8 ways for students to stop the end of the world (and save cash at the same time)

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

By Kat McGregor

The world is kind of terrible right now. I could rant and rave about how the ‘Dystopian and Post-apocalyptical’ books in Waterstones might as well be moved to the ‘Current Affairs’ section. Or maybe I could discuss how parts of the world have literally been on fire for most of this year?

Instead, I am not going to focus on the negatives, nor am I going to wistfully dream up some positives. I am going to focus on the impact that we have as individuals. The saying isn’t true, it is easy being green, and it can save some cash.

1. Who gives a crap?

“We donate 50% of profits to help build toilets because we believe access to a safe, dignifies loo is a basic human right.” UK.whogivesacrap.org

Want to reduce your waste from your wiping without investing in a bidet? Made with 100% recycled paper, and entirely plastic free, ‘Who Gives a Crap’ is an excellent toilet paper delivery system.

A toilet paper subscription service that your flatmates can’t argue with. The company also donates half their profits to help provide better sanitation to billions.

2. Reduce your heating bill

Some quick tips to reduce the cost of your heating, whilst keeping your hands warm enough to type, is sure to bring a smile to your bank balance.

– Wrap some cardboard in tin foil (shiny side out) and pop it behind your radiator. The surface will reflect heat back into the room, rather than uselessly escaping through external walls.

– When you are done cooking, leave your oven door open (and oven turned off) and allow residual heat to keep your kitchen toasty.

– Put on an extra layer and wait 15 minutes before turning the thermostat up.

3. Eat more plants!

Plants are so cheap, so flavourful and so much… greener. The livestock industry alone generates nearly 15% of all man-made green house emissions. The WWF and Knorr have also created this handy guide to highlight 50 future foods that we need to start eating. Three quarters of the world’s diet comes from only 12 plant and 5 animal species. This is terrible for both food security and biodiversity. Increasing food variety is fun, delicious, and can save the planet!

4. When you get a hunger that only meat will satisfy, do it right!

The worst offenders for carbon dioxide production are the grass-eating, methane producing animals. Reducing your intake of lamb and beef will do a great deal reducing your personal carbon footprint. Pigs have a more varied diet and produce around half the CO2 as cows, and raising chickens produces around a quarter. Swapping your beef burger for a chicken fillet might not sound world changing, but every little difference helps!

5. Buy preloved

With sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace there is little need to buy ‘brand new’ items. There is more than enough ‘stuff’ in this world to last us many, many years. Fast fashion is a huge contributor to climate change, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of man-made emissions (more than international flights and maritime shipping combined!).

But I’m not just talking about buying a bargain new frock, I buy nearly everything I need second hand. Kitting out my flat I bought a desk, a wardrobe, a set of drawers and an armchair – all in excellent condition for under £100! The same price as just 1 piece of flat-pack Swedish furniture (although I did miss grabbing a side of meatballs!)

Buying preloved is eco-friendly, kinder to my pocket and rather than adding more zeros to Sweden’s best maze designer, you help someone local send their children to football practice or pay the rent.

6. Buy local

Small businesses need the publics help more than ever. If you fancy a pizza, order from your local, independent restaurant or takeaway. When shopping for Christmas presents, consider the environmental and ethical impact of your gift hunting by shopping on Etsy, rather than Amazon. Etsy also deliver a world of goodness by offsetting %100 of carbon emissions from delivery!

7. TerraCycle

TerraCycle has a huge variety of programmes where you can recycle nearly every type of waste. Have a look on their website to see recycling points near you. Where I live, in Bedford, there is an amazing woman down the road – Becky, who is happy for people to drop off their clean recycling into sorted bags and she not only recycles our old crisp packets and bread bags, but she uses this to raise money for local charities. Becky is getting into the ‘Good Place’ for sure. Why not join her?

8. Investigate your own carbon footprint

Ever wondered how big your own carbon footprint was? Take the WWF’s questionnaire to see where you stand at the moment and how to improve your own impact on the environment.

I’m done preaching at you now. Do what you want, but only how I want you to.

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