How to be a sustainable Leeds student

As a fresher you’re adjusting to living by yourself, making new friends and juggling the stresses of studying for a degree. Being conscious of your environmental footprint may not be at the top of your priorities, but it’s easy to be aware of your impact on the environment. No one expects your efforts to be perfect – but every little change really does make a difference!


Freshers week is full of freebies. However, trust me, a great deal of them you don’t need. Those leaflets full of deals? They’ll only end up in the bin after they’ve gathered dust on your desk for three months. While the reusable tote bags are great, you do not need more than two. Despite cotton tote bags being marketed as sustainable, their production actually carries a large carbon footprint. Each bag needs to be used several thousands of times to reach its sustainable potential, so must be good quality to carry all those tins home from your weekly shop. 

Make the most of being able to walk everywhere, as the vast majority of freshers will be living only a short distance away from campus and the city centre. Uber may be your new best friend on a rainy day, but it might be time to invest in an umbrella.   

Remember to use the recycling made available to you in halls and around campus with the clearly marked bins. Turning off the lights and sockets when you are not using them is another easy change – you will also thank yourself next year when you may be paying for your own bills in a student house.


When left to fend for yourself, it seems easy to survive on meal deals and takeaways. However, both your bank account and your nutrition will soon feel the repercussions.

When you finally brave the trek to your nearest Aldi, make a shopping list before you go. This way you avoid impulse purchases that will only go to waste in the end (and don’t forget your reusable bags)! Not only does wasting food waste money, it’s also terrible for the environment. Only purchase what you need and remember that you can freeze just about anything before it goes bad!  

Prepare your lunches! Those £3.50 Co-op meal deals will start to add up, and so will the amount of single-use plastic used in their packaging. As well as the lunchbox you prepared the night before, a reusable water bottle is another Eddy B essential. 

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Now you’re an official Leeds student, you’re going to want to invest in some new edgy garms. Forget fast fashion, it is time to download Depop and give the local charity shops a visit. The fashion industry produces more pollution than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Shopping preloved clothing is not only better for the environment, it is also a cool way to find cheaper, more unusual items. You can also always take the opportunity to borrow and swap clothing from your new friends! 

The University of Leeds sustainability service has some great resources available to support you. You can sign up to the university’s newsletter to keep updated.