As the new academic year gets closer, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks on how to live a more sustainable student life.
The sustainable student essentials
In the run-up to starting university, you will undoubtedly be bombarded with a range of so-called student essential checklists. But the truth is these lists encourage overbuying and can often lead to you and your flatmates bringing duplicates you don’t need.
To avoid this first find out through your university what appliances and items are provided in your new accommodation and on campus. This will help you come up with your own list of essentials and reduce any wasteful buying.
Some sustainable essentials to consider buying before getting to campus, of course, include reusable items to reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Investing in a good reusable cup and cutlery can help you reduce your use of single-use plastics when getting a coffee at your university library or getting lunch on campus. Many sustainable brands offer these in a range of stylish colours and are often conveniently designed to take up minimal space in your bag!
Reusable bags are another great sustainable essential, especially for students. Whether you are using them for your food shop or to take back the many library books you will inevitably need to borrow, reusable bags are definitely a sustainable student essential that we guarantee you will use every day.
When buying your student essentials make sure to look out for sustainable and ethical options via sustainable homeware brands and sustainable marketplaces. Marketplaces like Wearth London offer a wide range of products from bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste beauty and are a great place to source some sustainable essentials!
From buying brand new textbooks to printing excessive amounts of articles and research, your studying habits can be unsustainable. Instead, why not borrow your books from the university library or check out a secondhand bookstore, like World of Books. Many universities also have a range of Facebook groups dedicated to older and past students selling their used textbooks and course books often for a discounted price!
Another way to ensure that your studying is more sustainable is reducing the amount of paper you use. Although it is important to be aware of your own digital carbon footprint, making the switch to digital notes and accessing articles online can reduce paper waste significantly.
Green search engines like Ecosia are a great way to search the internet in a more sustainable way. The eco-friendly browser uses a portion of its profits to fight deforestation and plants trees all over the world. To date, Ecosia has planted over 105 million trees worldwide.
Reducing food waste
An estimated 4.5 million tonnes a year of edible food is thrown away across UK households. Reducing your own food waste is a great way of being a more mindful and sustainable student.
Shopping locally from markets and zero waste stores can also reduce how much waste you produce. Zero-waste stores allow customers to purchase a variety of produce without the unnecessary packaging seen in supermarkets. Simply bring your own containers and purchase your essentials by weight!
Not a zero-waste store near your university? Local markets are another great place to get fresh, seasonal produce without the plastic packaging and with a much smaller carbon footprint. Just remember your reusable bags!
Considering a change of diet is another way to reduce your carbon footprint. Universities like Goldsmiths University of London have removed beef from their campuses as part of their commitment to tackling climate change.
But a change of diet doesn’t have to be drastic. There are many diets to choose from that can help you make the move to a more sustainable and ethical student lifestyle, from being an ethical omnivore to a flexitarian!
Walk or cycle
Walking or cycling around campus and your university city reduces your carbon footprint and can save you some money too. This can also be the perfect way to explore your new home with friends!
Students can also often receive discounts on public transport passes and tickets. Why not use your student discount to take public transport around campus, to your university city centre to reduce your carbon footprint. This is also an effective and more sustainable way to travel home too!
Collating a sustainable student wardrobe
Finding local charity shops and vintage stores in your university city or town can be a great way of finding new fashion treasures and exploring your new home sustainably. It’s also a great way to get your friends involved too!
Looking after your wardrobe is also a key part in maintaining a sustainable and long-lasting wardrobe. It may sound simple but making sure you follow the washing instructions on your favourite tops and jumpers can ensure that your fashion favourites last for years to come.
Give upcycling a go! Upcycling trends like patchwork and thrift flips have been incredibly popular across fashion weeks to TikTok. It’s not only a great way to give your wardrobe a new lease of life but can also be a fun new skill to learn!
Recycling your preloved garments is another essential. A massive £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year. Selling your clothes online through sites like Depop, giving clothes to local charity shops or even swapping with your new university friends are just some of the ways you can responsibly recycle or rehome your clothes.
Remember the most sustainable options are the ones already in your wardrobe!
Join a green society or club!
As well as the studies, one of my personal favourite parts of university was the wide range of societies and clubs available across campus. If you are wanting to learn more about sustainability, wanting to get involved in green initiatives in the local community or just want to meet some likeminded friends, each university has an array of sustainable or green societies to join.
As well as societies, a number of universities around the world are part of the not-for-profit international campaign, Student Switch Off. This includes a number of competitions encouraging energy-saving, water-saving and recycling in student accommodations. Find out if your university is a part of the campaign and encourage your flatmates to get involved in these sustainable initiatives too!
We hope that this sustainable student guide is a helpful starting point for any of you making the move to university, or just wanting to become a bit more mindful of the environment! Making these small changes to your everyday student routine and lifestyle can make a positive impact on your carbon footprint.
Let us know in the comments below what you are most looking forward to this academic year!