Every day last month I would open up my social media platforms to devastating images of the Australian bush fires. The pictures of burning woodland and suffering animals left me wondering whether we are doing enough to reduce the profound impact humans are having on the planet.
Climate change is a very complex subject. Scientists have confirmed that a hotter, drier climate would have contributed to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and more intense. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment report, human emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the global warming since 1950 (contributions of above 100% are possible due to a slight cooling affect from the natural climate’s association with volcanoes and solar activity which offsets some of the warming).
A vital part of being a student is being able to make decisions of how to live life. A recent survey conducted by the NUS indicated that 91% of students are now concerned with climate change, so I have put together some ideas on how you can bring sustainability into your lifestyle at University.
- Save electricity by switching off lights, using drying racks rather than a tumble dryer, turning off electronic devices at night, and hand washing clothes.
- Recycle correctly by ensuring that you are aware of what items you can and cannot recycle in your local area and making sure that recyclable goods are cleaned before putting them into the bins.
- Reuse household items such as glass food jars for kitchen storage.
- Compost food waste.
- Avoid commuting by car and utilise public transport or opt for cycling to University.
- Reduce the amount of time you spend taking flights abroad or choose airlines with zero-waste practices.
- Take the stairs over the lift.
- Organise car-sharing and use the carpool option when ordering an uber.
- Buy second-hand clothes from online marketplaces, charity shops, vintage stores, and thrifting warehouses.
- Avoid buying into the fast fashion craze and opt for timeless better-quality clothes that will last.
- Support brands that are ethical and environmentally conscious.
- Repair and revamp old clothes or send them to a charity shop rather than throwing them away.
- Create your own beauty products from natural ingredients.
- Use shampoo and soap bars over bottles of liquid.
- Cut back on single use items and buy reusable face wipes and menstrual cups.
- Take digital notes on your phone, tablet, or computer rather than using paper.
- Collect scrap paper for future use.
- Only print when absolutely necessary and always use double-sided printing.
- Borrow books from the library rather than purchasing them.
Sustainable food consumption
- Buy produce in bulk from your local farmer’s markets.
- Bring your own bags and containers to collect food in.
- Choose food without plastic-wrapping and unnecessary packaging.
- Eat more whole foods, reduce meat and dairy consumption, and source ethical/organic produce.
- Prepare your own snacks and lunches rather than buying them at University.
- Carry your own reusable drinks bottle, flask, cutlery, and straws as opposed to using single use items.
- Grow your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs.
- Save gift wrapping and boxes for the future.
- Donate to charity instead of giving a gift.
- Get creative and make a thoughtful present, bake your own celebration cake, and design your own card.
- Recycle or trade in old devices when you are ready to dispose of them.
- Switch to online computing storage rather than physical hard drives and storage devices.
- Buy second hand or energy-efficient technology.
- Repair broken devices rather than buying a new replacement.
- Choose to use renewable energy sources where possible.
- Enjoy time outdoors.
- Read magazines and newspapers online rather than purchasing a paper copy.
I challenge you to take at least 5 things from the above list and implement them into your daily activities. Every small change we can make to live more sustainably is one step towards a healthier and happier planet. Individual actions matter, as they demonstrate commitment and provide an alternative to how we can live. Choose to live with the future of our world in mind.
Happy Sustainable Studenting!