Student life can be quite hectic sometimes – juggling your workload, social life, commuting and any part time jobs or volunteering you might do on the side. Trying to watch your carbon footprint or worrying about the environment on top of that might seem quite daunting.

But now, as the discussion of climate change, plastic waste and being sustainable becomes more relevant, it’s so much easier to try and be more eco-friendly. There are some very simple things you can do as a student, alongside your busy schedule, to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. Little changes are better than nothing and will help you create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle! Make sure to share them with your housemates, coursemates and family!β™»οΈπŸŒΏ

The background image shows a coffee pot and next to it is a transparent reusable glass cup. The image credit is Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash. In the foreground in white text it says 'Tip 1 - Bring a reusable cup to university'

1 – Bring a reusable cup to university

Nothing gets you through a 9am lecture like grabbing a coffee from one of the Salfood shops on campus, believe me I know. But did you know the UK throws away around 2.5 billion disposable cups a year [PDF]? Instead of contributing to that number, invest in a reusable mug or drinking thermos and get your coffee, tea or hot chocolate to go in one of them. Plus you get 20p off your hot drink in all Salfood outlets! Win win!

The background shows a bathroom sink and silver tap. In the foreground there is white text that says 'Tip 2 - Watch your water use'

2 – Watch your water use

It’s very easy to forget how important water conservation is and studies state that a demand for water globally is set to exceed supply 40% by 2030. The bonus is that, as a student, it’s quite simple to watch your water usage. Make sure you turn off the tap during brushing your teeth, or shorten your time in the shower. We all know that one flatmate who fills the entire flat sink to wash two teaspoons. Educate them!

The background image shows someone looking through a rack of colourful clothes on hangers. The image source is Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash. In the foreground there is text that says 'Tip 3 - Buy secondhand clothes'

3 – Need a weekend outfit? Try secondhand

Manchester is fantastic for picking up secondhand and vintage fashion, with Northern Quarter having some great shops which you can check out in India’s top picks here! Freshers weeks and society nights at university can mean wanting to grab a new outfit to impress, but buying clothes secondhand is a lot better for the environment. If charity shops aren’t your thing, try downloading DEPOP where others sell their clothing and accessories they no longer need or want.

Image source is Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash. In the background you can see a shot of the upper corner and handle of a beige cotton tote bag. The foreground has white text that reads 'Tip 4 - Ditch the plastic bags'.

4 – Ditch the plastic bags

The negative impact of plastic bags has been discussed for years and thankfully since the introduction of the 5p charge, studies reckon the sale of plastic bags has gone down. Help keep those numbers down by using reusable bags when you do the food shop! Numerous shops across Manchester and Salford sell reusable bags that can be used again and again.

Image source is Photo by Kevin McCutcheon on Unsplash. In the background there is a black bowl filled with a chickpea and vegetable salad or meal. In the bowl you can see chickpeas, mushrooms, onions, greens and a slice of lemon. In the foreground white text reads 'Tip 5 -Eat more veggie meals'.

5 – Eat more veggie meals

Although this is something that might divide opinion – scientists have stated that cutting down on meat and dairy is a guaranteed way to be more eco-friendly. Understandably, some days after a long study session you might just want a Big Mac or a cheesy pizza more than anything. However if you want to be a bit better to the environment, try cutting down on meaty meals. There’s plenty of choices throughout Manchester, especially with veganism becoming mainstream. Even Wetherspoons has veggie options!

Image source is Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash. In the background is a wide shot of the inside of a public transport bus. People are sat in the purple chairs and it is daylight outside. The framework and handles in the bus interior are red. The foreground shows white text that reads 'Tip 7 - Buy Digital Transport tickets'

6 – Buy digital transport tickets

We’re very lucky to have a number of public transport options next to our main campus including several bus services and the Salford Crescent train station. Using phone apps such as Trainline, mTickets for First buses, the Stagecoach Bus App or GetMeThere you can not only reduce your waste and the amount of crumpled up tickets sitting in your coat pocket but also buy tickets in advance and save yourself time and hassle.

Image source is Photo by bady qb on Unsplash. In the background is the top of a stainless steel water bottle with a silver top and a blue/white pattern. In the foreground in white text it reads 'Tip 7 - Refill your water bottle'

7 – Refill your water bottle

Much like carrying a reusable coffee cup, using a reusable water bottle has great benefits to the environment and helps save plastic bottles from going to landfill. You can also use the Refill phone app to find cafes or establishments that let you refill your water bottle for free whilst you’re visiting the rest of Salford and Manchester. We have refill stations dotted around campus too so you can keep yourself hydrated between classes.

The image source is Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash. In the background there is a number of different makeup brushes some with purple handles or gold handles that are laid across a black cloth. In the foreground there is white text that reads 'Tip 8 - Switch from wipes to a face cloth'

8 – Switch from makeup wipes to a cloth

I won’t lie – I, personally, enjoy the convenience of makeup wipes especially as a student. After classes, studying, work, society meetings and the lot, you are knackered and taking off makeup with one wipe and barely any effort is the lazy student’s dream. However, 93% of blocked UK sewage pipes are caused by wet wipes, and even if you’re sensible enough to not flush them – they still end up in landfill. Investing in a reusable face cloth and cleanser prevents disposable wipes going to landfill plus makeup wipes aren’t even good for your skin!

Image source is Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash. In the background it shows a shot of the side of an open laptop that is in use as someone is typing on the keyboard. The foreground has white text that reads 'Tip 9 - Clear out your emails'.

9 – Clear out your emails

Although it is obvious using email prevents paper waste piling up and also helps everyone speed up important communication (imagine having to write a letter to your tutor asking a question regarding a very important assignment and having to wait for days to get a letter back?). But storing countless emails actually consumes energy. According to one study, if every single person in France deleted 50 emails, the energy savings would be equivalent to turning the Eiffel Tower’s lights off for 42 years. So, it’s a great idea to make a habit to clear out your junk folder every week and delete old emails when you can.

The image source is Photo by Raychan on Unsplash. In the background shows the hand of someone wearing a mustard yellow jumper holding a small red metal basket that is filled with fresh strawberries. In the foreground white text reads 'Tip 10 - Choose shops that promote sustainability'

10 – Choose shops that promote sustainability and being eco-friendly

Most shops who sell genuine organic, sustainable products are independent or local so Manchester is a great place to start with making your student life more eco-friendly. It doesn’t stop at fantastic vintage shops and vegetarian cafes, our city also has some incredible places that sell loose fruit and vegetables, encourage you to bring your own jars and tupperware so you can stock up on loose nuts and cereal and even have refill stations for shampoo and washing products. These hidden gems of Manchester include McCall’s Organics near the Arndale, Eighth Day Co-op and there’s even One Small Step which can be found in Altrincham Markets if you’d like a day out on the Metrolink!

Image source is Photo by Laura Mitulla on Unsplash. It shows several glass jars with metal lids that have produce in it. On the left is a tall jar that has dry spaghetti in. The jar next to it seems to have oats inside it. This is against a white background.

If working in a career involved in the environment, conservation or animals is something that interests you then you could also consider taking a big step and apply for a degree relevant to those topics. Who knows, you might help change the world. 🌍

Here are some of our relevant courses:

🌻BSc (Hons) Environmental Management

🌻BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

🌻BSc (Hons) Wildlife and Practical Conservation