With the world facing a global warming crisis, the environment needs all the help it can get. The rising temperatures are driving environmental degradation, natural disasters, weather extremes, along with food and water insecurity. In addition, the sea levels are rising, the Arctic is melting, coral reefs are dying, oceans are acidifying, and forests are burning.
It is evident that carrying on with everyday life, as usual, is not good enough and now is a time for bold collective action. One of the best places for these everyday changes is at centres of educational excellence – such as universities. With a few simple changes to your student lifestyle, you could make an impact and even save some money.
Below we will highlight a few simple steps to help your time as a student be eco-friendly. The time spent in formal education can be used to improve yourself and the environment. These lessons learnt can then continue throughout your life to make a real difference in your professional field and your environmental responsibility as a member of society.
Enjoy Clean Tap Water
Even though we are lucky enough to have access to clean drinking water from the tap in the UK, some people choose to buy bottled water. Budgeting is a big part of everyday life for most students, and bottled water is actually 500 times more expensive than tap water. It is the equivalent of paying around £1,500 for a pint of beer.
Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a BPA-free bottle for life. You can easily carry it with you when out and about, plus many university campuses have free water dispensers so you can fill it up when out and about.
If you enjoy a soft drink, try to cut down on the amount you consume as they are pricey and have a high carbon footprint. Drinking water is also better for you as it helps keep you hydrated, healthier – all of which will benefit your university studies.
Lower Your Carbon Footprint
You can reduce your carbon footprint with just a few minor changes to your behaviour. By simply switching off lights and electrical equipment, you can lower your power usage. The same goes for your heating. It is incredible just how much sunlight can warm up a room, so if the sun is out and you have windows, open up the curtains to heat your space or close them when it is too hot. Also, try to keep electric lights off when there is enough natural light available to work by.
Another great way to get your carbon footprint down is to get your power from renewable energy sources. Many electric companies have renewable power options, but you have to ask them for details and to switch you over to a greener plan. Running your laptop off a green energy source is much better than relying on fossil fuels to power your studies.
Be Aware Of Your Rubbish
The majority of universities and local authorities make recycling facilities readily available. Nowadays, you would be going out of your way not to recycle – but with that said, we should all be aiming to reduce our overall waste. This can be achievable through having some thought before buying and disposing of goods.
If you have some items to get rid of, why not look to sell them instead of taking them to the tip or even throwing them away into general waste. There are plenty of people out there looking to buy second hand. In addition, why spend extra on new things when there are plenty of used treasures out there to be reused and loved. When buying second hand from sites like eBay, Freecycle, and Gumtree, you protect the environment and save money.
A bit of thought should also go into food waste. It has been found that by keeping your meal portions small, you become more aware of how much food you actually need. This will mean that your eating habits will become healthier, but you will also reduce food waste. The average person wastes around £200 of food each year.
Change Your Transport Habits
There are now many green travel options to get to and from your lectures at university. If you live close to or on campus, take your bike for a ride or walk there. In case you live a little further away, try to take public transport instead of driving there.
By cycling or walking just once a week, you can make a significant difference in reducing emissions and saving on your travel costs. If you like a gadget, invest in a pedometer to track your steps. Studies have found that people walk on average an additional mile per day when tracking their steps.
It has been found that living more sustainably often leads to a healthier lifestyle. By adopting some of the above tips, you will be benefiting the planet and your health. We might be in the middle of a climate change crisis, but that does not mean that the everyday environmentally aware actions we make are not making a difference. So take the time at university to become a more sustainable individual and help make the world a better place.