Under Threat: staying environmentally conscious while studying

At Lifestyle, we are starting a series exploring the issue of sustainability and how small changes can result in us leading more sustainable lives. Each article will cover a different area of everyday life and what changes can be made to limit your individual impact on the environment. We aim to make these changes as simple as they can be and at the same cost or cheaper than the normal alternatives.

As students at a major university, we produce a lot of waste. All of those printed un-used readings, those lecture slides with a few scribbled notes, those plastic one-use coffee cups. Being environmentally conscious has never been more crucial than it is is right now so, read on to discover some tips for being more sustainable as you study.

Prevention is key: Recycling (correctly!) is very important and is made easy for us in our daily student lives, what with university buildings having separate and clearly-labelled bins for rubbish, plastic, and paper recycling. The best way to be sustainable while studying is to prevent the need to recycle at all. This means producing less waste and contributing to fewer waste-producing practices.

Use reusable containers and bottles: This one requires a bit of planning and (just a bit!) of spending, though it will ultimately result in saving money. Reusable water bottles come in all shapes, colours, and materials so it is easy to find one that suits your needs.

If you’re into caffeine, invest in a Keep Cup or thermos. The university sells Keep Cups at a discount at all of their food-selling locations, so you can keep up your caffeine intake all while saving money and producing less waste! Remember, reducing waste is always the priority.

Slow down on the printing: Many people struggle to do readings on a screen and find that printing is better for their focus. If the blue light of the screen irritates your eyes, consider adjusting your computer settings or downloading an app that helps offset the harsh lighting. If you want to annotate and highlight the text, try using Adobe Acrobat (downloadable through the university) which allows you to highlight and add comments to PDF files.

Check books out of the library, or go second-hand: In addition to the university library, check out the public library on George IV Bridge. Try ordering second-hand books from Amazon or second-hand bookstores on Nicolson Street.

Use what you have: Re-using old notebooks is a great way to both save money and produce less waste. If you love that new notebook feeling, try starting from the other end of the book or give the front cover a re-vamp with a drawing or even a magazine cuttings collage.

These are a few study-related tips that may help you towards a more sustainable lifestyle. The most important thing is to try, and by making the effort, you have made the first step in ensuring that sustainability becomes a daily focus. Little actions can make a sizable difference as exams take hold. 

Image: Gnarlycraig via Wikimedia Commons

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