Freezing also allows batch cooking, making multiple food portions in one go.

Fix your room

If a tap is leaking, try and get it fixed as possible. Taps that leak waste water and can cause an annoying drip sound. Save your ears and the environment by contacting the university or your landlord depending on where you live.

Air or line dry clothes

My first and second years at university did not have a washing machine in our accommodation. We had to use a central place to wash clothes with about 20 washing machines. It was dismal. When I moved into my 3rd-year accommodation, I washed clothes when others were not, often early in the morning or late at night. I had an airer in my room where I would dry my clothes, though outside is even better so your clothes can dry using the wind.

Reusables

Reusable cups, bottles and cutlery all minimise universities' disposable culture of eating outlets. Some outlets may have metal cutlery you could borrow from the cafeteria and return. I wrote a blog post about what I carry when I am on the go; this collection of items started while I was at university.

Transportation

Consider your impact on getting to the campus. I was fortunate I could walk because I live on campus. However, biking and public transport are viable options if available. As you make friends with people on your course, see if you can car share with them or create your own.