Simple Ways You Can Be More Sustainable and Green

Environmentalism and sustainability are increasingly becoming areas of concern. Being a student or if you work, this often conflicts with your conscience. You support the need to reduce actions which have negative consequences on the environment, but your job requires you to work on a computer all day or deal with stacks of paperwork, for example. There are people out there who will criticise you for being a ‘hypocrite’ for doing so.

Environmentalism and sustainability are increasingly becoming areas of concern. Being a student or if you work, this often conflicts with your conscience. You support the need to reduce actions which have negative consequences on the environment, but your job requires you to work on a computer all day or deal with stacks of paperwork, for example. There are people out there who will criticise you for being a ‘hypocrite’ for doing so.

There’s too much of ‘If you are really that eco-conscious then you can’t do x, y, or z’. Of course, we all do things that harm the environment in one way or another, regardless of how big or small that impact may be. Instead, we should focus more about doing what we can as individuals which can then collectively have a positive impact in reducing harmcaused. We should be promoting each other to be eco-conscious awareness in our behaviours rather than slating others for not doing enough since that only seems to deter others from making positive changes.   So, I’m going to provide 10 very simple things that everyone can do, with a few student-specific examples and tips.  


I know you get told this all the time, but I can’t do a post like this without including recycling! The truth is, recycling can take more effort that some people would expect. You can’t just go around throwing anything plastic in the recycling bin, or anything you think is recyclable. You have to always check, because if you contaminate your recycling bin with something that cannot be recycled (such as food or drink waste), you’ll ruin the whole batch. Check the labels and if you’re unsure ask someone or do a quick Google search (I do think labelling needs to be clearer), don’t be too lazy to walk to the recycling bin, wash out your cans and jars before you recycle them to avoid contamination, and please don’t line your recycling bin with a plastic bag… I guess the main take-away points here are: don’t be lazy and always double check!


This one is slightly more difficult as there does seem to beseveral blurred lines when it comes to judging whether a product is cruelty free or not.

  • Cruelty-Free does not mean the product is vegan.
  • Some brands are technically cruelty free, but they sell to China which requires that foreign goods much be animal tested by law (this does not apply to Hong Kong) so will not be cruelty-free certified.
  • Some brands don’t test on animals or sell to China but are owned by a ‘parent company‘ which does take part in animal-testing.
  • There are also brands which partake in animal testing, but also have a cruelty-free range.

The difficult thing here is that everyone will have different opinions of whether a product is cruelty-free or not, which is why you may receive different answers by different cruelty-free certification programs and blogs. There’s loads out there, but here are a few:

  • PETA has a list of brands which test on animals and a list of those which don’t as well. You can download these and keep them on your phone for easy access as you’re shopping.
  • Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognised program. Verified products will have the Leaping Bunny logo (some will say that they are more reliable and selective than PETA) and they have an app to!
  • Cruelty-Free Kitty is a blog with lists of cruelty-free and non-cruelty-free products. There are also posts on there focusing on common mistakes and misunderstandings we may make when it comes to looking for cruelty free products.
  • Hazelnut Musings blogs about cruelty free products. Kayleigh (the owner of Hazelnut Musings) has really helpfully compiled a list of cruelty free brands noting whether they sell vegan products and if the parent company of the brand in cruelty free as well. You can find it in the ‘menu’ of her blog!

If you’re really unsure, send an email and ask. Sometimes the replies can be wishy-washy, which probably means that it’s best to avoid for the time being.


They will last forever (okay, maybe not literally forever in some cases) but they will last for years so it’s completely worth it. Also, the plastic straps won’t dig into your hand so that’s a bonus when you’re carrying your shopping back to your house or accommodation for a long distance.


I think that many of us forget that regardless if your lamp is turn on or off, if the socket it turned on, electricity is being used. Don’t leave sockets on if the appliance is not in use. This is something that’s easily done. If you’re a student living with other students, just do some regular round checks to make sure that there aren’t any sockets on that don’t need to be, but be careful to not accidentally turn a pre-heating oven off!


