From cutting meat consumption to repairing old clothes, here are some tips for students who want to go green in college
When the university doors opened in September, an estimated 6 million people around the world took to the streets in a historic week of climate action.
The power of this youth-led uprising reflected the urgency to act on the environment. And now that? For freshmen starting a new chapter in college, deciding how to live your life is vital. Here are some ideas on how you can be sustainable as a student.
What you put on your plate matters: Nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gases come from agriculture, and most of them are from meat and dairy production. Eating less meat (if you can) is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, and it will save money, too.
A meat-free diet has been recommended as the "most important way" that an individual can reduce their impact on the planet. Consumption of meat and dairy produces excessive use of land, industrial emissions, methane, water use and deforestation.
This year, scientists devised a planetary health diet, presenting a way to address the environmental (and health) impact of our food choices. It recommends that the global average consumption of red meat be cut in half, while vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts double.
Regardless of what you choose to eat, try to shop locally and seasonally. It is best to avoid the plastic packaging you find in supermarkets, and your products will have a lower carbon footprint. If you have space, even a balcony, try growing some of your own herbs or vegetables; Amazing what you can get out of a flower pot. You can also reduce food waste by planning meals in advance, reusing leftovers, and sharing meals with friends.
Forget about fast fashion - keeping your clothes as long as possible has much more than just monetary value. As an example, in the UK, clothing has the fourth highest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.
So recycle your clothes, mend or accessorize them. If you don't have those skills, see if there's a sewing association you can join, or head to a repair café where people repair clothes for free. Try swapping clothes with friends, and instead of buying new items, head to a charity or thrift organization.
If you want to buy new clothes, says Ynes Patat, a fashion student at the University of Northampton, “look at the brands that appeal to your style but do your research to see if they have sustainable qualities, like Patagonia or Pact (they reward themselves for being organic, certified GOTS, fair and ecological trade). Even some high street stores are turning to more sustainable fashion. "
For some students, it will be their first time living alone, which means doing their own decorating, washing, cooking, and cleaning. There are simple ways to change your habits to live more sustainably. Wash your clothes with the water at a lower temperature and opt for a bamboo toothbrush or more environmentally friendly sanitary products. Invest in a clothesline so you stop using a dryer (you'll be surprised how much your energy bill goes down). When you go shopping, see if there is a no-waste store nearby: try to buy "bulk" or "loose" things like dry foods, household goods, toiletries, and kitchen utensils, all without plastic packaging. Just bring your own container and reuse it as many times as you can.
Participate in campaigns
Individual actions are important as they demonstrate commitment and provide an alternative to how we can live. But campaigns and activism are also important. Universities may be the perfect place for this - most students are now concerned about climate change. If you don't know where or how to start, see if there are any groups going on at your university.
Students of the fossil free campaign, for example, have brought big changes by asking their institutions to divest from fossil fuels, and 76 UK universities have already pledged to divest.