5 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle as a student

There’s no denying that sustainability and eco-friendly living has grown in popularity in recent years – and rightly so. Our planet has truly reached a crisis point and if we don’t act quickly, our future generations will have to deal with the irreversible consequences.

Recent statistics have found that the amount of plastic produced in a single year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity, meanwhile more than three million children under five die every year as a result of living in polluted environments. Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the (melting) iceberg.

Highlighting the severity of this global crisis, David Attenborough issued the following call-to-action in the final episode of his 2017 Blue Planet II television series: “We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that. Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity and indeed all life on Earth now depends on us.”

This ‘Attenborough Effect’ has encouraged people around the world to incorporate more ethical and eco-friendly practices in their everyday lives. However, as a student, it can be hard to find the time (or energy) in between studies to be green, especially when most of the things that are cheap and convenient are probably disposable. However, there are a few easy ways you can reduce your environmental impact on a budget – and even make some spare cash in the process.

Here are 5 ways you can live a more sustainable lifestyle as a student:

Pass old clothes on

As a student, your style will undoubtedly evolve between freshers and graduation. But what exactly do you do with all those clothes that no longer suit you? At first it can seem tricky to know the best way to dispose of your old clothes sustainably, but it is surprisingly simple.

Why not ask your flatmates if they would be up for ‘style swapping’; after all, something that you don’t want anymore might be perfect for them, and vice versa. If that’s not successful, though, you can easily sell your old clothes and accessories to Enviroclothes, which is a local company that buys pre-loved items, and gives them a second chance at life so they can be re-loved by someone else.

Their mission is to increase clothing redistribution and reduce the huge amounts of clothes that are currently going to landfill and polluting our planet (in 2017 alone Enviroclothes saved over 330,900 kilograms from this fate). They run a free home collection service as well as clothing drop off points at local shopping centres, including the Arnison Retail Park in Durham. You can find more information here.

Use alternative transport

Research has revealed that two thirds of all UK car journeys are under five miles, which results in unnecessary levels of air pollution and traffic congestion. Shockingly, it is estimated that between 28,000 and 36,000 people die as a result of air pollution in the UK every year.

So if you’ve brought your car to university, or if you’re partial to getting a taxi to and from lectures, try using alternative transport wherever you can (bus or train). And even better – cycling, walking or jogging is not only healthier for the environment but for you as well.


This one is probably the most obvious, however it’s important to include because when you’re short on time and rushing to class, it can be easy to forget. Recycling is one of those things that’s pretty easy to do, but it’s also just as easy not to do. So it’s a case of getting into the habit and sticking with it until it becomes second nature.

Most UK universities have recycling facilities around campus, and Durham is no different. Please click here for recycling guidance and information on what items should be placed in which bins around the Durham University site.

Invest in a reusable water bottle

While it’s important to stay hydrated, it’s still alarming to see the abundance of disposable plastic water bottles available in convenience stores, cafés, train stations etc. A million are bought around the world every minute – with the majority ending up in landfill or the ocean.

Investing in a reusable alternative is a great way to help the environment. Jerry Bottle is an eco-friendly reusable water bottle brand, which gives 100% of its profits to fund water projects in India and Tanzania, while campaigning for a reusable and sustainable economy. Their bottles come in a variety of sizes and they offer guides to keep them clean.

Buy smarter, buy less

Finally, in our modern world of consumerism it can be all too tempting to overspend. With online sales and discounts just a click away, the fear of missing out can sometimes seem unbearable – but do you really need that new outfit or those new shoes?

The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 1.2 billion carbon emissions globally in a single year, and the total amount of water consumed in production each year is equal to 32 million Olympic swimming pools. What’s more, the industry actually designs clothes to fall apart. This is called planned obsolescence, and is meant to encourage shoppers to buy more items and ultimately increase the retailer’s profits.

So next time you’re tempted to make an impulse purchase, whether on an item of clothing or something else, think of these wise words from Vivienne Westwood: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.

Enviroclothes is proud to sponsor DUCFS 2019