This point is pretty self-explanatory. Turn off the taps when you’re brushing your teeth or shampoo-ing. It is a very simple way of saving water and it will save you on the bills to! You’ll be surprised how much water goes down the drain when it’s running for a few minutes!


CC0 1.0 | Pxhere

I’m not telling you to completely go vegetarian or vegan (that’s your choice alone and some people can’t because of dietary requirements) but you can definitely think of cutting down your meat and/ or diary consumption if you are able to and especially if you are aware that you eat a lot of meat. A lot of people find that it’s actually a lot easier to do than they had originally anticipated. People are quick to judge, so be open-minded about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. You can’t really criticise until you have properly given it a go and have made the effort to explore the option. Some pointers:

  • A few vegetarian/ vegan days a week
  • Reduce the portion of meat in your meals (swap out some chicken with tofu for example)
  • Try alternatives (don’t just try one and assume you won’t like any of them!)
  • Experiment with vegetables (they’re the easiest thing to prepare!)


They work for some people, but meal plans have never worked out for me. This may be difficult to do as a student if you don’t have a set schedule. One day you may finish lectures at 7, 10pm if you have society commitments, other days you’ll be done with contact hours before 12pm. However, what you can do is make a rough weekly outline so that you don’t end up buying more than you need. For example you may decide to plan ahead and properly cook a meal when you have limited work and contact hours that day, or have food on hand that you can quickly prepare (like vegetables and pasta) if you know that you have lots to do, and on the days you finish late you may want to take out a pre-prepared cooked meal that you have frozen (my Mum has made me enough so that I have one per a week set aside until the end of term!) or something from the freezer to shove in the oven. Lunch, on the other hand, is easier to prepare. Make sure to check expiry dates and eat food that is due to go off sooner.


bady qb | Unsplash

They can hold more water than a plastic water bottle, reduce plastic waste, save you money and you won’t make a load of noise trying to open it in the middle of a lecture! I know that in some places it’s advised to not drink water straight from the tap. One thing I do is to boil water in a kettle and transfer it into a heat resistant jug which you can keep on your desk to pour into your cup or bottle. It’s a great way to track your water intake to!


This ranges from helping out garden centres, to going out to plant trees and bulbs, and helping to maintain woodland areas and flower patches. Warwick Volunteers has opportunities like these running all throughout the year for Warwick students.


You don’t need new textbooks. They are so so expensive and they will end up getting creased no matter how hard you try to maintain them. I have never had a problem with second-hand books – they always come as if they have barely been used or brand new! They are cheaper, more sustainable and you can re-sell or donate them afterwards if they are left in good enough condition. Universities often hold second-hand sales for student essentials such as pots and pans to, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these as well.


Remember that food banks need to be filled and that many people go into charity shops to seek out clothes and toys. Don’t just throw it all away if someone else can benefit from your unwanted items.

Invest in a WHITEBOARD

Students – you will understand my guilt when it comes to printing. However, you can try and make up for some of this during exam season. I have been loving using my whiteboard to recall information instead of writing it down on pieces of paper that are going to be thrown away anyway. Of course, this won’t always be an efficient method as you will probably want to have a physical copy of handwritten, timed essays to go over, for example. Nevertheless, make use of the whiteboard whenever you can!

🌱 Think about what small changes you can start making today! 🌱
 If you have any more ideas, please share them!

Published by Aimee Cheung

Hello, my name is Aimee. I’m a Psychology with Education Studies student at Warwick Uni. My blog aims to document the highs as well as the low (yet important lessons) of university life, and to share some helpful tips and advice which I have been learning throughout my time here. I am interested in language development, developmental psychology more broadly, and the impact of socio-economic status on developmental and educational outcomes, and hope to be sharing more psychological research in these areas here!

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