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Exam Season: The Sustainable Way

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Ani Talwar’s latest article shows you how to do exam season the sustainable way. From your notes to the much needed snacks and caffeine, this article will help you save the stress for your work rather than the planet.

Credit: Ani Talwar

So, we’ve managed to swing right around and back to exam season again. Whether you’re reading this as a university student frantically trying to finish your dissertation, or a school student waiting for that first A-Level to be sat, exam season is a busy, busy time. However, there is no reason you can’t get the best of your organised notes, favourite study snacks, and the all important calming habits whilst being equally as sustainable.

Note taking:

Let’s face it, as nice as all those ideas of typewriter neat handwritten notes, colour coordinated perfectly with ruler straight lines are…we’ve all had one of those days where we write like we’ve forgotten how to hold a pen, and end up squinting sideways at our notes trying to work out what on Earth we meant all those days ago when we wrote them.

Personally, I have enjoyed the flexibility that going paperless gave me with my notes. By taking notes digitally, I can come back and edit them at any time without having arrows and crosses all over the place, and can easily correct and organise thoughts without having notebooks of draft after draft.

OneNote is a great app if you want to try and go paperless. Set out like a big digital notebook, OneNote allows you to organise Pages into Sections which can all be grouped into a Notebook. You can also subgroup pages under a common page, for example each of your lesson pages can be grouped under one page saying ‘Semester 1’ and then you can start a new group for ‘Semester 2’. OneNote also allows you the freedom to type wherever you like, as well as insert a photo wherever, and draw wherever, which means you can annotate graphs, or write in whatever layout suits your thought process, as I’ve tried to demonstrate in this little photo:

Credit: Ani Talwar

Google Drive is another great way to organise your notes without having to trawl folders between home and class. Google Drive offers a whole load of different applications you can use, from Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, to applications like Jamboard which allows you to draw, type and annotate graphs with ease. Another positive about using Google Drive is you can collaborate and share your work with anyone else that has a Google account with considerable ease.

These are the two I prefer to use most, as I find they are adaptable and flexible enough to allow me to work, organise, and access my notes on the go, but there are other options I’ve seen that might interest you, such as those mentioned in this blogpost:

Evernote, as it is especially good for the versatility of materials it can be used with, such as; audio, emails and PDF documents.

Notion is another app this blogpost recommends because it incorporates the need for group collaboration from the start and also Obsidian as an app with a bit more you have to learn to use, but good flexibility in allowing you to link up your notes and see what you’ve looked at in the past.

Do they have to be paperless?

If you don’t want to go paperless, you can still make some easy swaps and purchases to reduce the amount you waste or plastic you use. Sellotape for example now has a plastic free version which you can see here, and did you know you can get pencils with seeds inside, so that you can plant them after use and grow something? As someone who likes writing as well as typing myself, I have several of these, both coloured and writing pencils.

Credit: Ani Talwar


Now, what is a hard core revision session without a few good snacks to keep you going? Whether it’s fruit you munch on, or several chocolate bars, there are snacks you can choose to aimlessly consume that don’t have to harm the planet.

Tony’s Chocolonely is a fabulous example of the sustainable chocolate you can choose to munch on when the revision gets a bit much. With a plan to make chocolate completely free of slavery, Tony’s Chocolonely also promote a sustainable chocolate production line, working to reduce pesticide use and deforestation.

Two Farmers is another great brand if you get the revision munchies that crave savoury not sweet! With an ethos around keeping mileage low, and to have fine potatoes used, Two Farmers makes crisps that use bags completely compostable

Let’s not forget the fruit and veg either, as they make a refreshing snack for when you need a break from revising. You can switch up your snacks by having a look at what is in season at the moment, as the British Dietetic Association. According to their guide, the fruit and veg in season over May and June include Strawberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Lettuce, Pepper, Cucumber, and many more! You can also check out any community gardens near you, as one of our other WILD articles by Food and Drink Editor, Amy Leung talks about.

The Caffeine:

Whether it’s the tea, or the coffee, we all have that one friend (or are that one friend) that drinks it by the gallon, and there’s no reason you can’t fuel your exam season staples sustainably.

Bird and Blend is a brand of tea I came across by accident, and then immediately decided I needed to keep the name of. Highlighting that they are environmentally conscious, the brand offers several flavours of tea, and even a monthly subscription box! On an annual basis Bird and Blend publish goals for improving as they acknowledge that being sustainable is an adaptable process too. They are already carbon neutral, but aim to have emissions reach net zero too, and they also have recyclable/compostable packaging and a whole host of information on their sustainability front you can read here.

If Coffee is more your style, then the Sustainable Coffee Challenge might be a good place to look. A group effort between governments, NGO’s, companies and researchers, the challenge aims to increase the progress towards sustainability after it was founded in the 2015 Paris meetings for climate. They have over 150 partners in 44 counties including The British Coffee Association, and Centre for Coffee Research and Education.

Credit: Tita Beaven

The Relax:

Now, whether you work on a short and intense study schedule, or you go 9-5pm and don’t stop, when it finally gets to the end (or the beginning?) of the day where you decide to stop and chill, I’ve got your exam season ultimate sustainable relaxing needs covered.

I’ve also mentioned this one in another article, but The Wild Tree is another great shop that sells items plastic free. These include your everyday products such as bags and baking liners, but also body scrubs, and soap pouches.

Hopefully, you’re now ready to ace whatever you are prepping for this year, and you are going to do it sustainably! Good luck from the whole Wild team!

About the author: Ani Talwar is the Content Manager at WILD Magazine. Ani can be found at @Mischief.weavers; she cares passionately about sustainability and wrote the book, Atro-City, The Flood, which introduces sustainability to readers in the form of a fiction adventure.

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