Students! Thanks to these super simple tips, you'll have all this eco-friendly stuff in the (reusable) bag!

Leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle when you're at uni can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve come up with 10 easy ways to become a more eco-friendly student. The best part? You won't have to spend a fortune or put loads of effort in!

Use canvas bags

Gif. Plastic bag being blown into the face of a man being interviewed

Source: Giphy

We know plastic bags haven’t been free from supermarkets or large retailers for about two years now, but this is still a point worth reiterating! If you can use a canvas bag or reuse a plastic one so that you’re getting lots of use out of it rather than buying a new one that just ends up in landfill, then this is an easy way to lessen your impact on the environment. 

Eat less meat

Hear us out! We’re not saying that you have to turn veggie indefinitely or adopt the diet of this bunny (however cute he may be!), but by cutting down on your meat consumption, you’ll be helping the environment.

But how? We hear you ask! 

Gif. Close up of a rabbit munching on some leaves

Source: Giphy

Research carried out in 2016 reports that ‘a widespread switch to vegetarianism would cut emissions by nearly two-thirds.’ Two-thirds! That's incredible.

Eating less meat would also reduce the need for dangerous fertilisers and pesticides used to help produce the unnaturally large amount of feed necessary to meet meat-production demands.

Don’t always buy new

As a society, it’s often our instinct to buy new because it’s so easy. But that’s not always the best option for the environment. Why not borrow books from the library instead of buying them or read digital versions of your course texts?

Gif. Macklemore 'Thrift Store' music video. "But shit! It was 99 cents"

Source: Giphy

It’s also better for the environment (and not to mention loads of fun) to find secondhand clothes in charity and vintage shops. As a student, it’s pretty much your duty to care about the environment and to rock some quirky fashions, and shopping like this means you can achieve both in one go! 

Don't knock charity shops, they're great if you want to feel righteous while looking fabulous (who doesn't?!) You can rest easy knowing you're doing your bit, both for charity and for nature.

Bin the microbeads

These are the little plastic beads that can often be found in face and body scrubs, as well as toothpastes. Research in recent years has found just how damaging these tiny pieces of plastic (up to 100,000 of which flow through the sewage system following a single use of a product containing them) are to marine life, as well as the extensive impact they have all the way up the food chain after being ingested by animals in the sea.

Gif. TLC music video. "I don't want no scrub"

Soure: Giphy

If you love a good pamper session and are worried you've been using microbeads, don't panic! There are plenty of products that use natural, biodegradable alternatives like salt and sugar to achieve the same exfoliating effect without harming the environment. 

Earlier this year, the government announced a ban on these minute plastic menaces (hooray!), but give yourself a headstart and sleep easy by avoiding all products containing them while they are still being sold!

Say No! To Paper

While most of us are comfortably living in the 21st century by now, some companies still haven't got the memo. They insist on sending you physical product catalogues in the post and we're wondering just when they're going to discover email? We don’t need paper copies for anything any more, so an easy way to become more eco-friendly is to unsubscribe from catalogues like this and go paperless for things like bills.

Gif. Harry Potter in a pile of Hogwarts letters reaching up to catch one as they fall

Source: Giphy

The other thing to consider is junk mail. There’s a messy mountain of takeaway leaflets and junk mail somewhere near the front door of every student house. If you want to minimise the amount of paper you’re wasting, why not leave a little "No Junk Mail, Please" sign on your post box to bypass the build-up of that deadly stack of paper by your door! It's worth a try.

Make yourself a packed lunch

Gif. Hamster cramming lots of mini carrots into his cheeks

Source: Giphy

We know it can be difficult to get organised enough to do this, and it definitely seems easier to buy yourself some lunch and a coffee once you get to uni. However, you might change your mind when you stop to think about how much packaging and materials that uses and how much money you’re spending!

It’s definitely not student budget friendly to buy cups of coffee and lunch every day, so grab yourself a flask and a lunchbox and you'll be on your way! Look at you being healthy and saving the world! 

Buy locally-grown products

So this one’s pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many of us don’t! Again, it’s so easy to pop to the local supermarket to pick up everything you need that many of us don’t bother to check where our food is coming from, much less take a special trip to the market or greengrocers down the road to buy only fruit and veggies that are locally-grown and in season.

Gif. Simpsons. Homer growing plants. *Gasps* "A sprout! And there's some more!"

Source: Giphy

By choosing locally-grown produce, you’re helping to cut down on the emissions released into the atmosphere in order to bring products from around the world to your local supermarket. And it doesn't get much more local than growing your own, so why not give it a try! You can use leftover garlic cloves, onion roots and seeds from fruit - easy!

Save energy

"Why are all the lights always on in this house?" "You're cold? Put a jumper on then!"

Gif. Blink-182 'All the Small Things' music video. "Turn the lights off"

Source: Giphy

Sound familiar? The best ways to conserve energy in your student house are probably just the same things you hear from your parents when you visit home. You may think they're just being irritating, but they're actually onto something.

It's so much better for the environment (and your wallet) if you take the time to implement some energy saving measures like turning the lights off in rooms you aren't using and wearing warmer layers rather than cranking up the central heating.

Reduce water waste

In the same way that it's good to conserve energy, you should aim to minimise your water waste if you want to become more eco-friendly. Things like taking shorter showers and turning the tap off when brushing your teeth are some easy, obvious little ways to save water. 

Gif. Staffordshire Terrier standing in bath tub wearing a shower cap and holding a scrubbing brush/shower head in his mouth

Source: Giphy

What may come as a bit of a surprise, however, is the fact that the most efficient way to do your washing up is in a fully-loaded dishwasher rather than by hand. Now we know how students can get if they have a dishwasher and someone suggests using it, and we assumed you’d be a little sceptical, so we thought we'd just leave this Guardian article here.

Don't lose heart if you don't have a dishwasher, you'll still save water if you fill up your sink or washing up bowl with hot water and wash your dishes that way, rather than running the tap! 

RECYCLE

Gif. Pug dropping plastic bottle into plastic recycling box

Source: Giphy

We don't actually think there's anyone left who doesn't recycle these days (well, we hope not at least!), but we decided to include it on our list as it's still an incredibly important, and super easy, way of being kinder to the environment. Plus...it was the perfect excuse to include this gif of a super cute doggo putting the recycling out! 

If you want to learn more about protecting the environment and becoming more eco-friendly, make sure you check out The Woodland Trust and Greenpeace websites for lots of information and inspiration!

So there you have it, our 10 easy ways to become a more eco-friendly student! It can be hard to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle while at uni, but by following some simple steps like this, you’re already on your way! As an added bonus, many of these will also help you save a bit of money, which is always useful when you’re living on a student budget!

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