Advice & Wellbeing
#Earth Week - 10 Ways to Save the Planet
Hi I’m Ella! I’m a Resident Assistant here at UWE but in my free time I like to think of myself as a bit of an environmental activist. I think it’s really important to think about how we can care for this earth that we live on and I hope you do as well! In this article I’m going to give you a few tips and trick on how you can do your bit (even in a small way) to help save the planet.
1. Reduce waste
A large contributor to the climate crisis is the amount of waste we produce that either gets put on landfill or uses large amounts of energy to be recycled. Both of which contribute to greenhouse gas production. While recycling is better for the environment than just throwing stuff in the general bin, throwing less away in the first place is even better.
Did you know: The average person in the UK throws away around 400kg of waste each year; 7 times their body weight!
So, what can you do to produce less waste? Here are a few ideas:
- Try and by products with less single use plastic. E.g. loose fruit and veg instead of ones wrapped in plastic.
- Buy refillable cleaning products containers. This is a pocket and planet saver because it uses so much less plastic and is cheaper in the long run. In fact, the SU shop on Frenchay Campus has an Ecover refill station for laundry liquid and dish soap.
- The SU shop also has a whole plastic free section where you can get products such as rice and pasta. All you need to do is bring your own containers.
- If you have an Indian or Chinese takeaway, save the plastic containers and reuse them as Tupperware/lunchboxes. This also saves you having to wrap your sandwich in cling film or tin foil.
2. Reusable cups/water bottles
Along the same lines as reducing waste, try saying goodbye to disposable coffee cups and bottles of water. Buying a metal thermos, coffee cup or water bottle is a great way of being sustainable. Here is why:
- Metal does take more energy to mine and manufacture however this is offset by the life span of the product. Metal water bottles have a much longer life span than plastic bottles for example.
- Metal is 100% recyclable.
- Metal containers will also keep for drink hot or cold for longer.
3. Buy food that is in season
You may have not thought about this before, but when you buy exotic fruit in the middle of winter, it probably has travelled halfway across the world to get to your plate! Most foods have a season where it can be grown or farmed in the UK. This uses a lot fewer fossil fuels in transport compared to the food has been grown or farmed in another country. By avoiding buying off season produce; you’ll greatly help the planet.
It’s cheaper to buy in season food, and generally tastes much nicer because it’s so fresh! So, it’s a win win for everyone. I’ve linked a guide to which foods are in season throughout the year in the UK below.
4. Try going meat free
The meat and dairy industries are two of the largest contributors to global warming. By reducing your intake of animal products, you can do your bit to help the planet.
Did you know: Beef results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of protein, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg (The Guardian, 2019).
This could mean going vegetarian, or even better trying a fully plant-based diet. I’ve personally been vegan for almost two years and I was vegetarian for longer before that. I’ve found a plant-based diet is not only better for the environment, and more ethical, it is also is healthier as it makes me think more about what I foods I put in my body. However, because I know this isn’t possible or affordable for everyone, I would suggest starting with a couple of meat free days per week or introducing a few more regular vegetarian meals into your diet.
I’ve included a few of my favourite vegan recipes that I make on a weekly basis and on a student budget:
Vegan Bean Chilli: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-chilli
Vegan Stir Fry: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sachas_stir-fry_17077
Bang Bang Cauliflower: https://www.delish.com/uk/cooking/recipes/a28852702/bang-bang-cauliflower-recipe/
5. Change how you travel
It seems quite obvious, but cars and other road vehicles are extremely large contributors to greenhouse gas production. Instead of driving or taking ubers, think about using other transport options.
Public transport like buses or trains are slightly better than cars, but they still require the use of fossil fuels.
The most sustainable forms of transport are walking and cycling. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry! Bristol has bikes that you can rent for £1 an hour using an app or get a loan from the Students' Union, or you could hire an electric scooter
6. Shop mindfully
Another large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the fashion industry. Fast fashion companies that provide cheap clothes are incredibly bad for the environment. Clothes from these companies are usually made in third world countries in factories use labour processes that are unethical and bad for the environment.
To limit your contribution to the fast fashion industry, you could try:
- Shopping with considerate brands. Do a bit of research and find out which brands that are actively trying to be ethical and reduce their environmental impact.
- Shop second hand! Second-hand shopping is so much better for the environment as it means you are not contributing to the production of new items. Try shopping at charity shops, vintage shops or online on eBay or Depop.
7. Save paper
Deforestation is a large problem for the health of the planet. There are ways that you can you can reduce your paper usage to be more sustainable. For example:
- Write digital notes in lectures, rather than on paper.
- Try to print less and only what you need.
- Write to do lists and memos on a whiteboard rather than sticky notes. This saves paper and the whiteboard can be used again and again.
There are a number of ways that changing the way you do laundry can help benefit the environment:
- By doing larger loads or sharing a washing machine with a friend, you can save a lot of water and electricity. If you pay to use a laundromat, this will also work out to be cheaper as you’ll have to do less loads of laundry!
- Hang out your laundry to dry rather than using a tumble dryer. Clothes horses only cost about £10 and again it will save you money in the long run.
- If you have your own washing machine, try washing your clothes on a lower temperature. This is because cooler water doesn’t need to be heated up as much and so uses less electricity.
B.T.W. By using these tips, not only will you be helping the planet, but it will also reduce your water and electricity bills, saving you money!
9. Stay Educated
By keeping informed about the climate crisis, we can keep doing our part to help solve it. After all, knowledge is power. I’ve linked to the WWF website which had a basic overview about global warming and some documentaries that I found very interesting and informative.
Chasing Ice (2012)
Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. (IMDB)
Before the flood (2016)
A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet. (IMDB)
10. Use your voice!
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is spread the word about the climate crisis. This could be in any small or big way. For example, you could:
- Go to a climate strike or march.
- Share a Greta Thunberg video on Facebook.
- Chat to your friends about environment issues.
- Join the UWE Green Team for more opportunities to help the planet with the university.
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