How To: be a more environment-conscious student

Typically younger, students are often made aware of the impact climate change will have in our lifetimes – scary statistics about our environment are everywhere. For example, the arctic sea could be ice-free as early as 2050! We are, on the whole, an environmentally conscious group of people, but we can always do more:

 

  1. Bulk buy some things, but not everything - You’ve heard it before – bulk buying is the cheapest way to buy food. And whilst with dry foods like pasta, rice, pulses this is true and a more environmentally friendly option (one large plastic package rather than lots of smaller ones), for fresh foods, bulk buying is not a good idea. It takes up space in the fridge, is often packaged in a huge excess of plastic and doesn’t keep, meaning you will be contributing to the £13 billion worth of food thrown away in the UK each year. Not to mention the unnecessary impact this wasted food will have had on the environment – precious energy, fuel and water which all contribute to climate change. 
  2. Recycle – This seems an obvious one, but I have been shocked at how students will throw away a recyclable package simply because it’s a slightly easier option. Yoghurt pots for example, which need to be rinsed before being recycled, are often thrown in the ‘general waste’ instead of being washed and recycled. The easiest way to clean them is to soak them in hot water – minimal effort, reducing landfill waste and preventing your bin from smelling of gone-off yoghurt!
  3. Reduce your meat consumption – I am a vegetarian and have been for many years, and whilst its pleasing to see so many students making the leap from meat-eater to veggie, plenty of students still eat a large amount of meat with very little knowledge of how bad it is for the environment. The water footprint of 1kg of beef is over 15,000 litres – approximately 10x higher than that of vegetarian beef alternatives, such as mycoprotein mince. The carbon footprint of vegetarian meat alternatives is also 90-95% lower than that of beef. Not to mention the health benefits of going veggie (or even just having a meat free day here and there) – vegetarians are 25% less likely to die of heart disease than meat-eaters. 
  4. Buy less clothes – Fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry; 10% of the world’s global carbon emissions are generated by the textiles industry.  So, try to hop off the trend bandwagons by unfollowing fashion ‘influencers’, who endorse fast fashion brands without a care for the damage to the environment which they promote. Upcycle your old clothes, go charity shopping, swap with friends – you’ll find hidden gems and have a unique wardrobe of items you couldn’t find on the high street. If you need more motivation to curb your shopping addiction, think of the money you’ll save which can be spent on experiences instead of an outfit you wear once and then shove to the back of your wardrobe. 

 

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/10/uk-throwing-away-13b...

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-foo...

https://www.quorn.co.uk/sustainable-nutrition

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian

http://www.neighbourhood.tv/the-fashion-industry-is-the-worlds-second-mo...

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/arctic-sea-could-be-ice-f...