I know that being a student can be hard enough without the idea of trying to factor in ‘being sustainable’. But what if I told you there are some simple, easy and cost-effective ways you could be living more sustainably? In fact, it’s often the smaller, everyday choices we make that have the largest impact on our planet. With a rise of conversation around global warming, many students feel very strongly about it. So here’s how you can get involved:
I’m sure we’ve all heard the controversy surrounding Kylie Jenner’s 17-minute plane rides. But for the 99% of us who don’t own private jets, what are some of the smaller ways we can help reduce our carbon footprints?
Making conscious choices to use public transport is a great start, and often a very popular choice for students. Cars are particularly harmful for the environment, responsible for large CO2 emissions and consumption of fossil fuels. Bus services are a great alternative, emitting far less harmful CO2, and with subsidised student bus tickets, it’s a cost-effective way to travel.
Cycling is also a fantastic alternative, especially as a student at York. We have been voted one of the most bike-friendly cities in the UK, providing an extensive network of cycle routes and paths, as well as secure storage for your bikes. If you’re a student or member of staff at the University, you have access to the cycle pool to borrow bikes. Plus, with a less than 10-minute cycle to Lidl, bikes get the seal of approval from me!
While you’re at it, investing in some reusable bags for shopping is a simple way to reduce single use plastic consumption. These contribute largely to landfill waste. Besides, tote bags are a total uni student staple!
Not to mention walking. Fewer cars reduces air pollution, and trying to increase your walking could make for a healthier lifestyle. You’ll often catch me going on a ‘stupid little walk’ for my ‘stupid mental health’.
The University’s Ideas on Sustainability
Many universities are constantly looking to develop ideas around improving sustainable practices. Did you know that here at the University of York, we have pledged a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions (carbon neutrality) on campus by 2030?
The University has an established reusable cup scheme – Yorcup. These reusable cups, with their distinctive green sleeves, can be used for hot drinks in cafés around campus. They help reduce the number of single-use coffee cups sent to landfill.
Thinking about your personal consumption of power is a fab way to try and be more sustainable. Being mindful of how we use water, lighting and heating in our homes is important. Although this is already at the forefront of many of our minds as students during the cost of living crisis. Our Students’ Union is working hard to continue to develop ways students can have their say about sustainability on campus. But if you’re a member of the University, maybe consider joining one of our environmental societies. Find out more about environmental societies.
Sustainable Fashion & Clothing
‘Fast fashion’ clothing brands, like SHEIN, are particularly damaging to the environment. I KNOW that it’s cheap, and I know that as a student it’s so easy to want to skimp on clothing. Maybe you’ve got a themed club night or social. Maybe it’s another two weeks until pay day. Maybe you’re having your termly identity crisis. Whatever it is, it’s almost too easy. Especially if the clothes are currently on trend – but have you ever considered that there is a reason why these companies are so cheap?
Materials often consist of poor-quality polyesters, which once discarded, will spend decades in landfill. And the extent of this landfill is ungodly, think ‘up to 500,000 tonnes each year’ ungodly. Trying to avoid or lessen consumption of fast fashion clothing items is a massive way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. You could do this by investing in higher-quality clothing, or by shopping second-hand through charity stores, or sites like Vinted or Depop.
I’m currently in the process of trying to go fully veggie. Much to the amusement of my little brother, who says he’s planning on “force feeding me bacon sandwiches” when I go back home. But it’s been going pretty well actually! A couple of my flatmates are vegetarian too, so meal prepping together is a good move and saves money. And Quorn crispy nuggets are a GAME CHANGER. But even just trying to reduce your consumption of animal products can help.
There are a number of ways to try and live more sustainably. But trying to educate ourselves on the climate crisis, and how we can all do our part to move towards a more sustainable future is the important part. Remember, there is no planet B.
Thanks for reading folks, happy sustainable living!