Earlier this year the Griffith University Gold Coast Student Guild took action to stop sucking by rolling out our ‘Suck Sustainably’ program to eliminate the use of plastic straws on campus. The Guild is committed to finding ways to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. We are also keen to find ways that we, as students, can be more sustainable in our every day lives at home and on campus.
Here are 10 areas in which you might be able to make small changes to create a big difference. Not only will these strategies help the environment, many of them will save you money too.
We have been raised on recycling and it is one of the easiest steps you can take toward more sustainable living, but how often do we follow through? Set a weekly challenge to pay close attention to what is going into your garbage and to make sure your rubbish is going to the right place. Even better, try to find ways to upcycle your unwanted goods by repurposing and reusing them to reduce waste altogether.
Walk, bike or carpool
Hit up Google Maps to see whether it is feasible for you to ride your bike or walk in to uni. This is a triple winner because it is great for your health, great for the environment and will save you money on petrol. The Guild provides End of Trip Facilities and Bike Lockers so that you can freshen up and store your bike safely once you arrive. According to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, cycling 10 km each way to campus daily would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year, as well as saving you up to $1700. If you need to use your car, compare schedules with your mates and set up a car pool system.
Support eco-conscious brands
Consumer power can change the world and there is a booming industry in eco-conscious products. Read labels, carefully, do some research and support brands that are adopting sustainable practices, are cruelty free and are eco-conscious. You can find out which beauty products, food companies, cleaning products and fashion labels are leading the way and delivering best practice through a quick Google search.
Re-usable bags, straws and coffee cups
It’s time to make single-use plastics a thing of the past. Reduce the amount of garbage you produce in a day by investing in a metal straw, cloth grocery bag and re-usable coffee cup to create a sustainable living kit. Get into the habit of popping your kit into your handbag or backpack until it becomes second nature to carry it with you everywhere you go. You can purchase sustainable living items on campus at The Uni Store, the Uni Bar and The Village Café.
Reduce your meat consumption
You don’t have to give up the steak altogether but reducing the amount of meat you consume each week may have great benefits for our environment in the long term. National Geographic reports that studies into the side effect of food production indicate that reducing meat and dairy consumption is likely to reduce green house gases and ensure that we are able to feed the world’s growing population. Food waste is also a big problem so while you’re tweaking your diet, get excited about eating those leftovers and using every last carrot in the fridge.
Step out in second hand fashion
Setting up a clothes swap with your mates or shopping at a second hand clothes store has a lot of benefits. Opting for preloved cloths over new, reduces textile waste, saves you money, reduces the amount of resources poured into new clothing production, and can benefit the local community if you shop at charity second hand stores. The World Resource Institute estimates that clothing waste worldwide would be enough to fill Sydney Harbour every year. They also estimate that the amount of water used in the production of one cotton shirt (2,700 litres) is 2 ½ years’ worth of drinking water for one person.
This one’s simple! Turn off lights, the TV and other appliances when you are not using them. Want to go a step further? Replace your traditional light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
Reduce your printing
Printing every last reading on the list can certainly make you feel like you’re headed for an HD but it is contributing to the 1.72 million tonnes (more than 40 million trees) of paper Australians are using every year, according to NSW Office of Environment & Heritage. Take your laptop to class, look for ways to go digital and consider printing only the essentials.
Combine laundry loads
Save your washing for when you have a full load of laundry. Don’t have enough laundry for that? Check with your housemate to see if they have some dirty socks and jocks to help you fill up the machine. Not only will you conserve water and energy but you’ll also earn some valuable brownie points with your roomie.
Buy in bulk
Most packaging ends up straight in the bin and many types of plastic wrappers are not recyclable. Typically, frequent purchases of smaller items results in a lot more packaging waste than buying in bulk. Have a look at your options when you purchase items such as detergents, toilet paper, and even non-perishable food items.
Small habits adopted by many can create big change. Chat to your friends and family about the changes you are making to create an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.