Your three-step guide to reducing your carbon footprint on campus right now
A student’s guide to helping the planet one step at a time
Let’s face it, there is a huge amount of pressure on young people to solve climate change. We either worry we’re not doing enough, or it’s just so overwhelming that it feels easier to watch from a distance and then beg David Attenborough to forgive us.
We cheer on our vegan friends, we share heart-wrenching images of animals on the brink of survival, but we don’t actually take any action in our own lives.
You may think that individuals can’t make a difference, but where would we get if everyone thought this way? Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than this, but you’d be surprised by the impact small lifestyle changes can have on the environment, and there is certainly no shortage of options for what you can do right now.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. If you clicked on this article, you’re already making a step in the right direction. But where do you go from here? Well, lucky for you, we’re going to lay out just three simple steps that you can take to reduce your carbon footprint around campus. You can even choose just one and make an impact.
The key is to actually stick to it…
1. Eat local and less meat
We’re not telling you to jump straight on the vegan bandwagon cold turkey, but simply cutting down on the amount of meat you eat could decrease your footprint by as much as one-third.
Although the most effective way to live more sustainably is to go for plant-based protein sources, this is not realistic for everyone. So start by taking part in Meat-Free Monday, or substituting red meat for lower impact options such as chicken and pork. Who knows, you might even become Linda McCartney’s new biggest fan…
If you’re doing a food shop off campus, check out Gaia in Leamington Spa or Down to Earth in Earlsdon. These small independent businesses sell local, seasonal produce, promoting a more ethical and greener way of living. Make sure to go armed with reusable bags and containers so that you can top up on anything from dried fruit and nuts, herbs, spices, grains, cereals, and pulses, to laundry and washing up-liquid.
2. Reduce waste
Did you know that every year eight million tonnes of plastic fill up our oceans? This is why it’s vital to reduce everyday single-use plastic; Invest in a reusable water bottle, opt for loose fruit and veg instead of buying it wrapped in layers of unnecessary plastic, and if you do buy food in plastic tubs then wash and reuse them.
Food waste is equally as significant as plastic waste, with roughly 1.3 billion tons of it being produced every year. So stop and think before you throw something away.
If you have leftovers, either channel your inner foodie and create something new, or simply freeze them for another day. When that fruit in the corner of your room starts to look a bit dodgy, freeze it or whack it in a smoothie. If you’re really feeling organised, why not make a meal plan for the week to avoid wasting food all together?
Recycling couldn’t be easier; There are places all over campus where you can recycle cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, cans, CDs and even clothes. You can find a map of recycling points here.
Also make sure to keep an eye out for the next RAWKUS collection, a project formed of Warwick volunteers who take unwanted food from students and distribute it to local charities and food banks. You can learn more about this campaign and its efforts to help students rethink waste here. Alternatively, there’s the option of the Tesco Food Bank Donation Point just down the road.
If you have Netflix and are yet to see ‘David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet’, then add it your list. It’s shocking, chilling, and exactly what we need. This documentary creates urgency, revealing a bleak picture of what lies ahead if we carry on the way we are today. There is hope for both us and our planet, but only if we choose to act now and change the way we live.
Whether you want to take part in further climate action, or are keen to learn more about environmental issues, there are a wealth of sustainability societies and campaigns on campus that you can get involved with too.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to persist in whatever change you choose to make, until it becomes like second nature.