Social Responsibility

6 ways to live more sustainably as a student

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We get it, being on a tight budget while trying to live sustainably can be a real juggling act. But you can make such a big difference with just a few small changes in your daily habits. From getting to and from campus to eating a plant-based meal, there’s plenty of simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and feel good about helping the planet. 

Check out these 6 simple ways to start living sustainably as a student: 

Travel sustainably: Transportation is a significant source of carbon emissions. Opting for sustainable alternatives like cycling, walking, or using public transit can substantially mitigate your environmental footprint (it also makes you feel good!). One initiative in Manchester is Biko Bikes, a student-led project that promotes cycling, offers affordable bicycle rentals and teaches bike maintenance. You can also hire Beryl Bikes from Bee Network Cycle Hire stations across the city – find out more. 

Reduce plastic waste: Did you know that a single plastic bottle can linger in a landfill for up to 450 years? Now, imagine the positive impact we can make by shunning disposable plastics and opting for reusable alternatives like water bottles, coffee cups and shopping bags. There is a student-run plastic-free shop on campus- Want Not Waste– offering refillable goodies and events like clothes swaps and upcycling workshops. They even offer a recycling scheme for waste that can’t be recycled in your normal recycling bins.

Buy second-hand: Second-hand shopping is a fantastic way to score unique finds while reducing the demand for new products and fast fashion. You’ll not only save money but also give new life to older items and keep those pieces out of the landfill. UoM Hall residents – don’t forget to check out the buy, sell and swap Facebook group for great deals. Need any office furniture or stationary for studying? The University’s furniture store has your back on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Simon Building basement, 12-3pm. 

Eat less meat and dairy: You might be surprised to discover that farming animals is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, with meat and dairy production causing 14.5% of planet-warming gases. So, even if you’re not going full vegan, a few plant-based meals a week can make a huge impact. Don’t forget, you can get 50% off on vegan and veggie food at 532 Bar on mondays, and the Food In Residence Team offer daily vegan options and have ‘meat free Mondays’ every week in catered halls – find out more here.

Donate unwanted items: Instead of binning your unwanted items, consider donating or selling them to be loved by someone else. You’ll save energy, raw materials, and prevent items from becoming landfill-bound. Plus, you’re helping raise funds for local charities and help those in need. Give it, don’t bin it is the University’s initiative which encourages the recycling of unwanted items on campus. Donation banks from the British Heart Foundation are also located across campus. 

Dispose of vapes properly: Disposable and single-use vapes are terrible for the environment  – the number of disposable vapes getting binned each year could fill 22 football pitches! Due to the way they’re made, disposable vapes are almost impossible to recycle so it’s important that if you do use them, you dispose of them properly. The Sustainable Engineering Initiative Society has 3D-printed vape recycle bins in the SU building and Owens Park – or, even better, you could switch to reusable products to reduce the waste entirely. 

For a comprehensive overview of sustainable options near campus, from microwaves and water dispensers to donation drop-off points, check out our Sustainability Map, and for more information on sustainability at Manchester see our Environmental Sustainability webpages.