‘Reduce your carbon footprint’ and ‘think about your carbon footprint’ are phrases we often see banded about in the media today – but what does it actually mean? And are there steps that students can take to reduce their own carbon footprint genuinely and effectively during study and downtime with their friends?
What is meant by carbon footprint?
Remember back in school science lessons when you learnt about CO2 and how we all produce CO2 which rises up into the atmosphere and damages the planet until the plants convert it back into oxygen?
Well, your carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that you produce on a daily basis, taking into account that decisions you make every day which cause harm to the environment. When we talk about reducing our carbon footprint, we mean making sustainable decisions that will help us to live an eco-friendly life.
Here are some things you can do today to help the planet.
Tips to reduce your own carbon footprint at university
Choose your energy suppliers carefully
This means seeking out those energy suppliers who use 100% renewable energy sources to power your home.
Use energy-saving lightbulbs and appliances
You can get all manner of devices and home appliances in an energy-saving format if you look hard enough – including plugs and lightbulbs. In essence, these energy-saving appliances use less energy t produce the same results as their standard counterparts. An example of an easy lightbulb switch is to shop for LED lightbulbs.
Use WiFi over mobile data
Using mobile data is said to use twice as much energy as logging in through WiFi, especially when you are completing university work or downloading videos to watch during study breaks.
Keep electrical devices for longer
This is an easy change to make which will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will likely also save your money – and it’s all about holding back from a new device purchase. Holding onto possessions for longer, especially electrical ones, means that the demand for energy-intensive manufacturing of new devices is lower – thus saving the environment with every device you hang onto.
Wash clothes less often
It’s tempting to throw your favourite top in the wash straight after wearing, but washing machines actually use a huge amount of energy and water with each cycle and so produce a high amount of CO2. Instead of washing in small batches, try and do larger washes less regularly, and use eco-friendly detergents and fabric softeners to reduce the negative impact you might be having on the waterways at the same time.
This essentially means doing what you can to shy away from products and groceries that have had to be flown into the UK from far off locations and manufacturers – for example, avocados, amazon products, and cheap fast fashion. Try and shop locally wherever you can to support those businesses who make and sell everything in your local area.
Make considered food choices and limit waste
If there is one change that we can all make, it’s to limit the waste we throw out every day. Food takes a huge amount of energy to grow and transport, and throwing it away uses and releases even more. Cook what you need, store what you don’t, and be careful not to throw food away.
Walk/cycle when there is no alternative
The less you rely on your car, the lower your carbon footprint. If you must use a vehicle, do so in a group to cut the carbon emissions when more than one person drives unnecessarily.
Reuse, reduce and recycle
It’s been drummed into you since school, and it’s still important today. Get to know what you can recycle and where you can recycle it – and be sure to wash out containers and wrappers before recycling so that they don’t get thrown away.
Did you know that paper receipts cannot be recycled? And did you know that everything printed can usually be found or sent to you online just as easily, and if not far quicker, than sending it to you via the post? Going paperless will go huge ways towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Last but not least, it’s time to stop feeding the fast fashion train – by going second-hand and making the most of all those preloved goodies that are available online and on the high street in vintage and charity shops. And if you can get used to buying second-hand, you will quickly find out how best to capitalise on the trend and recycle your own unwanted clothes – in return for some extra spending money!
What other changes could you make to your daily habits to help the planet?