Recently, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) news report produced some alarming findings. Global warming is occurring at a rate much faster than previously thought. To help combat this, Charlie Bedwell explores their list of 9 things that we can all do to help reduce our contribution to global warming and become more sustainable.
- Buy less dairy.
- Buy only locally sourced food.
- Throw away less.
- Drive electric cars.
- Walk and cycle short distances.
- Choose trains and buses over planes.
- Choose washing lines of tumble dryers.
- Insulate homes.
- Purchase items with small carbon footprints
But which of these are relevant to us students and how can we afford to do them?
Less dairy & more locally sourced food
Buying less dairy and finding locally sourced foods is the most expensive suggestion to try and implement. Having a vegan day each week is a cheap way to make a change, remember to check out what vegan products you purchase as some of these have damaging environmental effects too! Soya milk is partially responsible for deforestation to make space for the beans to grow, so shop around and perhaps try oat milk as an alternative. Another easy change to make is to reduce the amount of cheese and milk that you are eating. Don’t flood your cereal, ease up on the crazy grating and try taking your tea black. Alternatively, you can drink a mix of milky and herbal teas.
Similarly, buying locally sourced food is not applicable to everyone but if you have local businesses, support them! The carbon footprint for their produce will be significantly lower and they tend not to use as much plastic as your regular superstore. If you’re concerned about where your food comes from, it is much easier to find out from local businesses so don’t be afraid to ask the question.
Reduce your waste
Most of these suggestions are self-explanatory and easy to implement. “Throw away less” however, might have some people at a bit of a loss. How can we make sure that we are throwing away as little as possible whilst still having access to everything we need? Check out the suggestions below that are easy to implement into student life.
- Cook and freeze down your meals at the weekend
- Replace single use items with longer-lasting ones.
For example; paper towels with dish towels, make-up wipes with cloths, plastic straws with metal (or no!) straws, plastic bags with reusable bags and plastic cups with flasks or bottles.
- Buy less in the first place!
Make the most of what you already have and see if you can re-purpose items that you would have otherwise thrown away.
- Be responsible with what you do throw away and be sure to recycle.
- Bring lunches in with you to uni and work.
You aren’t buying food that’s packaging will need throwing away.
Luckily, being frugal and being eco-friendly often come hand in hand, especially with regards to travel. If you can walk there in half an hour, do it! Save yourself some money, keep active and do your bit for the environment.
On the occasions where you do need to hop in the car, see if you can car share. By swapping the designated driver you’ll be saving money and saving the planet; all from the passenger seat.
If you really want to go the extra mile, think about how you travel on your weekends away and holidays. Choose destinations that you can reach by bus or train (try the Eurostar or interrail?) and choose a place that is central to the activities you want to do. This way you can save money by again hopping on a bike or going for a stroll.
Insulate your home
Insulating your home may at first seem irrelevant to students, but there are some things you can do! You can make your own super easy draught excluders which will save you some pennies and keep you toasty. Follow this link to find out how it’s done.
When it starts to get a bit nippy, throw on jumper or bury yourself in a blanket. Avoid putting the heating on until you need it and use the cold as an excuse for a cuppa and a snuggle!
Small carbon footprint purchases
This one takes a little more effort than most. Check out the labels on the items that you purchase to find out about their carbon footprint. Buying locally is the easiest way to reduce your this; especially if the foods are labelled as organic. This isn’t always realistic however, so make yourself aware of the carbon footprint of each type of food.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by a quarter just by cutting down on red meat! Surprisingly, cheese is high up on the list too, so cutting this down will really help lower your carbon footprint too.
As mentioned earlier, insulating your house, using the heating less frequently and generally being energy efficient will really help your carbon footprint to drop. Make sure you switch things off at the power source, only use things when you really need them and find alternatives, such as energy efficient light bulbs, when possible.
Being eco-friendly is still accessible to students and often comes hand in hand with being frugal! Most of these suggestions fit in well with student life but some require a little more creativity! With global warming occurring at a rate much faster than expected, making these can really make the difference, even if it’s just a selection of the things that fit in best with your lifestyle.
Want to read more from Charlie? Follow this link to read the first article in her previous series ‘THE WILD LIFE DIARIES’
About the Author: Charlie Bedwell is a Psychology graduate from the University of Reading.