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Ways to live more sustainably as a student

By ResLifeLeeds 04 Aug 2023

You may assume that living sustainably is hard, takes a lot of work, and is very expensive. But there are many easy and lasting ways you can make a positive impact while saving some money at university.

Here are some simple tips to get you started...

Check out our guide!

We've created a Sustainable Living Guide to let you know everything we're doing to make halls sustainable. It's also got lots of useful tips for how you can help us. 

See what tips you can follow! 

Use water wisely

Water is a precious resource that we often take for granted and use more than we need, such as letting the tap run while we brush our teeth, or taking a long shower after a busy day at uni.

Most of the time this is not necessary. You can save a lot by reducing your shower time, turning off the tap while you scrub the dishes, and always putting in a full load in the washing machine and dishwasher.

This can also cut down your water bills, so you can save money while saving the planet.

Buy second-hand clothes

You might want to get some new outfits before and during university, and choosing second-hand shopping over fast fashion is a great way to be sustainable whilst saving some cash.

Instead of spending a lot on designer, or even high street brands, you can visit charity shops and websites like Facebook Marketplace, Depop and Vinted to give clothes a second chance.

You can also sell, donate, or recycle your unwanted clothes instead of throwing them away. And if you have some clothes that need fixing, it’s a good idea to learn how to repair your own clothes to save you from buying more. This way you can easily fix holes and sew on new buttons to make them look as good as new.

a row of colorful clothes hanging on a rack

Dress according to the weather

When winter comes, you might want to turn up the heating all the time. But this can be expensive and wasteful. A better option is to wear more clothes, put on some warm socks or slippers, or use a hot water bottle to stay warm.

It’s a good idea to take advantage of the daylight too so you can use the natural light instead of keeping your lights on all day and night. Any electrical equipment should only be plugged in and switched on when you’re using it, so if you go out make sure you turn everything off.

Avoid single-use plastics

Plastic pollution is a huge problem for the environment, and not all plastics can be recycled. That’s why it’s better to use less single-use plastics as much as you can. There are many alternatives that are more eco-friendly and budget-friendly.

The Ecoegg is a great reusable product that can replace laundry detergent and fabric conditioner. It can last for up to 70 washes before you need to refill it, and it can save up to 40 bottles of plastic each year! You can also switch liquid shower gels for solid soaps in cardboard packaging, and use flannels instead of disposable wipes.

Some other items that can help are wooden or bamboo toothbrushes, metal straws, and reusable bags, cups and bottles. You can refill your water bottle from dispensers on campus, and get discounts from some cafes if you bring your KeepCup.

a close up of a washing machine

Pick greener ways to travel

Do you usually take the bus or taxi to uni? If the campus is not too far from where you live, you could save money and emissions by walking instead. Public transport can also be unpredictable, so walking might be less stressful and more enjoyable (you don’t want to miss a lecture because of a traffic jam).

Cycling is another eco-friendly and active way of getting around your city and can even be faster than public transport on busy days. Don’t worry if you don’t have a bike, you can find a cheap second-hand one quite easily. And there are plenty of places to lock them up, you’ll just need a good quality D-Lock.

These are just some small changes that can not only save the environment, but also save you some money at uni too. Little changes can make a big impact!