Advice

How to positively impact the environment as a student

Having a positive environmental impact as a student
Positively impacting the environment can often seem difficult as a student. Source: via PxHere
Although it may seem a daunting prospect to try and singlehandedly contribute to improving the environment, there are many small things that you can change in your daily life in order to become more environmentally conscious as a student.

By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor

The UK’s increasingly hotter summers may have felt like a blessing, especially as most of us were forced to stay at home this year due to the coronavirus restrictions. However, with these unusually high temperatures comes the problems of climate change and global warming which are posing a threat to our environment.

The UK government, as well as many individuals and organised groups, have brought attention to large scale solutions in an attempt to face problems caused by climate change for the future.

With the huge scale that these problems are on, it can at times seem like it is impossible for you alone to make an impact in tackling global issues. Especially if, like me, you are a university student who may not have the time or capabilities to take on large projects regarding the environment.

However, this is not to say that you should give up all together in trying to prevent global warming, as even small everyday acts such as recycling can make an impact on the environment. For example, there is evidence that just recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to power a lightbulb for four hours.

So, although it may seem a daunting prospect to try and singlehandedly contribute to improving the environment, there are many small things that you can change in your daily life in order to become more environmentally conscious.


Recycling

Perhaps one of the most well-known and simplest way of living in a more environmentally friendly way is by recycling your household waste where possible. Most people have probably been taught about the importance of recycling at some point so it may seem relatively self-explanatory that it is a good way to positively impact the environment.

However, what can often be less obvious is how to actually go about recycling, especially if you are in private university housing where it may not be immediately clear how it works in your area.

Contacting your local council is a good way to gain information about how to ensure that you are recycling in the correct way for your area. For example, after moving into a new house in my second year of university, Cardiff council were able to provide me with the necessary bags and boxes to make sure that I was recycling correctly as much as possible.


Transport

Using public transport instead of private methods of travel is another very common method for reducing your contribution to local pollution levels, and positively impact the environment.

If you are a student, using public transport or walking instead of driving may already be incorporated into your daily life, as many students do not bring their own personal transport to university. However, there are still ways to change the way you travel that may better the environment.

For example, choosing to walk or cycle into town or university instead of taking the bus or ordering a taxi service means that you are not unnecessarily contributing to pollution levels and can also experience the health benefits associated with more physically active transportation.

Even in the rain where it may seem more desirable to use a company like Uber, investing in a good coat or umbrella can improve your carbon footprint, and may even be cheaper than repeatedly paying for travel expenses.


Shopping

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the UK throws 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste away per year, which has negative implications for the environment. As a student, it can often be hard to prevent food waste, especially when shopping for only one person, as a lot of food is often packaged for families to make more than one meal at a time.

Methods such as making bulk meals that you can freeze or eat the next day, buying individual vegetables instead of pre-packaged ones, or occasionally cooking group meals with your housemates can all help to reduce the amount of food waste you produce, and help you make a positively impact the environment.

In other areas of shopping, such as for clothes, buying sustainable or second-hand items can also help to reduce the global impact of your spending.


Work and studying

As a student, it seems inevitable that you will have to get hundreds of books and use masses of paper in order to record your notes, and so will not be able to positively impact the environment in this area of your life.

However, with coronavirus restrictions changing the ways that many universities are delivering lectures this year, now may be the time to start making changes to the way that you study which are better for the environment.

An increase in online teaching may mean that more resources such as handouts are moved to a digital format, reducing the amount of paper waste created by universities when these are not taken. Furthermore, online teaching may also encourage you to record notes digitally instead of on paper, which not only reduces the piles of paper you will have to sort through when reading your notes, but also limits the amount of physical waste you will create.

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