The Eco-Friendly Student Guide

Being Eco-friendly is certainly a hot topic in 2019. The whole world seemingly has begun to wake up to the imminent threat of climate change, due to activists such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion regularly making the news.

Although it may be obvious that the big corporations and businesses are responsible for the harming of the planet, it doesn’t mean that the everyday person can’t start making positive and beneficial changes to their lifestyle. The idea of being ‘Eco-friendly’ may seem unattainable to the average student, but there are plenty of cheap, easy and accessible ways that young people can do their part in saving the planet.

With Christmas coming up in the next couple of months, try and avoid the easy route of Amazon to purchase gifts, their Prime delivery sends out thousands of vehicles a day, producing a lot of carbon emissions, as well as all the excess packaging used to wrap up their parcels. 

Amazon simply, just isn’t good for the environment, and this isn’t even touching on all the awful human rights allegations they have been involved in. So, why not shop handmade?

Etsy is a website where local artists, designers and crafters can sell their designs and pieces. It has great affordable options for students who don’t know what to get their loved ones, and also gives buyers the piece of mind that their money is going to ethical and independent companies, rather than the wallet of a multi-billion corporation that can’t even provide safe working conditions for its employees.

Why not go one step further and start shopping second-hand? Apps such as Depop and Ebay have created an online marketplace, where anyone can sell their unwanted and pre-loved items. These online spaces are especially popular for clothing items. The general public have become more aware of the awful impact of fast fashion on both the environment and the people who produce the garments, so they’re putting their money where it matters. 

Studies suggest that young people are the most likely to shop second-hand, with a survey finding 80 percent of 16–21-year old’s being open to the idea. 

There are of course other options for shopping second-hand that don’t involve going online. There are plenty of charity shops around Leeds, particularly in Headingley. There is nothing more exciting than rummaging for hours through a second-hand or antiques store and finding unique pieces you know that nobody else will have, for an inexpensive price. 

Vintage stores such as Pop Boutique and Blue Rinse also offer this experience, as well as vintage weigh-and-pay events that often run in the Union. This saves a lot of clothing going into landfill.

It’s not just second-hand shopping that helps save the planet. More and more people everyday are adapting to a plant-based diet, with figures saying that up to 3.5 million people in the UK identify as vegan.

But that’s not to say that every student needs to go vegan in order to do their part to save the planet; just try and cut down on how much meat you’re actually consuming. There are plenty of meat-free alternatives on the market, from your local supermarkets expanding their vegan options to chain restaurants adding more plant-based menu items. I have recently tried Wetherspoons Meatless Farm™ Vegan Burger and must say, it was very enjoyable. 

It’s becoming cheaper to start shopping healthier; discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi offer a huge range of fresh fruit and vegetables that are essential for any meal. Shop local, with a great farmers market coming to campus every Monday, offering a wide range of fresh and healthy produce. Students, please put away the pot noodle; we can do better.

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. Luckily, apps such as TooGoodToGo set out to combat this vast amount of food wastage; allowing customers to browse local food outlets (including some on campus!) and purchase food at a highly reduced price. Local cafés such as Rainbow Junktion are also doing their part by offering meals made from food that would otherwise go to waste, on a pay-as-you-feel basis. Not only does this help with the amount of food waste produced, it also brings a community together on the basis of good food and helping the environment.

I hope that it is clear now that being Eco-friendly isn’t, and shouldn’t be, unachievable for students. Use your voices to challenge corporations and companies to change their ways, but also make sure to put effort into changing your own lifestyle. After all, with young activists leading the way, it’s important that students do their bit to save the planet.

Chloe-Nicole Arnold