Tips and Tricks
There are so many ways by which you can make a difference to sustainability in your everyday life with very little effort!
Walking and Cycling
Of course, cars, taxis and buses cost money. But by walking or cycling instead, you can save yourself plenty of money and stay fit. Buying a bus ticket a few times each week, a taxi to the shops or a tank of petrol every fortnight soon adds up (in both money and pollution). However, a £100 investment in a decent bike will lead to great savings compared with other forms of transport and reduce your carbon footprint.
If, for example, you need a new desk, lamp or kettle, then, before you run out and buy one, check out Freecycle. This website works just like eBay or craigslist, except everything is free! By reusing an old appliance or piece of furniture, you will save money and the energy that would have gone into making the new one.
Need an outfit or pair of jeans? Then, rather than buy brand new from a big retail store, visit a charity shop and get it second-hand. You can always find bargains there, and avoid the energy that would have gone into making a new item!
Bags for Life
With carrier bags now costing at least 5p by law, they can really add up. Plus, they cannot be recycled easily and can be extremely harmful to wildlife. So, make sure to get a bag and life and remember it when you go shopping.
Take Notes Electronically
Over the course of a degree, the amount of paper you use can be massive. While some people much prefer to use paper, there are programs like Evernote or OneNote that make note-taking easy, meaning that your whole degree will be available on your laptop or tablet.
Reusable Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles can take as long as 3,000 years to degrade in landfill, and even when recycled, the energy cost of producing a new bottle of water is a huge waste of materials. Get yourself a nice, sturdy water bottle and it should last you the whole of your degree.
If you have periods, tampons and sanitary towels are great for personal hygiene, but their cost and the waste they produce can really stack up. Often, they cannot be recycled at all. A good alternative is Mooncup, a silicone cup that can last for several years.
Reduce Animal Consumption
A diet high in meat and other animal products is simply more damaging to the environment than a vegetarian or vegan diet – while a meat lover's diet will add 3.3 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, a vegetarian will only contribute 1.7 tonnes, and a vegan 1.5 tonnes! To find out more, check out www.cowspiracy.com/facts.
Cooking together can not only keep your bills down by shopping in bulk, but also by using less gas and electricity for cooking, as the oven and hob will be on for less time.
It is easy to lose track of when the recycling needs to go out, and whose turn it is to do this. So, making a weekly rota can make a difference in keeping recyclables out of the general waste bin.
Washing-up liquid, particularly some budget brands, contain harmful detergents that can be damaging in the water cycle and are difficult for local authorities to filter out once it goes down the drain. These chemicals can make it into a river and affect fish. Try using more natural detergent such as Ecover.
Washing clothes can use a lot of energy, and drying your clothes even more. So, wait until you have a full load before doing your washing. And instead of a tumble dryer, put your clothes on to a drying rack and, if necessary, move this into the warmest room in the house.
Switching Off Devices
It is amazing how much energy you can save by switching your charger off once your phone battery is full or powering down your laptop while you are not using it. These small savings add up, and are especially important at evening peak times, when the electricity grid is at its most inefficient. If you can, try charging phones and laptops overnight instead of during the day.
Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, or even new halogen ones, use up to ten times the amount of electricity (and money) to run. So, switch to LED ones and save!
Turn Down Thermostat
It might be cold, but turning your thermostat down just one degree will save quite a bit of money, and your housemates will thank you in the long run. Make sure to close all doors/windows and draw the curtains at night to help keep the heat in!