Student-Friendly Sustainable Life Hacks

For Student Group Sustainability Month, we're sharing some life hacks to help you take the step towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Save money with our quick and easy swaps!

Green background, text reads Student Group Sustainability Month

You may have heard the word ‘sustainability’ thrown around a lot at university, in marketing, and on the news but what does it mean? In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

A lot of the issues we see in the media are sustainability-related; use of fossil fuels, food waste, plastic pollution, deforestation, fast fashion, and more. Whilst these are all immense worldwide issues, it does not mean that we cannot make a difference.

In this article, we will be giving you some (cost of living crisis friendly) tips to take a step toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Remember, every little helps!

LEDs for life

Whether you’re living at home or in student accommodation, using LED or CFL bulbs is a quick and easy swap. LEDs and CFL bulbs last longer than regular incandescent lights. A quick Google search shows that switching to LEDs can save up to £61 per year per bulb with each bulb costing you £34 less electricity. LED bulbs can cost as little as £3. In the cost of living crisis, it's a win-win! Save money on your bills, and bulbs.

Don’t forget to turn your lights off when you’re not in the room and make use of natural light as much as possible! This will also help you keep those extra ££ off the bills.

Bundling up

With winter in full swing, I’m sure we’re all tempted to crank up the heating. The problem? Heating accounts for almost half of all energy consumption and 40% of energy-related carbon emissions! Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can reduce carbon pollution by up to 340kg and save your household £145 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust!

Tote bag supremacy

You’ve probably noticed that most shops no longer provide you with a free plastic bag, and will either offer it to you for a cost or give you a paper bag. Tote bags have been the real MVP in the last few years as an eco-friendly, sustainable alternative to plastic bags to do our shopping. If you visit the shops three times a week and buy a bag each time (10p each) for a year, you'll be spending £15.60 across the year! Whereas you can get a good tote bag for £10, which looks nice and can be used whenever you want. The main takeaway from this point is obvious - refuse plastic bags! One thing to keep in mind is that making a cotton tote bag has a higher total carbon footprint per bag than a plastic bag. So whilst refusing plastic is a great step, reusable bags are only sustainable if you have only a few! Buying 10 tote bags is not sustainable.

Level up your bottle

In the UK, an estimated 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought yearly. Reusable bottles have proved to be a great alternative to buying plastic water bottles. It’s important you research the material of the bottle (plastic bottles usually don’t have a long life span). However, like tote bags, buying 10 reusable bottles is not sustainable! It’s estimated that any given person would purchase 175 bottles every year. If the cost of a drink is £1, our yearly total would come up to £175. A single reusable bottle could cost us from £10 upfront. Water fountains are readily available in most locations nowadays, and most venues will refill your bottle. So for your water/juices, use your handy reusable bottle and save the planet and your pocket.

That's a wrap on Food waste

Food waste is one of those daunting worldwide issues we mentioned at the start, but it doesn’t mean we can’t play our part. In 2018, the UK produced 9.52 million tonnes of food waste, to help picture this number, this equates to 1,904 African elephants (at 5 tonnes each)! The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that by cutting down on food waste, the average UK household could save up to £500 per year. A couple of easy things we can do to prevent throwing out food is checking our fridge/pantry before we go shopping and ensuring we’re only buying things we need, storing food items appropriately, and of course, meal planning to make use of all the food we have and ensure we use up what we’ve purchased.

For our next blog, we'll be sharing a handy list of products to help you on your sustainability journey!