How to reduce your carbon footprint at university

Aimee Clyneon 31 March 2021
How to reduce your carbon footprint at university

Reducing your carbon footprint is a great way to do your bit for the planet, and it may be easier than you think.

Here are some actionable lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your carbon footprint at university:

1. Change your food habits

A major contributor to our carbon footprint is the food we buy, because both the production and transportation of food produce greenhouse gases. One way you can help is to reduce the amount of food you throw away. Food waste is a big issue across the UK that massively contributes to our carbon footprint. By making a shopping list and sticking to it, planning your meals, and only buying what you need, you can reduce your food waste and carbon footprint and save money doing it. 

In addition to rethinking how much food we buy, it’s important to think about what we are buying too. Plant-based food has a lower carbon footprint, so try cooking some vegetarian or vegan recipes or have a meat-free day each week. Also, look out for sustainability certificates on food (such as the MSC logo on fish products), and buy food in season. 

2. Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Reducing waste, reusing items, and recycling are ways of lowering your carbon footprint that is easy to implement into student life. 

You can reduce your waste by wasting less food, avoiding single-use items, and using fewer resources. For example, only printing things you need means less paper is used unnecessarily. Other ways to reduce waste include spending less time in the shower and remembering to switch electrical items off when you’re not using them. 

Using reusable items, such as reusable water bottles, travel mugs, and shopping bags, will cut down on waste produced by single-use items. You could also buy things second-hand, like clothes and textbooks, to give a second life to items that might otherwise be thrown away. Or, you could sell or donate your unwanted items, which is much better for the environment than sending them to a landfill. 

Recycling is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Sorting out your rubbish, so that paper, glass, tins, and plastic don’t unnecessarily end up in landfill means that fewer resources are used, making completely new products, meaning less greenhouse gases are produced. Most of us remember to recycle our kitchen waste, but be sure to include bathroom waste, such as plastic shampoo bottles, too. And it’s not just household waste that you can give new life to; recycling or selling any old electrical items you have, like old mobile phones, reduces demand for the materials used in their production.

3. Use your voice

You can advocate for more environmentally-friendly policies at your university through your Students’ Union by working with your university’s sustainability committee or society. If there isn’t a sustainability group at your university, you could start one yourself. You could help encourage your university to reduce its carbon footprint by using less energy, installing more recycling bins, and sourcing food from local suppliers. You could also support campaigns to help other students learn more about reducing their carbon footprint. 

Similarly, ensure you are registered to vote. Being able to vote in local and national elections is one way to use your voice to advocate for the environment and more initiatives to help everyone lower their carbon footprint, such as investment in greener transport. 

How are you reducing your carbon footprint? Join our panel and let us know. You’ll get a free £10 Amazon voucher when you sign up.

Aimee Clyneon 31 March 2021