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The need for renewable or ‘green’ energy sources is one of the world’s most pressing issues. Fossil fuel reserves are running out fast, and we have yet to find a way to make nuclear energy entirely safe. Meanwhile, the population and demand for a safe and renewable energy solution continues to grow. Students, as the future world leaders and industry professionals, are the people who should be at the forefront of pushing for an answer to the energy issue. For this demographic, ‘going green’ will become a way of life. While the world still searches for a renewable energy source, there are things you can be doing as a student which will already have a positive impact on the environment, and they might improve the health of your student account too!

How to live greener:

  1. Switch off from technology
    One of the main aspects of life that students can alter to help the environment is technology. As quoted in the Independent, Sam Newell the manager of Student Markets at Endsleigh said: “From listening to music, watching films and taking photos, to using these gadgets for reading text books digitally, or making lecture notes, these high-tech devices have become an everyday part of student life.”Clearly students use technology in every facet of your world – from study to social – but the only problem is that electricity is an expensive commodity. By simply turning off all of your gadgets at night, as well as the TV (at the socket, not just via the remote) you’ll save yourself money and make a worthwhile contribution to cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Turn off the appliances
    While it may seem like a tiny change, actually turning off your appliances when not in use makes a huge, positive impact on the planet. Millions of students leave things like microwaves, washing machines and kettles on at all times, meaning energy reserves are being used needlessly. UK households could save between £50 and £86 a year by turning off appliances at night, according to an article in the Guardian. Everyone from family households to students and corporations are guilty of this, thus everyone has a responsibility to make a change and who’s to say the student community can’t lead the way?
  3. Ride a bike
    With just a student loan for financial support, finding cheap alternatives for just about everything is often on the top of a university student’s priority list. Instead of forking out for a monthly travel card, or covering the cost of petrol, insurance and registration for a car, investing in a two-wheel vehicle is a much cheaper, and ‘greener’, way to get around. Cycling in the UK is currently going through a ‘revolution’ with the government pledging money towards cycling schemes across the country. But, university campuses are often already cycle friendly and are small enough to make commuting via bicycle a quick and easy travel alternative.   
  4. Turn the heater down
    A recent poll by the Higher Institute Policy Institute found that on students spent an average of 13.9 hours a week in lectures and tutorials. This is only 0.2 hours more than six years prior, despite the cost of tuition fees tripling. With fewer than 15 hours in class, students naturally have a lot of time to spend at home. But, while it may get blisteringly cold in the UK over winter and it’s tempting to crank up the heating while you’re at home studying, try to refrain.  Whether you have a gas or electric heating system, the cost of warming your home is always increasing, but try dropping the thermostat by a couple of degrees you’ll not only save money but also reduce your energy expenditure. According to estimates, it’s possible to save up to 10% on your bill by dropping the temperature by a couple of degrees.  If you live in student halls, arguments over who’s increasing the heating bill won’t happen, but you’ll still be having an effect on the environment based on how high you set the heater.
  5. A few other things to try
    Just but having a short shower instead of a bath, washing your clothes in cold water instead of warm and cleaning dishes by hand rather than using the dishwasher will all make a difference.

Most of the pointers above are common sense, and each requires just a small change to your lifestyle to implement. By making these alterations you’ll live greener and cheaper. Students are the future of the environmental movement and have the power to make the green movement an ordinary way of life rather than a conscious decision like it currently is.