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Top 10 tips for living green

Tuesday 11 February 2014 Ethical Living

Living a more sustainable student lifestyle is a great way to save you money, benefit your local community and help protect the environment. We've put together a list of tips to help you live green.

1. Save energy.

There are so many small actions you can take around your house or flat which add up to a big difference.

Turn the heating down a bit, and put on a jumper. Only fill the kettle as much as you need. Put a lid on a pan while you’re cooking pasta. Turn the plugs off when you leave the house. That sort of thing.

Student Switch Off helps you do this in halls, and rewards you with prizes too. If you’re renting a place, why not talk to your landlord about insulation techniques, or switching to a green energy provider like Ecotricity? Aside from saving carbon, using less energy saves you money too.

2. Help others to save energy

It’s all well and good knowing that you’ve turned your own lights off, but what about when you see needless lighting around campus?

Snap it Off lets you take action on senseless energy wasting. Just take a photo of the eco-crime, upload it to our website, and we’ll take care of it from there. You might even win a monthly prize. (This is kind of a theme with us…)

3. Support local food

Student Eats puts student-led allotments at the heart of campuses across the UK. There might not be one at your institution right now, but talk to your students’ union about setting one up!

Growing your own is a really effective way to contribute to a much lower-carbon food system. It’s also really fun. You get to know new people, and learn new skills. Some groups have even used their produce to set up their own businesses, selling jams and honey to local shops.

Others just share out the food. We like the sound of that too.

4. Take fewer planes

There’s no getting away from it: flying halfway around the world several times a year isn’t part of a green lifestyle.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stop going on holiday. You can take the train for a start. It’s a lot more fun, and you get a real sense of travel.

Why not take the Eurostar over to France and travel onto Italy? Would you rather be watching Love Actually on the back of someone else’s seat, or watching the scenery as you weave through the Alps at sunrise?

Or you can stay in the UK. Why not go walking across the coast of west Wales, or cosy down in a cottage in Cornwall? Go on a camping tour, visiting all those cities you’ve never bothered to visit.

5. Use kinder transport

Obviously, you don’t go everywhere by plane. So have a think about what you could do to lessen the impact of your everyday transport.

Can you take the bus instead of a car? Can you walk instead of take the bus? Or you could get yourself a bike. It’s such a cheap (and fast) way to get around, and you’ll be tons healthier. You could even talk to your union about setting up a bike rental co-op.

And if you absolutely have to drive – make sure you offer out a car share. Don’t get grumpy in traffic alone. And you can blame them when you get lost.

6. Get involved in the community

Sometimes, the student life can feel a bit like you’re in a bubble. But getting involved in green work can take you out into the community a lot more. Allotments are a great place to grow new foods and meet people from different cultural backgrounds, as well as local residents. And why not consider volunteering in Green Impact? You could become a trained environmental auditor, or help deliver behaviour change at a huge range of places – hospitals, schools, dentists, fire stations – wherever!

7. Grow some oyster mushrooms!

Thinking of creative, new ways of reducing, reusing and recycling can lead to a lot of fun. It’s not all obvious stuff like switching the lights off.

Did you know you can grow your own mushrooms on old teabags for example? You can. Seriously. Give it a go.

8. Boost your career

More and more employers are looking to recruit graduates who are sustainability-literate. Green jobs are about much more than just designing wind turbines. It’s becoming increasingly integrated across all sectors – driving efficiency and viable business models across the entire economy.

Getting involved in green projects gives you a huge range of skills which can make you really stand out in the jobs market.

9. Improve your education

Sustainability is also really important as part of a rounded education. We’re doing more and more to green your curriculums, and offer you opportunities to do stuff like write dissertations which contribute to social good. How can you incorporate sustainability into your learning? Be creative – there’s an infinite number of ways.

And it can impact your education in ways you don’t expect too. Would you study better in a house free from damp and cold?

10. Get active

Making changes to your own lifestyle is important. But it’s also great to contribute to wider political change, and make your collective voice heard on green issues. There are a huge number of local and national green campaigns you could get   involved in.

This week, the Fossil Free campaign is encouraging universities to break up with fossil fuels on Valentine’s Day. People and Planet are helping students encourage their institutions to remove investments from fossil fuels companies. See if there’s already a group at your institution, or start one yourself. Make your voice heard.