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Top 10 ethical living tips

Monday 19 September 2011 Student lifestyle

It’s time to live by yourself, so perhaps for the first time in your life you’ve got to really think about your lifestyle choices. This is the perfect opportunity to start thinking ethically! Here are our top 10 tips for leading an ethical student lifestyle.

1. Turn off the power!

Remember your parents telling you to turn off the lights when you’re not in a room, or to turn the computer off when you’re not using it? Well, they weren’t just doing it just to nag, it’s actually a rather obvious way you can save energy and live a little more ethically. It doesn’t take much effort to walk up to the tele and turn it off at the switch, or shut down your laptop before going to bed. Leaving these things on uses up unnecessary energy and will also add up to make your electricity bill that little bit more expensive. That money could have gone on that extra pint, or a cheeky kebab.

2. Turn down the heat!

Don’t worry, no one is expecting you to live through a winter without any heating. However, turning it off at the right times i.e. when you are sleeping or not in the house, will help save you money and energy. Just be diligent. If you think you can turn it down a couple of degrees here and there, do it. If you’re ok with coming into a cold house and waiting for it to warm up, you’ll feel good knowing you’re doing your bit to live a little more ethically.

3. Think about your tea

Tea is important so it gets its own section. You can think ethically about tea in two ways. Firstly, to save more energy, only ever boil the amount of water you need. Filling the kettle to the top for a cuppa means more electricity is getting used to heat it all up. Secondly, try drinking tea that adheres to certain ethical standards. Finding a brand of tea stamped with the Ethical Tea Partnership logo, which maintains socially just and environmentally sustainable working standards, is a great start (the same kind of standards can be applied to coffee, don't panic).

4. Save water

It is widely known that, generally speaking, having a shower uses up a third of the water of a bath (depending on how long you stay in there for). Saving water is a key area of energy conservation and is really, really easy to do. Another great tip is the classic brick in the cistern trick. By placing a solid object of some kind in the back section of your toilet less water is used when it flushes. How easy is that? Do it once and never think about it again!

5. Slow down!

Not many students go to university with a car. For those of you that do, try driving at the speed limit. Obviously, it is not advisable to be driving above it anyway (it’s that whole ‘illegal’ thing, really), but driving a little slower will save on petrol and will be a whole lot more environmentally friendly for our atmosphere. And on top of that, you’ll save a few pretty pennies.

6. Don’t drive

Of course, if you really want to slow down and save the world then ditching the car altogether is an even better idea. Cars produce a pretty hefty 11% of the carbon emissions in the UK, so why not try a bike,walking, or even just the bus? As a student you’ll actually get to know your new city a lot better by foot, or by bike. Shared transport like buses also means less people are on the road, petrol and energy are saved and a whole lot less carbon dioxide is released into our atmosphere. Who needs to drive, eh?

7. Recycle

As a student you’ll be seeing your fair share of tins, beer cans and wine bottles. Hopefully this means you’ll also be seeing your fair share of bottle banks and recycling bins too. These materials are completely re-useable, so imagine how much you’ll be saving the environment the morning after a party by getting your mates together and shifting all the rubbish to the recycling bins. In normal everyday circumstances you can have a recycling collection area, or bin in your house where you collect recyclable rubbish. There’s really no excuse for not recycling these days, so just get it done!

8. Use your own bags

A lot of shops charge for plastic bags now (and rightly so!) because they are not environmentally friendly or biodegradable. When you go for your big first shop buy some of the sturdier, use-again bags, or the excellent canvas bags on offer so that you can take them along every time you go shopping. That way you’ll never need to get another plastic bag again.

9. Reduce your food miles

This may prove difficult as a student, when you can’t be fussy about the food you purchase. When it’s possible, however, try and buy local produce. This will help out your local businesses, which is great, but also reduces the number of miles your food has flown to be on your plate. You can apply the same logic about reducing your carbon footprint to the food you eat.

10. Think about your kitchen

This encompasses all the little tricks you can do to save energy in the kitchen. For example, cook several dishes in one sitting; use a tiered steamer so that you only use one hob for all your veg and adjust the ring of flame to the size of the pan to avoid heat loss. Avoid opening the oven door when cooking as it releases a lot of heat and cooking will take longer; use your washing machine at a lower temperature and (if your are lucky enough to have one) put the dishwasher on its economy setting.

Just following some of these relatively simple tips will mean you will be leading a more ethical lifestyle. It might not seem much but the right attitude can go a long way, and every little helps.

For more tips on student lifestyle you can read more articles at our freshers and settling in section.