A Student’s Guide To Becoming An Environmentalist

Natural disasters seem to be the order of the day right now. First Hurricane Harvey, which led to catastrophic flooding in Houston. Then came Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm to take place in the Atlantic Ocean to date. And unless we get a grip on our waste and greenhouse gas emissions, there’s only worse to come.

As a financially challenged student you might think that there’s little you can do to protect the environment. Wrong! Little changes to your lifestyle and a bit of extra effort can make all the difference.


Recycle, even if it’s ‘inconvenient’!

Recycling waste such as plastic, cardboard and glass saves heaps of energy, and reduces the amount of waste that is sent off to produce greenhouse gases in landfill sites. It’s an essential weapon in the fight against climate change. If you’re living away from home and you’re unsure of how to go about recycling in your area, ask your council for guidance.

So why is it that some people can’t be bothered? A study found that half of the adult population in the US don’t recycle on a daily basis, their main reason being that it’s too ‘inconvenient’ to do so. Well, it’s probably more convenient than finding yourself without a planet to inhabit.


Donate old clothes and belongings to charity

Whilst you might not have use for them, your old clothes, electronics, books, and household items could all be put to use by someone else. No energy is needed to donate old stuff to charity, except yours to take you to the nearest charity shop.

If something is broken beyond repair then it’s back to recycling! Recycling locations for belongings that can’t be reused are easy enough to find. Damaged electronics such as broken phones can even be taken to certain shops that will recycle them for you.


Reduce your intake of meat and dairy products

Many people don’t realise that what you eat can actually have a detrimental effect on the environment. At a glance, you’d presume that most people turn to a vegetarian or vegan diet based on their love for animals. Truth be told, a lot of people actually sacrifice meat and dairy because they want to protect the environment.

The meat and dairy industries use up tonnes of fertiliser, pesticides, food and, most importantly, water. That’s a whole load of energy being used to fatten up livestock, or to keep them alive for dairy production. On top of that, you’ve got the pollution that’s produced. Water pollution, air pollution; you name it.

The production of veg is a lot simpler, uses far less energy and is therefore way more environmentally friendly. Think about it; the process doesn’t involve raising animals and keeping them alive, so it’s better for the environment. Simple.


Walk to uni  

Okay, so dragging yourself out of bed for your 9am is hard enough without physical exertion. But you’ll be doing your bit to help reduce pollution by choosing foot over wheel. Leave your car behind now and again.

The same goes for other ventures out. Don’t drive to the off-licence that’s literally a five minute walk from your flat. It’s those little changes that make all the difference to the world we live in.


Never ever litter

Littering is super gross but many will find it tempting when they’re out and about with no bin in sight. Avoid the temptation! Litter on the street can get washed away and end up in open waters like the ocean, killing animals and polluting the water as it goes. Litter is also a pro at spreading diseases. Ew.

Next time you’re about to dump an empty can, remember the damage it can cause and keep hold of it until you find a proper bin.


Lights out!

Getting into the habit of turning the lights out when you leave the room or house will help save energy. Remember: you don’t need all the lights in the house on just because it’s dark outside. If you’re not using a room, switch out the lights and do your bit for the environment. It really is that straightforward.


Don’t use the dryer

Okay so if you’ve had an emergency outfit change before a night out and need to use the dryer, we get it. But sticking clothes in the dryer on a day-to-day basis isn’t helping anyone. They’re one of the least energy efficient household appliances, and electric ones release a fair amount of CO2 emissions. Try hanging your clothes out to dry instead. Plus it’ll save you money on bills.


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