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November 3, 2021

Sustainability as a Student

Saving Energy as a student

There is no doubt as a student (especially in first year) sustainability is not always the first thought in our minds. There is an overwhelming amount to learn and experience. Just trying to keep the communal kitchen tidy can be an impossible task.

That is why as a student I like to make sustainability the easy choice!

Waste and Recycling in Student Accommodation

Lead by example! If you wash out your recycling, separate waste from the bin in your room and bathrooms into the correct communal bins and make choices to use less plastics, your housemates will take notice.

Ensure there is a noticeable difference between the bins; this way less contamination is likely to occur by mistake. We use a cardboard box for recycling in my student house, this way if waste is put in it, with no lid, it starts to smell quickly.

Create a poster to hang above the bins in your student kitchen to remind everyone what objects go in which bins – depending on your council this could be different so remember to double check.

Recycling in student accommodation

Energy Saving in Student Accommodation

We’ve always been told by our parents to ‘turn off the light’s money doesn’t grow on trees’ but now turning off lights will not only reduce your electricity bill, but it will contribute to living more sustainably. Every penny counts as a student! Especially living in student accommodation! Another easy switch is changing to LED bulbs – you could save £40 per year.

Once winter creeps in and the heating is on, remember to close your windows (there is always one who likes to leave them open). Money is literally going out of the window. If it’s warm enough for the window to be open, it is warm enough to try turning the heating down by 1 degree, you can save £75 and 320kg CO2.

Recycling in student accommodation

Reducing water consumption in student accommodation

Do you leave the tap running whilst brushing your teeth? Do you put a wash on only half full? Do you have a leak in your student house? All these not only are bad for the environment but are wasting your money and time. A dripping tap if left can waste 5000 litres of water a year, 24 pints a day! Take actions and contact the student landlord about leaks.

Showering for one minute less can save 21 glasses of water. This is not only going to impact the environment positively, but your water bill will thank you for it.

Saving water in student accommodation

Reducing plastics

Let’s be honest with ourselves we all like a coffee or a hot drink to go to a lecture with. An easy option to be sustainable is to take a reusable cup and a water bottle to university. YOU CANNOT RECYCLE DISPOSABLE CUPS. I know! This came as a shock to me to. 2.5 billion cups are thrown away every year and making a simple change can stop this.

It is also so much cheaper to ask someone to fill your water bottle up with tap water then continue to buy bottles of water – from a plastic bottle or can.

Using reusable containers to store food in your student fridge for me is a switch I could never go back from. Not having to use clingfilm is a win in my eyes. It’s a sustainable choice that leaves leftovers fresh and ready to take to university for the next days lunch. This saves on plastics but also on food waste.

Saving plastic in student accommodation

Making your garden hedgehog friendly

As students we can spend far too much time inside studying then outside with nature. A great way to escape this and positively impact your environment is to ensure your garden in your student house is hedgehog friendly.

When you see hedgehogs, it means the eco-system is healthy.

Here are a few steps to do this:

  • Ensure hedgehogs can pass freely through from one garden to another as they can travel one mile every night to find food.  This can be achieved by a simple 13cm x 13cm hole cut/made between in the fence; allowing hedgehogs but not larger animals (Ask your landlords first!)
  • Keeping areas of your garden overgrown is great for the hedgehogs (check your contract first!) Keeping the gardens litter free can help keep a safe route for hedgehogs to travel.  
  • A creative way is to help to build hedgehog homes, using a plastic box with holes in the roof and putting in bedding such as leaves, and grass cuttings is a quick and easy way to give hedgehogs a nesting point. Providing a shallow dish of water and some food such as hedgehog food or meaty cat/dog food is also a way to go the extra mile for the hedgehogs.  
  • Small changes such as allowing gardens to grow wild in one corner will provide shelter and an abundant of insects for the hedgehogs to eat.

Guest Post by Sophie Elliott
University of Greenwich
Student sustainability projects assistant
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