Being a Sustainable Student

Calling all you Eco Warriors!

We are all well aware of the Climate Crisis that is currently happening. And whilst these swaps and changes to your everyday life may not feel like a huge contribution to helping the environment, every little change can make a difference. Every small contribution you make has an impact. Even just doing one thing. 

Your Welfare Office Hayley champions our Do1Thing campaign, in which we encourage you to do one small thing to make a big difference. Check out our suggestions below on how you can become an Eco Champion on Campus and make David Attenborough proud of you #TeamDavid.


DID YOU KNOW? Plastic was invented in 1907 and every single piece of plastic ever made is still on the earth!

A Reusable Mask

We are all aware of the rules for wearing a face mask on public transport, in shops and in busy public areas. One way to cut down on waste is to wear a reusable face mask! There are so many options - you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can buy from a small, local business or purchase one online. The most important thing you have to do is WASH IT! 'Maskne' is a thing! But also, you know, hygiene. If you do have to wear a disposable mask for any reason, be sure to cut the ties. They can get tangled on legs of wildlife otherwise, and no one wants that!

A Reusable Water Bottle

During lockdown, the sales of bottled water halved! And let’s be honest - they’re not selling you water - they’re selling you a plastic bottle. This is one of the easiest swaps you can do. It can save you money and it doesn’t need to be an investment. You can show your Portsmouth passion and pick one up at the Union Shop! You can use it again and again and again!

Reusable Coffee Mug

Another super easy swap! Many students are unable to function in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) without a caffeine kick, and if this is you, then is the perfect swap for you. Although coffee cups are made out of paper and cardboard, they are coated in plastic, so they are leak proof. By using your own mug (be it plastic, glass, metal or bamboo), you are saving landfills from being filled with empty coffee cups. Many places are not accepting reusable coffee cups at the moment due to current circumstances. However, you can save even more pennies by bringing a coffee from home! If you invest in a leak proof cup, you can put it in your bag and not worry about it spilling all over your notes!

Say No to Straws

This is probably one you’ve heard of a lot - saying no to straws, and it can take a little time for this to become a habit. 

You can use alternatives, like a steel one, a silicone one, bamboo or even glass. It’s a small swap that is inexpensive and easy to keep in your bag - just remember to clean it! Or, just say no - if you don’t need one, don’t use one!

Eat Less Meat

Carnivores, brace yourself. Eating meat is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation (due to land for farming) and also methane gas (you know what I’m talking about). By choosing to go meat free just one day a week, or only treating yourself to meat at weekends has a huge reduction on your carbon footprint. Also, meat can be expensive, so save your pennies too by trying one of two meat free days a week.


Reusable Cutlery

Picture this: you're doing a long sesh in the library, and you need to stretch your legs. You head to the closest shop and browse the aisles, and you spot exactly what you didn’t know you’d been craving. A yoghurt. Yes, that’s exactly what you wanted. You make your purchase and head back to the library to slog on. You open your yoghurt and… you don’t have a spoon. You could fashion one out of the foil lid, or manage with a coffee stirrer, but it just doesn’t seem worth it. Your yoghurt sits there, congealing, unloved, unwanted. 

Okay, I might be being a little over-dramatic, but carrying reusable cutlery just makes sense. You reduce the use of single use items. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy - just a spare set from your drawer in the kitchen. You’ll be surprised at how much you use them when you’re on the go and buying food at Uni (it’s Uni, you will buy cheap food at every opportunity).

Tote this around

Tote bags! They are a much better alternative to plastic bags. It will be your saviour! You can use it to carry extra books, essentials and shopping (when you find the reduced section and you buy way more than planned, you’ll thank me). Although it can be tempting to snag a free tote at every opportunity, you have to be aware that you have to use it 131 times to be a sustainable alternative (daunting, I know) but you will use it more than you think. Just pop it in the bottom of your bag, and you won’t need to make the journey home from the supermarket with armfuls of food.

Conscious Commuter

Portsmouth is great, because you can get most places within a 20 minute walk. Leave the car at home and think about cycling or walking. The city is particularly bike and pedestrian friendly, so you’ll have no issues getting around. You could also get the free Uni bus - but don’t forget your mask! If you want to travel further afield, there are three train stations - Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth and Southsea and Fratton. These will take you off the island and allow you to explore a bit more. Getting to London is extremely easy, and for an even cheaper option, you could get a coach. There is no reason not to take advantage of the public transport to get around the city - but walking and cycling is even better (read: exercise). 

Buy Fruit and Veg Without Plastic

You’re on a budget, I get it, and when you’re shopping, the cheapest option is the one you’re going to go for, but - even though it may be cheaper to buy three onions in a plastic net, if you don’t need three onions, buy a single, loose onion instead. This helps reduce you single use plastics and food waste, which is a huge problem in the UK. Be a savvy shopper and look around for the best price, or head to a greengrocers or farmers market instead. There is usually a Farmers Market on Palmerston Road or a Fruit and Veg stall on Commercial Road.

The 7 Rs

You probably remember the three Rs from school - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But what about the others? Repurpose, Refuse, Rot and Repair. 

Recycling is the easiest way to reduce your landfill contribution, but think before you throw - what else can you do with the item before it ends up in the bin, recycling or not? 

Repurpose: Can it be used for something else?

Repair: If it's broken, can it be fixed? Is there a local Repair Cafe you could take it to?

Refuse: Do you need that freebie?

Rot: Portsmouth is also launching food waste collections on some roads, so check if your road is being included. If not, think about starting a compost in your kitchen or garden.

One of the main monsters is plastic - lots of plastic that still isn’t recyclable. So instead think about building eco bricks! Eco Bricks are plastic bottles which are filled with non-recyclable plastic. They are stuffed until they are solid and durable, then used to make houses - neat, huh?

Before throwing clothes, towels or sheets away, think about if these can be donated - even if it is just for rag.


Charity Shops

The backbones of our highstreet - head there instead of fast fashion outlets when looking for new items to wear on a night out, or even to spruce up your wardrobe.  You can find some absolute gems if you have the patience to look - some things never even worn, and some nice brands too. Don’t write off charity shops as somewhere your Nan picks up tat - give them a chance. A great Social is to set a budget and find the best outfit from charity shops around the city - plus the money goes to a good cause, so it’s a win-win!

On campus we have a small donation and recycling centre - a place where you can drop off items which can be more difficult to donate - like bras, batteries and more! Take a look when we’re back on campus!

We have also hosted clothes swaps in the past, bring some clothes to swap and head home with a new outfit - not a penny spent!

Hopefully you'll be able to incorporate one, or more, of these changes into your every day life and be a little more sustainable!

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