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A day of sustainable student life

By Lucy Pegg

Thursday 22 February 2018 Student Journalists

As the climate crisis deepens, sustainability is becoming the new “it” word – and for good reason. But though the effects of global warming are largescale, many of the changes we can make to combat it are in our everyday lives. Whether its changing how you get to university or switching up the way you pack your lunch, collectively our small actions have a huge impact. But, practically, how does all this fit into your action-packed, over-worked, student life? Our day-in-the-life of a sustainable student shows you how.

9am – wake up and brace yourself for the day ahead. To get your sustainability going right from the start, why not swap the dairy milk on your cereal for plant milk? Soy milk is great if your wallet is tight, whilst almond or oat milk adds a lovely new depth to your breakfast.

10.30am – cycle to university, avoiding both the congestion on the roads and the cost of public transport in a few turns of the pedals. If you haven’t got a bike yet, pick one up secondhand, or see if your university, college or students’ union runs a bike hire scheme you can get involved with.

11am – your seminar begins, and by now you’ve (hopefully) forced your brain awake. Keep yourself hydrated and focused by having a reusable water bottle handy; if you don’t have a reusable one, you can just refill a used drinks bottle, as most of the plastic bottles used in the UK are perfectly safe to used again and again.

1pm – you made it through your seminar, so it’s finally lunch time! If you’re bringing in a packed lunch, try to think about how you’ve packaged it up. Swap single use sandwich bags for tupperwares, or harder wearing freezer bags that can be re-used – when you’re on the last slices of bread you can even pack your sandwiches in the bag the bread came in. When packing that delicious food into your bag, consider keeping it all together in a cotton tote bag, rather than a carrier bag that will be easily damaged and need replacing.

1.45pm – just before your next lecture begins, nip to the cafe on campus and grab a coffee for that urgent afternoon re-caffeination. Be sure to bring along your reusable cup though, so you can take your drink to class without creating unnecessary waste. Many universities and colleges even offer discounts if you have a reusable cup, so your ever-depleting student loan will thank you for bringing it too.

5pm – your course work might be done for the day, but before you head home there’s still time to go to a society event or meeting. There are so many societies that promote sustainable living you’ll be overwhelmed with choice; between vegetarian and vegan societies, student gardening clubs, climate action movements and campaigns for institutions to go fossil free, you can find something to suit your interests and help the planet.

7pm – you’re probably starving, but luckily it’s time to get cooking your dinner. Why not try a bean and root vegetable stew, or a lentil bolognaise, using seasonal vegetables wherever possible. If you’ve got the time, why not batch cook too? You’ll have lots left over for future meals and cooking it all at once saves on energy. Even if you only have a small amount of leftovers, make sure you don’t just chuck it in the bin. Whether it becomes tomorrow’s lunch or a midnight snack, preventing food waste is good for your hunger cravings and the planet.

9.30pm – it’s the evening, the time for fun and forgetting about the labours of the day gone by. If you’re heading out for drinks, make sure to keep the NUS’ #TheLastStraw campaign in mind and say no to single use straws – no matter how classy they may look in that cocktail you’re treating yourself too.

1am – whether you’re just home from the pub or tucking yourself in after an evening with Netflix, make sure all your appliances and lights are switched off before you let yourself fall asleep. Think how often you find a light left on in the morning, especially in busy student houses, wasting electricity and your money too. Then fall asleep dreaming of all that great sustainable living you filled your day with.