How to become a more sustainable student

6 mins read

Sustainability can be an afterthought in a student’s busy life.

However, with Scotland’s Climate Week coming up from September 25 to October 1, it is now more important than ever to think about what we are doing to help tackle the climate crisis.

Even the smallest of changes can help Scotland reach their net zero target while also benefiting yourself and your life as a student.

While it may not always be possible to make more sustainable swaps, here are some ideas on how you can do your part to become a more sustainable student.

Go digital

Going digital as a student means you won’t need to carry so much about with you.

As a university student there are many benefits to go paperless and be a digital student.

Forget carrying multiple textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils and more when you can have everything all in the one place: your computer or tablet.

man using ipad sitting in front of desk
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You will even find most required readings will be available online to read and if not, there is always the library where you can borrow them from.

It isn’t always possible to go completely paperless but when you can always try.

Ditch disposables

As of 2022, around 700 million single use items were being used in Scotland every year.

In June of last year, the Scottish Government implemented a single-use plastic ban, which makes it an offence for businesses to provide items including plastic cutlery, plates and stirrers.

While this has helped cut down single use plastics entering circulation, it hasn’t stopped the use of other single use products.

Many businesses have switched these plastic items for paper straws or wooden forks instead, which still can only be used once before being needed to be thrown away.

However, if you are out and about often you should invest in reusables.

Plastic bottles. Image credit: Pexels

Reusable water bottles are an essential. There are many places to fill your water bottle up on campus so save yourself paying for bottled water.

Other items such as reusable coffee cups, straws and even a cutlery set is a must for on the go so you don’t find yourself resorting to single use ones when out and about. 

Freeze your leftovers

Food waste is a big contributor to climate change with about a third of all our food being chucked out each year.

In 2019, Zero Waste Scotland conducted a study at the University of St Andrews which showed the average purchase cost of avoidable food waste per student per week was approximately £5.25. 

The most commonly wasted type of food was leftovers.

It may be pretty obvious to freeze your leftovers but not everyone does. 

If you are not planning on eating your leftover food within the next few days, you should consider sticking it in the freezer. 

Freezing leftovers for another night avoids food going to waste and will also save you money on future food shops. Freeze where and when you can. 

Avoid driving to campus

While this may not be possible for everyone due to an array of circumstances, where possible there are other ways to get to campus. 

Under 22s in Scotland can take the bus for free with the Free Bus Travel Scheme that was launched last year.

With the regular Uni Link service linking campus to Stirling city centre it really is a no brainer.

Santander bikes outside Cottrell. Image Credit: Brig Newspaper

Alternatively, cycling to campus is another eco friendlier option whether you have your own bike or not.

There are plenty of Santander bike stations around Stirling, Causewayhead, Bridge of Allan and campus where you can rent bikes. 

Lastly, there is also the option to walk, especially if it is a nicer day.

Take a trip to the Green and Blue Space

The Green and Blue Space located in the Atrium offers a range of products from zero waste items to sustainable swaps, repurposing and reselling homeware, clothing and electronics. 

They also take donations throughout the year for items including unwanted clothing, homeware, electronics and unopened food (food items are donated to Start Up Stirling).

Take a trip to the space when you can to see everything they have to offer.

Feature image credit: Isla Glen

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Lifestyle Editor / Third year journalism student

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