How to Reduce your Impact on the Environment as a Student!

In the School of Law, we are aiming for the Gold Green Impact Award! Over the last year we have been recycling, ensuring staff are only printing necessary documents, reducing our use of single-use plastics and more! For Earth Day, we thought we would take the opportunity to suggest some ways that you can reduce your impact on the environment too.

1. Invest in a reusable water bottle

Carrying a water bottle around with you in your uni bag will save you money and the amount of plastic on the planet! There are lots of refill stations throughout the campus, just search ‘water’ in or fill up your bottle in the Law Common Room’s kitchen in 5S.6.17.

2. Purchase a reusable bag and actually use it!

Yes, we’ve all been there! You’re at the checkout in Tesco and you realise that you don’t have a bag to carry your shopping in, so you simply buy a new one. These are only better than single use plastic bags, if you reuse them! One way to solve this vicious cycle is by keeping a reusable bag inside your uni bag at all times – this way you won’t get caught out. If you invest in a cotton tote bag with a design you like on it, this might encourage you to use it more than a standard Tesco bag.

One of our famous tote bags, you often see students and staff with these whilst on campus or further afield!

3. Donate, sell or re-purpose unwanted items

All of these options will reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. Each have their own benefits: donating is a great way to raise money for a cause, selling items is a good way to gain some extra money and re-purposing an item can be a great project to take your mind off your studies. There is a donation bank near North Towers and the small ads mailing list allows you to sell second hand items to other students here at Essex!

4. Remember to turn it off

Turn the light off when you leave a room and unplug your phone/laptop once its finished charging! This will save on power and reduce your electricity bill. The same applies for water – switch the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth and fill your sink when you are washing your dishes rather than washing everything under running water. Similarly, put a jumper on or wrap yourself up in a blanket before you turn the heating on!

5. Do your washing when your laundry basket is full and dry your clothes on a clothes horse

Keeping on top of your laundry whilst at uni seems like an impossible task! This can be a good thing as having a full load in the washing machine will increase your water and energy efficiency. If you have an item of clothing that you are really desperate to wear, then you can hand wash it by soaking the item in some water with detergent, or see if one of your friends is doing a load of washing. Similarly, drying your clothes on a clothes horse will save on energy and money.

6. Reduce your consumption of meat

The meat industry creates a huge amount of greenhouse gases, which contributes towards global warming. It’s great if you want to stop contributing to these greenhouse gases by becoming vegan. However, this isn’t ideal for everyone. Start by eating less red meat, then eat one meat-free meal per week, then when you feel more confident you can increase your amount of plant based meals. Slowly reducing your consumption of meat will make it easier to break the habit than going cold turkey (no pun intended!).

7. Buy loose fruit and vegetables

Buying fruit and vegetables that are loose will reduce your amount of plastic waste. There’s often plastic free options in supermarkets, or you can visit the farmer’s market on Square 3, every Thursday!

8. Buy second hand clothing

Buying second hand clothing from charity shops is a great way to prevent fast-fashion and donate to charity. But, if staying on trend is important to you, why not try depop? You can look for all your favourite brands, whilst getting them for an absolute bargain. Additionally, the SU often has vintage clothing sales in Sub Zero each term so keep an eye out!

9. Learn how to recycle properly

Recycling is becoming more accessible. You can separate rubbish into food waste, plastic, paper and general waste. Please make sure you are putting your rubbish into the correct bin. If not, you are contaminating that whole bin and it cannot be recycled! For example, pizza boxes cannot be recycled because they are covered in food waste and grease. Unsure about what you can recycle? Read Colchester Borough Council’s guidelines.

10. Educate others

There are so many ways that we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. We have only scratched the surface in this post. The more people who know how to reduce their impact, the better. You could arrange to buy groceries from the market on Square 3 with your housemates or carpool with your course friends to your classes. These may seem like small choices but they make a big impact over time!

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