There are so many ways you can help make a difference to sustainability in your everyday life with very little effort!
It goes without saying, but cars, taxis and buses cost money, and walking or cycling doesn’t. If you are able to, walking or cycling to Uni is a great way to stay fit and over time can save you a ton of money. Buying a bus ticket a few times a week, a taxi to the shops, or a tank of petrol every fortnight soon adds up (in both money AND pollution). For speeding around Selly, nothing can beat the simplicity of a bicycle. A £100 investment in a decent bike will pay for itself in a few months if you’re a heavy bus/taxi user, you’ll see great savings as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
Get on Freecycle
If you’re looking for a new desk, lamp, kettle, even a bed, then before you run out and buy one, check free cycle! Freecycle is a website that works just like eBay or craigslist, except everything is free, since the person doesn’t think it’s worth the bother trying to sell it, or because they want to give it a good home. By reusing an old appliance or piece of furniture you’ll literally pay nothing, and you’ll save all the energy that would have gone into making the new one, so again you’ll help the planet! (Link: www.freecycle.org)
Check out the Charity Shop
If you’re looking for a new outfit or just a new pair of jeans, consider 2nd hand at charity shops and markets rather than the brand new from a big chain-store. You can always find bargains if you look long enough, and you also avoid the energy that would go into making a new item! This is a great way to save money and the environment at the same time.
Bag for Life
Now that carrier bags are at least 5p by law, they can really add up! Carrier bags are terrible for the environment because they can’t easily be recycled and can be really harmful for wildlife if they are dumped outside or get into a river or the sea. Save yourself some money and help protect the local wildlife by getting yourself a sturdy bag for life and remembering it!
Take notes electronically
The amount of paper you can get through over the course of a degree can be absolutely massive! While some people much prefer to use paper, if you don’t mind, there are some great programs like Evernote or OneNote that make note-taking easy, with all your notes from your whole degree right on your computer or tablet. If you can stick to digital notes, you save loads or paper, and money, over the course of your degree. Check out www.evernote.com
Get a reusable water bottle
A good-quality reusable water bottle can save you quite a bit at that moment when you’re stuck in the library and end up buying rip-off bottled water. Plastic bottles can take as long as 3,000 years to bio-degrade in landfill, and even when recycled, the energy cost of producing a new bottle of water each time is a huge waste of materials. Get yourself a nice, sturdy water bottle and it should last you the whole of your degree.
Consider using a Moon Cup, if you have periods
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, and often they can’t be recycled at all, ending up in incinerators. A good alternative is Moon Cup, a silicone cup that can be used instead of sanitary towels, and can last you up to 10 years! Check it out at http://www.mooncup.co.uk/
Reduce consumption of animal products
A diet high in meat and other animal products is more damaging to the environment than a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s that simple. A meat lover’s diet will add 3.3 tonnes of Co2 to the atmosphere each year, while a vegetarian will only contribute 1.7 tonnes, and a vegan 1.5! To find out more about the impact of our diets on the environment, check out www.cowspiracy.com/facts.
Cooking together (if you’re not on meal plan) as a flat not only reduces waste and cuts down on costs, but it also saves massively in the energy used for cooking. Having the oven on for an hour instead of 5 will add up to a huge amount of Co2 saved as a flat each year.
Make yourselves a recycling rota
It’s easy to lose track of when the recycling needs to go out, and whose turn it is to take out the recycling, but when the bins’ full, it can so easily end up in the general waste. Making a rota of whose job it is this week can really make a difference in keeping recyclables out of your general waste bin.
Environmentally friendly washing up
Detergents such as 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 river and onto crops which can affect wildlife, especially fish. Try using more natural detergent such as Ecover: https://www.ecover.com, which doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
Doing your laundry together
Washing clothes can take a lot of energy, and most of all drying your clothes uses loads! When doing you washing, consider going together and sharing a wash, or waiting until you have a full load before you press go.
Switching off your gadgets
It’s amazing how much energy you can save by switching your phone charger off once it’s full or powering down your laptop while you’re not using it. These small electricity savings really add up, and are especially important in peak times in the evening, when the electricity grid is at its most inefficient. If you can, try charging phones and laptops overnight instead of during the day.
Get yourself some energy saving bulbs
This is by far the best thing you can do. Old fashioned incandescent light bulbs, or even new halogen ones, use up to 10 times the amount of electricity (and money) to run. Switching just three of these old fashioned three bulbs for our LED ones could save your house a whopping £58 a year and will take you about 2 minutes! (Picture of incandescent next to LED bulb also in Web folder – AB need to source this….)
Switch the darn thing off!
Making sure that you don’t leave the TV on if no one is watching it, or making sure all the downstairs lights are off when everyone goes to bed is a really easy way to help reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Try hibernating computers that are left on while you take a shower or cook dinner, or switch off the TV at the plug instead of leaving it on stand-by. If it’s not switched on, it can’t be costing you money!
Crank that thermostat down!
"Don’t say that, it’s cold!" Yeah I know it’s cold, but turning your thermostat down just 1 degree will save you quite a bit of money, and your housemates will thank you in the long run. Making sure that all the doors and windows are closed and the curtains are drawn at night will help keep the heat in, and putting an extra blanket on the bed instead will save you some dosh.
Step away from the tumble dryer!
We all like to put those warm clothes on straight from the tumble dryer, but dryers gobble up your electricity like nothing else, and using a drying rack instead will save you loads over the year. If your clothes are taking too long to dry, try moving them into the warmest room in the house, usually your bedroom or even the kitchen, as you’ll be using the same heat for two jobs!
Consider cooking together
Cooking together not only saves you money because shopping in bulk is cheaper, it also keeps your bills down because it means you’ll use less gas and less electricity for cooking as the oven and rings will be on for less time. In a big house where you all cook separately, then only using the oven for 1 hour instead of 5 will save you heaps over the year.