How students can help save the world and their pennies
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As a student, it can seem difficult and frustrating to find effortless, affordable ways of fighting against climate change. However there are many simple lifestyle changes which are easy to adopt, even as a student. Split the Bills, a company that helps house sharers split service bills such as gas and electricity recently let us in on how you can save money AND be an eco-friendly student. What more could you want?!
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Rosie Saban, media and campaigns officer at Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), said: “The best and easiest things that students can do to help the environment are all free. There is no planet B, so everyone needs to play their part.”
It is as simple as turning off the lights, avoiding using your heating until you really need it and only having it on when you are in the house. Quick fixes such as wearing more clothes, using rugs and thicker curtains to insulate houses and not forgetting your uni best friend - the trusty dressing gown. Also, try not to use the drier and do group washes at 30 degrees. All these simple switches in habit will reduce your bills.
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Yes, we know this one involves a little bit more effort... bin duty is the dreaded chore in shared housing. However, from the beginning make designated boxes in the kitchen for recycling glass, paper, cans and plastic, and leave a signpost on your fridge for when the recycling is collected. It’s said that if everyone in the UK recycled 10% more paper, it would save around five trees each year. It's a case of just not being lazy.
Even doing something as simple as buying a resuable water bottle will quickly deplete the amount of recycling your household generates.
Use less plastic
This means more than stopping the purchase of pointless straws for your pre drinks. Research shows that only a shocking 9% of all original plastic waste has been recycled. It is better if you try and avoid accumulating plastic waste in the first place. Try to buy products in bulk with your flat mates as there is less packaging, refuse plastic bags in shops, and opt for products with less plastic such as local produce markets which often have no plastic.
Choose second hand over fast fashion
The cheap high street clothing that we are all guilty of consuming is part of an extremely damaging industry. Research shows that the total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production amounts to 1.2 billion tons each year. Second hand stores, charity shops and vintage fayres always have great bargains!
It is easier said than done, however if you make a real effort you could even rid yourself of your costly gym membership and expensive Uber bill due to all the seemingly effortless exercise . If you only vow to walk to campus, town or work next time, you can't cut your carbon emissions. It is a simple and free way to help the environment and get fit, all free of cost. You could even invest in a bicycle if the distances by foot aren't quite feasible.
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Get involved in student activism
Students in force can have a powerful voice, both as a lobby group in influencing big brands as a consumer, but also in the community of a university. Student groups and sustainability incentives, such as societies like People and Planet etc. have had success on campuses across the country in reducing and removing unsustainable practices. It is free or often a small amount to join and a constructive use of your time which can add experience to your CV, all whilst spreading awareness of the environment.
Invest in smart products
A reusable water bottle, water filter and canvas bags can dramatically reduce waste and plastic single use waste. Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year, which translates to around 150 bags annually per person. Therefore if every student used a canvas bag for their shopping instead of plastic they could pave the way for the future, while saving on the costs of the bags.
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Change your diet
Eat local and reduce meat and fish intake. Not everyone can change their diet to complete veganism or vegetarianism. However, reducing your meat and dairy consumption and treating it more as a novelty can reduce your carbon emission,while saving you money. A study by PETA highlights that a vegetarian diet is 50% less carbon emissions and a vegan diet 99% less. It can be cheaper too! However, if you can't go without your meat try sourcing your products from local shops as opposed to mass produced supermarkets.
Thinking costs you nothing, before doing anything think briefly about the impact and effects on the environment that your actions have. Do you need to print those notes off? Do you need to buy fruit salads in plastic boxes? Do you need the heating on all night when you are sleeping?
Rosie stresses that "Young people need to be the change they want to see.” and in reality, there is little excuse as to why we all can't adopt some of these practices into our daily routine.
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