HOW TO BE A SUSTAINABLE STUDENT

20 Nov 2019 | Student Advice

With the Extinction Rebellion protests and Greta Thunberg’s inspiring activism appearing at the forefront of recent national news, there have there has never been a more prevalent time to focus on our personal carbon footprint.

As budgeting students, the misconceptions about the cost of sustainability circle the idea of having to buy new things. It is much cheaper to buy plastic toothbrushes and bottles of shower necessities than the zero-waste bamboo and shampoo bars, but sustainability mostly works hand-in-hand with saving money. It’s not about replacing every item but making use of what we have already and doing our bit towards the environment.

Cut down on meat and dairy

This is a tip that we have heard too many times. Meat and dairy-free alternatives tend to be more costly than real meat and dairy products, which can make eating a vegetarian or vegan diet unappealing to students. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives that can actually save you money. Staples such as fruit and vegetables are typically low cost and there are plenty of dishes that can be made with without meat or meat alternatives. If you don’t want to ditch the meat completely try limiting the amount of meat you buy by making bulk dishes for the week. In my second and third year at university, my housemates and bought chicken breasts and made a large curry to last a few days. We found that this was a more cost-efficient method of cutting down meat, whilst not being too diet restrictive.

Cut down on travel costs

If you come to university with a car, be aware of how much money you will be spending when there are cheaper and greener travel alternatives. Teach yourself routes to walk, or use buses in the area, or invest in a bicycle. In a city environment it is easy to forget about your carbon footprint when everybody else isn’t making an effort, but as a student this will also be helpful for your bank account. Share taxis with friends after nights out, or even better, just walk home together.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Small personal actions can make all the difference. Invest in a reusable coffee cup or water bottle and bring a tote bag with you just in case you go shopping. Buying loose fruit and vegetables avoids single-use plastic and is better value for money, as the food is often bigger when sold separately. On the subject of food, make sure you and your housemates are recycling correctly and give any unwanted food to a local food bank. When you go to Uni, ditch the meal deal and bring your own lunch. If you want to get even more involved, consider joining protests to make your voice heard by big corporations and institutions. Even if you only commit to one or two of these tips, you will still be doing your part.

By Rebecca Hodson

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