Wednesday, May 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

How to Live More Sustainably as a Student

Over the last few decades, concerns about the carbon footprint we leave on this earth has become prevalent and has taken space at the forefront of our minds. We have seen recently what happens when we stop moving and focus on where we are, what occurs when air and car traffic is reduced, how clear the sea truly is, how bright the sky is meant to be and how clean the air feels. But how can we sustain this feeling and outcome? We have become more mindful of which bin a piece of wrapping should be put in or whether the piece of clothing we are wearing is environmentally friendly. Millions of questions around this continue to race through our minds, and as students we are becoming more aware of the future and what we can do to contribute to the welfare of the planet. Here are a few ways in which we, as students, can begin to live more sustainably without too much drastic change.

COFFEE: It is known that students run on a diet of stress and coffee. We have deadlines, readings, and a social life all to balance and the one thing which helps many of us function is this miraculous substance called coffee. But how can we get the fix whilst being sustainable? Invest in a reusable coffee flask – this will quickly become your best friend – take it with you to your favourite coffee house, and ask to use your own instead of one of their single-use cups. Many places reduce the price if you bring your own mug as an incentive. Additionally, if you want to be sustainable with regards to money in the long run, purchase a variety of coffee syrups and add them to the morning coffee in your to-go mug yourself. This way you will have the experience and the taste of your morning coffee, but you will have saved yourself money and saved the environment. Unfortunately, due to the current COVID pandemic, café’s are not accepting reusable coffee cups, but hopefully will again in future.

BOOKS: It is unheard of for a student to go through their education without having to purchase a book to read, but it is also known that many students spend far too much money on buying all different types of books. The constant reprinting of books is detrimental to the environment and your own pocket, so a way to save the planet and our own bank account is to purchase a Kindle or subscribe to online platforms to access digital books. Whilst there is an initial fee for the Kindle or the subscription, it saves so much paper in the long term and it is not only beneficial for us, but for the environment. It also means that you can take those resources with you on one device and not have to worry about carrying multiple books at a time. 

PLANTS: Plants are immensely beneficial in reducing stress, producing oxygen and clearing the air around us. They can add an aesthetic to and brighten up your house, office, study space or bedroom and brighten up your space. You can have a few dotted around or litter your space in them and create a little family of plants – either way, they are hugely advantageous to our wellbeing.

WATER: Hydration is key to the body and the brain, and as humans are made up of around 60% water, we all need at least 6 glasses of water a day in order to function properly and effectively. It can either be straight from the tap, tea or flavoured water. In many areas across the UK and the globe, it is unsafe and unsanitary to drink water straight from the tap, with buying bottled water being the next option. However, the plastic or glass packaging it comes in ultimately increases our carbon footprint. To reduce its impact on the environment, buying a water filter enables filtered, clean water to be accessed straight from your tap. But if plain water is not for you and you still want the flavoured water taste, add slices of lemon, cucumber or a handful of raspberries, strawberries for a fun flavour. 

Being a student does not mean that you should forget about being sustainable, and these are some of the many ways in which we can contribute to saving the planet and still get an education.