By Bridie McArthur
It can be hard to prioritise sustainability in your academic life on top of demands such as assignments, keeping up with readings and classwork, plus balancing extracurriculars, work, and your social life. However, there are some small (and medium-sized) steps you can take to incorporate sustainability into your student life — they can quickly become a habit and blend seamlessly with other priorities and responsibilities.
Walk, carpool or take public transport
There are so many alternatives to a solo car trip that will make incorporating sustainability unto your life easier. And with these fuel prices, the planet and your wallet will thank you! Carpooling will combine sustainability with much-needed socialising. The bus or the train will give you the feeling you're having the ‘real’ uni experience and give you the chance to catch up on class readings if you’re time-poor. Walking or cycling will help you get fitter, plus take in some vitamin D and fresh air. There are so many alternatives to a solo car trip that will make incorporating sustainability unto your life easier.
Invest in sustainable materials and supplies
You can buy a cute reusable drink bottle, lunch bag, bag, utensil kit — the list goes on! These items can be expensive, but options are available to suit all budgets. These pieces will last and often end up saving you money in the long term. For example, many cafes will offer a discount if you BYO cup.
Join sustainability groups on-campus – or start one
If your school has sustainability initiatives already, join and help out. If there isn't anything like this at your school, this is a great chance for you to start something and drive change at your place of study.
Try cooking or preparing your food at home
This will help you to eat healthier, develop your cooking/food prep skills, and will reduce the amount of waste you produce by minimising takeaway packaging. Perhaps best of all, you can save a bunch of money.
Encourage your friends to join you in being more sustainable
There is power in numbers: the more people prioritising sustainability, the better, and as students you can support and help each other. Rather than preach to your friends or peers, it can be more effective to simply share the changes you’re making to your everyday life and the benefits it has brought you — those who are interested will ask more, and be most open to making changes themselves.
The most important thing with sustainability is to simply try, consistently. Don't beat yourself up for forgetting your Keep Cup one day – nobody's perfect! Just make sure you're minimising you’re waste and keeping the planet front of mind as often as you can. As a student, the future is yours, and we must do what we can to protect it.