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Sustainable Student: A Day in the Life

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Concerned about the environment but not sure how you can help? Violet Hatch shares her top tips for being as sustainable as possible as a student.

Sustainability is something we’ve all heard about in school. That distant year 7 biology lesson, the teacher rambling on about fossil fuels whilst you were probably doodling. However, lots of students are becoming more ethically aware with reportedly more than two thirds of us wanting to know more about sustainability and more and more of us understanding the importance of sustainable living. It can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you have never really considered the environmental impact of everyday habits, often the cheapest and most convenient options seem far simpler.

Well fear not. Below are examples of how you can live sustainably as a student on a budget, going back to basics with easy little changes that will help save some time, money and most importantly- the planet!

7:30 AM- Rise and shine! 

Instead of using disposable products such as makeup wipes to remove that shameful morning panda-eye, consider using a reusable cloth or biodegradable makeup wipes. Why not try an organic roll on deodorant instead of a spray so you are not releasing chemicals into the air? There are plenty of alternative options out there to keep you smelling fresh throughout the day!

Try to stick to sustainably produced make up and brushes too

8:30 AM- Off to our lectures we go! 

Whether walking, cycling, taking the bus, hopping, skipping, jumping etc. It’s wonderful that there are so many ways to get to university that do not cause so much harm to the environment. If you do drive in, consider finding your nearest bus stop, walk or cycle instead. You could even count it as your daily exercise!

9 AM- Time to get to work. 

Are you a laptop worker or a notepad worker? Do make sure you recycle if you like to write your notes or consider changing to using a laptop. Try reading off your laptop instead of printing tonnes of sheets of paper (that may well get lost, or just left under your bed and forgotten about). Making these small changes will help you to cut down on the impact you make on deforestation. Not only that, working on a laptop means you can keep your notes all in one place instead of scouring your bedroom floor in search of lost sheets.

11AM- When that mid-morning coffee slump inevitably hits

Don’t forget your snazzy reusable coffee cup. Whether pink or glittery with a witty slogan, be sure to bring it with you on to campus to help reduce waste from disposable cups. Keep your eye out for money off drinks at some campus coffee bars when you bring your own reusable cup for an extra perk!

Carry reusables everywhere

1 PM- Lunch

The best tip with lunch on those busy days is to pre-prepare. Let’s be honest here, who likes queuing for fifteen minutes to buy a bland over-priced cheese sandwich that is covered in plastic packaging? Instead, why not get a reusable plastic container and fill it something yummy. A healthy salad? A pre-prepared meal? Last night’s leftovers? Whatever you like! If you’re stuck for ideas, why not browse WILD Magazine’s food and drink section, perhaps cook up an exciting vegan dish if you’re feeling adventurous.

4PM- Time to take a study break! 

Take your study breaks outside

After a long day you just want to go home and chill out. Every form of heating contributes to pollution, and in these cold wintery months, it is tempting to whack your heating right up to high. To save energy, costs and the environment, consider finding alternative ways to keep warm. Perhaps a jumper, a hot water bottle or even your favourite onesie. Whatever floats your boat!

This owl hot water bottle is a real ‘hoot’!

8PM- Time to get glammed up for a night on the town. 

What to wear? Try to find a few gorgeous staple pieces for your wardrobe. Throw-away fashion is one of the biggest issues affecting the environment and let’s face it, most student housing is not equipped with the storage for having tonnes of clothes. So, choose those favourite five seasonal pieces that will keep you feeling glam without spending a fortune on clothes that you’re only going to wear once or twice.

11PM- Pre-drinks with your mates.

Mind those plastic cups… try to reuse them if possible or use your own if you feel you can trust your friends with them! If straws are a must, invest in some reusable metal or bamboo ones instead.

Ditch the disposables

Above all, my top tip is to remember to be prepared. If you prepare your warm clothes, food for the day and method of transport, it will be so much easier to make sustainable choices and form them into good habits. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to organise yourself as a university student, but hopefully these tips will help you to be a little more efficient and live more sustainably too.

Photo Credits: Violet Hatch

About the Author: Violet Hatch is a student at the University of York, studying English Literature.

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