How to Live Sustainably at University

There is no denying that climate change is happening, and the sad fact is that it’s going to affect today’s young people the most in years to come. That’s why we love students who are passionate about sustainable living. Doing your bit for the environment doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or require a big lifestyle overhaul. It can also mean more £££ in your pocket and a serious feel good factor! Read on for how you can me a difference.

Go plastic free

- Ditch the single-use plastic by buying yourself a reusable water bottle. Not only will this encourage you to keep more hydrated, but it can also be a fashion statement in itself. Check out the best reusable bottles and download the Refill app to find your nearest water station.  

- We know your vodka and coke just wouldn’t be the same without being slurped through a straw, which is why you should ditch the single-use plastic and soggy paper straws to invest in good quality metal straws, saving you money in the long run. The world’s sea life will also thank you as standard straws can cause significant damage to our oceans. 

- Since the 5p charge came into force across the UK in 2015, the usage of single-use plastic bags has fallen by 86% and reduced the number of carrier bags going to landfill by over 6 billion. That’s why you should remember to take your reusable shopping bags every time you shop. 

- If you’re keen to make the stride in to ditching plastic for good, check out The Plastic Free Shop for innovative alternatives to everyday household essentials. 

Food & drink

- 5,000 disposable cups are used every minute in the UK and only 12 of these are likely to get recycled. If you can’t function in the morning before your caffeine fix, it’s worth carrying a reusable coffee cup. Many of the big coffee chains offer discounts or extra loyalty points for those who are thinking of their environmental impact. 

- Rather than shop in large supermarkets which often use unnecessary packaging, why not try shopping locally to support your local community? Markets, butchers and fruit & veg shops often use recyclable paper bags instead and you could also save yourself money on your weekly shop. Better still, why not take your own containers along and ditch the waste all together?  

- Wherever you can, it’s best to buy the family packs, or larger containers of your favourite cereal, coffee or sauces as this often means less packaging and more product for your money. You could agree to share with housemates to ensure it will be consumed by the ‘use-by’ date shown.

- Introducing one vegan day a week is a great way to cut your meat intake and carbon footprint whilst also encouraging you to eat healthier. Check out Meat Free Monday to get loads of Insta worthy recipe inspo from celebrity endorsers Stella McCartney, Sir Richard Branson and Gwyneth Paltrow. 


- Although most of us would love to reside in a hot country, we all know the UK is far from it and we often need the heating to keep us toastie through the winter (and beyond). But next time you reach to turn up the thermostat, why not take a minute to think whether or not it’s really necessary, or whether throwing on that oversized comforting jumper or snuggling under a blanket will do the trick? Although all UniHomes homes are all inclusive, we would still encourage you to keep your heating below 21 degrees to help the planet.  

- Do you really need to wash on a high temperature? All that energy heating up the water for your washing machine could be unnecessary, and washing at 30 degrees more often than not, does just a good a job. You could also ask your housemates if they have any washing to throw in rather than running the cycle half empty. After the cycle has finished, give your laundry that fresh smell by hanging on an outdoor washing line rather than using a tumble dryer. 

- It’s tempting to jump in to a steaming hot shower when you’re forced to leave the comfort of your bed in a morning, but did you know there are many benefits of a cold shower? Not only will it keep your energy consumption down, but it will also work wonders for your skin and nails as hot water can strip away natural oils and dry it out. Leaving hair to dry naturally is also much better for it than blasting with the hair dryer. 


- Stop junk mail in it’s tracks by sticking a “No Junk Mail” sign close to your letter box. Unless it’s a new take away opening up next door, we don’t want to hear about it. 

- Moving to a new city throws all sorts of hurdles your way, but make sure you know what each of the bins are for at your new student pad. If you’re unsure of when bin day is or what you can and can’t recycle, make sure finding out on your local councils’ website is top of the to do list, otherwise you’ll end up with a mountain of rubbish in the back yard and inevitably, rats. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!


- If you’re one of the many students without a car, be smug in the fact that you’re causing less harmful emissions than your petrol-head peers, but even getting the bus to uni is second on the lazy list. Swapping just one journey a week to either walking, running or cycling can do wonders for the environment, health and pocket. 

Clothing & Beauty

- We live in a world where cheap, disposable fashion has become the norm and many wouldn’t think twice about buying an outfit from Primarni just to wear it once. However, this is devastating for the countries manufacturing the garments and isn’t sustainable. Find a treasure in a charity shop to make sure your money is going to a good cause, or borrow from your good friends and find endless outfits! 

- When you look in your wardrobe and it’s bursting at the seams but you still don’t have anything to wear, it’s time to sell your pre-loved clothes online. Check out this article for tips in doing so and best sites to sell on.

- Do you really know where your clothes are made and what the impact is? Do your cosmetics have non-sustainable palm oil listed in the ingredients? Before you click “check out” do a little more research in to your favourite brands to make sure as a consumer, you’re doing all you can to protect the world we live in. Any good retailer should be open and transparent about where they manufacture goods. This article has the inside information on the most ethical designer and high street brands

Be more sustainable in your city


- Newcastle University’s Student Union are in need of the 2 litre plastic bottles as they aim to create a greenhouse from discarded waste. Instead of throwing these away take your bottles to the trolley located in the NUSU building. 

- If you’re keen to do more to help your local environment, why not find out more or join Newcastle Uni’s The Eco Society

- You can find out more about sustainability at Newcastle University here


- Join the University of Sheffield’s Campus Cup scheme which offers 20p discount on any regular take away hot drink, purchased in your own reusable coffee cup. 

- Sheffield Student’s are committed to sustainability and at the Union’s Zero Waste Shop you can get all your household essentials, from laundry detergent to herbs and spices, with no wasteful packaging. Just take along your own container, buy one in store or use a recyclable paper bag. 

- Sheffield Hallam Uni are also doing their bit and you can check out their policy on sustainability here


- The University of Leeds Annual Student Sustainability Research Conference is happening on Friday 29th March so make sure you pop along to here all about University of Leeds and Leeds University Union’s #2023PlasticFree pledge or register to listen to key note speaker Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey. 

- The ‘Leeds Bins’ app sends helpful reminders about which bin needs putting out and offers extra guidance on recycling.

As you make the move towards living a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s important to share your new found green knowledge with family and friends so they can implement similar changes to help reduce environmental impact and the effects of climate change.

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