How To Live More Sustainably As A University Student
Finding ways to live more sustainably is important for people across all walks of life but, arguably, more so for the younger generations who will feel the impact of climate change more than most.
With that in mind, one key demographic that could do more protect our planet and their futures are students.
Universities will be reopening their campuses in just a few days and, as hundreds of thousands of students across the UK prepare to return to (or start) university, we thought that we would share some ways in which they can live more sustainably over the next one, two, three or more years.
Student lifestyles tend to be busy between juggling studies, classes, part-time jobs, a social life and the day to day chores that come with living alone – it can be easy to take the easiest or quickest route to get things done which is why its not always the most sustainable lifestyle.
Here are some simple things you can do to implement more eco-friendly and ethical habits into everyday student living.
Utilise library resources to reduce paper waste
University libraries aren't just there for a quiet change of scenery when studying. They provide a very clear service; giving students access to hundreds of thousands of books for free or a small charge if hiring the book out for a period of time.
It can be a huge cost saver for students who are already on a tight budget and it massively saves on space in your room too.
But, above all, it cuts down on consumerism and reduces the number of books that end up being thrown away when you no longer have a use for them.
Buy used books to support the circular economy
Although university libraries should always be the first point of call, they aren't always the most convenient option. With a limited number of copies of each book, there is a chance that the one needed for your course is already being hired out or they might not even have a copy of what you need at all so you cannot always rely on this resource.
In these cases, buying used or second-hand books is your next best bet.
Books can often be one of the biggest expenses for students costing, on average, between £300 - £500 a year so not only will buying pre-loved books reduce this cost but it will contribute to the circular economy too.
When you buy a book from someone who has already read it, it's following a very similar process to recycling in that instead of being thrown in the bin and ending up in landfill, the life of the book is being extended and given a new home.
Donate or sell what you no longer need to keep things out of landfills
Whether you have finished using a book that you bought for your course or the outfit that you purchased for your birthday is unlikely to be worn again, instead of throwing these items away and sentencing them to a life on a landfill site, try donating some of your unwanted, but still usable, goodies instead.
There are countless charity shops that are more than happy to sell on your items with little effort on your end at all. Alternatively, if you have some time and are willing to put in the effort, there are many reseller websites/apps available for you to sell these yourself and make a small profit.
It can be a great way to save the planet and make a little extra cash to pay for those student living expenses.
Reduce food waste by being more conscious of how you shop
Research shows that young people aged 18-34 waste proportionally more food than other age groups with students making up a large chunk of that demographic.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why this is the case. It's possibly down to a number of things such as house parties being thrown where food ends up in the bin or a lack of smart shopping so groceries expire before they have the chance to get eaten and end up having to be tossed.
One of the easiest things students can do to prevent this is to be more considerate when shopping and preparing food. This means checking labels for expiration dates, planning your meals week by week and only buying what is needed.
If this still fails and you find yourself with leftover food at the end of a party or a meal then why not freeze what you can, offer some to neighbours or look for a food bank to drop it off to.
Create a sustainable wardrobe
Students are one of the biggest consumers when it comes to the fashion industry particularly within the high street. Not only is this encouraged with student discounts available at almost every major outlet, but the pressure that comes with looking your best whether on campus or at the club often means that you may find yourself shopping for new outfits every other week.
The very nature of frivolous shopping such as this is completely unsustainable so the first thing that you should do to tackle it is cut down on the amount of clothing you buy throughout the year.
When you do need to buy a new pair of jeans or trainers, you should take care to shop with more sustainable brands that use eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices.
Finally, in creating a sustainable wardrobe it is also important to consider the lifespan of your items of clothing. If you are buying more sustainable pieces then they should be of a higher quality which will automatically increase their longevity but, inevitably, things happen.
You could spill a drink on your shirt or rip a hole in your trousers, trends and personal styles change over time and your weight could go up or down which means certain items no longer fit. Before you head straight for the bin you should consider your options.
Of course, stains can usually be cleaned and tears can often be stitched back up allowing you to hold onto your favourite items for longer but when the issue is beyond repair you could donate/resell, gift to a friend or roommate, repurpose the item or check if the materials allow for you to recycle the clothing.
Purchase reusable products over single-use ones
Single-use plastic products are one of the biggest causes of plastic pollution in the world yet it is such an avoidable problem with so many alternatives on the market.
For example, refillable coffee cups instead of the disposable ones that you get with your coffee-to-go or reusable cotton shopping bags as opposed the plastic ones that you now have to pay for at the till.
We stock a wide range of reusable, eco-friendly products, including bags and coffee cups, at affordable prices that are perfect for students who want to live more sustainably.
All of our items are ethically sourced using sustainable materials and accredited factories in the Far East with quality and durability being delivered on every product.