• Tia Xiourouppas

Student sustainability: How important really is it?

Updated: Oct 8

The climate crisis has instilled fear into many influential figures, and campaigns and adverts promoting sustainability are rampant in the media at the moment.

Yet I often feel as though I, the common person, am faced with the pressure of sustainability. Big corporations and other influencers put pressure on everyday people to change the world but, in reality, the average person contributes much less to climate change than assumed.

In fact, The Guardian reported that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all carbon emissions, making it easy to assume one person’s effort won’t make a difference.

And whilst it is true that one individual cannot change the world, thousands of individuals coming together can create a greater positive impact than you’d believe. Even as students, there are many easy and small ways to play our part in the climate crisis, and be as sustainable as we can.

One easy and cheap way for students to reduce their impact on the environment is by limiting their purchases of single-use plastic. Plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, and can also leach toxic chemicals into the water, affecting both the environment and wildlife.

Examples of this include buying reusable water bottles. Not only do they have a much lesser impact, but they also save you lots of money. They are refillable and something you'll very rarely need to repurchase. In the UK, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used and wasted each year.

Purchasing and always carrying round glass straws is also another easy way to reduce single use plastic. While you will be saving both money and the environment, they also reduce the chances of you having to suck through a soggy paper straw ever again – an offer that no one would refuse.

Fast fashion and the overconsumption of clothing is another massive killer of the environment. For every 30kg of clothing disposed of, only 4.5kg ends up being recycled.

Buying into trends that have little longevity means more and more clothing end up in landfill. This doesn’t mean you should stop buying new clothes, it just means you should change the way you do! Buying items from sites such as Depop and Vinted can reduce excessive waste, and can also be much cheaper. You can also sell your old clothes on these sites, or even donate them to charity shops. In doing so, you are helping others out, as well as the environment.

You could even learn to DIY your own old clothes. There are countless tutorials on social media to help with this, whether you are a beginner or a whizz with sewing.

Lastly, making more notes online or reducing your printing is an easy way for students to be more sustainable. Flashcards, for example, can be made online using apps such as Quizlet. Online notes and flashcards not only stop excess trees from being removed, but they are also more interactive, and mean you are less likely to lose your work.

These are just a few of the countless small changes we as students can implement into our lives, to do our part in reducing the effects of the climate crisis. Like I mentioned earlier, one person’s effort changes nothing, but thousands of peoples' efforts could change everything.

Edited by Pia Cooper

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