Ten ways you can be more sustainable as a UoB student

Save the planet and your bank account

Sustainable living is often believed to be too expensive or time consuming for university students. However, being climate conscious can be easier and cheaper than it may seem at first.

Being sustainable doesn’t mean you need to have a total life overhaul and start shopping at expensive organic whole-food shops. There are small, everyday changes we can all make to save the planet and protect our bank accounts. Below are ten things every Birmingham student can change to help do their bit for our planet.

1) Reduce your meat consumption

Being vegan or vegetarian isn’t a sustainable goal for everyone, but by reducing your meat consumption even slightly you can do your bit for the planet. Whether it is participating in ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ or becoming a ‘flexitarian’, even a small change will be contributing to a more stable future.

By 2030 we need to have reduced our meat consumption by at least 70 percent to prevent a climate breakdown. Birmingham is full of vegan/vegetarian cafes and restaurants that can make this easier. Vegan Munch based on Bristol Road, Selly Oak, is the perfect spot for when those kebab cravings hit!

2 Buy less single-use plastic

There are reusable alternatives to almost every day- to- day item, meaning there’s not really an excuse to continue buying single-use plastics.

Buying reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags, are all easy ways to reduce your contribution to the plastic problem, whilst also helping you to save money.

3 Use public transport

Getting around Birmingham is easy. The city is so well-connected with trains, trams and buses so there’s not really any reason to splash out on a taxi.

UoB is the only university with its own train station and with trains running until midnight, it’s the easiest way to get into the city.

4 Shop second-hand

Shopping second-hand is an easy way to save your wallet and the planet.

Second-hand shopping has a big impact on the planet, reducing emissions, saving resources, water and energy, and preventing old items from ending up in landfill. There are charity shops all around Birmingham which make buying second hand incredibly accessible. Apps such as Vinted and Depop are also easy and cheap ways to buy ‘new’ clothes.

If you want to be even more sustainable and save on postage, Hazaar is a great option. Founded by a UoB student, Hazaar provides a student-only market place that allows you to buy and sell between each other, saving on packaging and delivery.

5 Delete emails

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got hundreds of unread emails sitting in your inbox. Did you know this increases carbon emissions?

Deleting emails or unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t need will not only create space on your phone, but will also help you keep on top of your carbon emissions by reducing energy consumption. If every person on the planet deleted ten emails it would cut nearly 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

6 Recycle

Recycling is such as easy way to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill, but as a country we are rubbish at it (only 44 per cent of household waste is recycled in England).

Shopping with recycling in mind and trying to only buy products in recyclable containers can help you to reduce your general waste. To make this worthwhile, the packaging must end up in the recycling bin, not the normal bin.

Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce your contribution to the climate crisis and it only takes a few extra minutes when sorting out your waste to make a difference.

7 Reduce food waste

Storing food properly or going shopping with a meal plan in mind are two easy ways to save money on the weekly food shop and reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away.

Using up food before its expiry date and only buying what you need reduces your carbon footprint, as the  food won’t end up in landfill where it contributes to greenhouse gas production. By ensuring no good food ends up in the bin we can tackle climate change, and reduce arguments over who’s turn it is to take the bin out!

8 Join an eco society

Plastic-Free UoB offers fun opportunities to make friends, whilst being conscious about your environmental impact. They share useful tips on their Instagram to help everyone reduce their plastic waste, as well as holding litter picks around campus to help make UoB plastic-free.

9 Use second-hand books

Sometimes it’s great to look at an actual book over an eBook on a laptop screen to give your eyes a break. Not only are books expensive but their production is tied to deforestation and carbon emissions.

UoB’s library holds over 1.5 million print books, and has access to 866,000 online books, meaning every book you need for your studies is probably somewhere in there.

If you want your own copy of a book, sites such as World of Books and Ebay can help you find second-hand books at a reduced cost.

10 Speak out

Suppliers are listening to consumer demand. Participating in Meat-Free Mondays or buying reusable alternatives sends a message to the big corporations, letting them know we are making a change. Adding your voice to this movement is the best and easiest thing you can do to make a difference.

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