Little changes you can make as a student to save the planet

Elizabeth Whittingham·27 September 2018·7 min read
Little changes you can make as a student to save the planet

Climate change is a hot topic at the moment, no pun intended- and whilst our scorching summer was perfect for sitting outside with a few icy Strongbow dark fruits, there was a much more sinister feel to the whole affair. The planet is warming, much quicker that it’s natural rate, and it’s our entire fault.

Although climate change might feel like a distant thought throughout fresher’s week and into the stress of assignments, it’s real and it affects everyone. In a bid to make even a small difference, here are a few tips for things that you can do during your time as a student to help save the planet.

Go Paperless!

Although assignments are almost entirely paperless now, being submitted online via submission portals, universities still get through a staggering amount of paper every single day, a massive cause of deforestation around the world. To fight this, try putting pressure (not in a bad way) on your lecturer, suggesting that they should simply pop the notes up online after the lecture. If you’re a humanities’ student, then try not to print off your notes or readings. It’s pretty simple to just download everything to a PDF to highlight and add comments to the readings. If you do want to make notes during the lecture, bringing your laptop cuts down massively on paper usage!

Go Veggie

Going vegetarian/vegan, or even having just one day a week where you do not purchase or eat meat, can make a massive difference towards the environment. 91 per cent of deforestation is currently happening in the rainforest for the growth of agriculture and mass production of farming and livestock. Your burgers are turning the rainforest into acres of stumps, switching to veg can really help.

Grab a bike

Getting a bike at university is a great way to cut down on your carbon emissions, it’s also super cheap and much more affordable than getting the bus, which, although are better than lots of cars heading to university, are powered by diesel which is a major pollutant. If you’re new to university and don’t have a bike, then there are plenty of ways to pick up one for pennies off sites like Gumtree and Schpock.

Take the mega bus

Yes, this is a bus, and yes it’s powered by diesel, but even if you can do something when it comes to fighting climate change, it’s usually better than doing nothing. Some double decker mega buses can hold over 100 people, meaning that whilst they’re great on your student bank account, their also great on the planet, avoiding nearly 100 cars on the road for one whole journey!

Say no to bottled water

As a hard working student, it’s probably best to have a bottle of water on you at all times, especially when you head to university lectures nursing a hangover. However, buying bottled plastic water all of the time not only eats into your savings, it’s also terrible for the environment. Your best bet is to grab a reusable bottle at the start of the academic year, and to always remember to grab it when you head out the door! Primark are doing some really lovely ones at the moment.

Avoid palm oil

Although for some people, pal oil might not ring a bell, it’s actually in an incredible amount of products all across the world, from meal deals through to toilet cleaner, and it’s having a devastating effect on the environment, with deforestation occurring in the rainforest in an unsustainable manner, 100,000 orangutans have died over the past few years alone. In a bid to fight this, you can head over to the Rain Forest Network site; they have extensive information up on their website here. There is also the ‘Say NO to Palm Oil’ challenge, a task that you can take of be living deforestation free! Check out the link here to view some lovely recipe ideas, all palm oil free, great cosmetic brands and some eco friendly cleaning options.

Water saving devices

As you’ve probably guessed by now, saving the planet usually entails saving money as well. There are plenty of water saving devices online that you can send off for free of charge. Visit the site here to grab devices to place on your taps to halve the water flow, timers to stick in your shower to keep your wash to three minutes, and, my personal fave, a bag which expands when you put it in your toilet cistern, meaning less water is needed to fill it back up again!

Energy saving lightbulbs

This might be tricky if you’ve already moved into your student house or if you’re currently in halls, but if you are planning to go house viewing soon, then make sure that you look out for energy saving lightbulbs. You’ll spot them by their initial dull glow at first which gradually rises, and by their long rectangular shape. Not only are energy saving lightbulbs great for the environment, they’re also kind on your student bank account too, using much less energy than full watt bulbs. Win win!

Don’t rinse your dishes!

Good news for every student out there right now! It’s actually pretty bad for the environment to rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher; it’s also a drain on your water meter as well. Just be a good student and bung them all into the dishwasher and whack it on, yes, it’s using energy, but at least you’ve saved some water by avoiding the pre rinse.

Avoid plastic bags, carry a wheel suitcase etc.

Another money saver, again! Plastic bags have been pulled up to a whopping 10p in some supermarkets, shocking! Oh well, they’re terrible for the environment anyway. A great way to avoid them is to say ‘yes yes yes’ to all of the freebies during fresher’s week, this way you’ll definitely get your hands on some free fabric tote bags. If you have to walk a fair bit to get to your supermarket of choice, then a great method is to take a wheel along suitcase! Yes, it might seem a little odd but it works really well and stops the post-food shop exhaustion, all the while saving the planet.