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10 ways to live sustainably as a student at college!

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

At the time of writing this article, I am 26 years old. I am way pass my fun college time when I was in the UK. What a time to remember! At that time, I just started practising a sustainable lifestyle, which I quite regret as I should have done it earlier.

To live sustainably on a budget (as you are a student), you don't have to quit that much of your current lifestyle. You still can going out, enjoy clubbing and dining out, shopping, etc., just do everything with a bit more thought, think more before any action. Here are some easy to follow tips, they will help you to save the planet and your money too! (Check out how I live sustainably and save $8,000!)

1. Unplug

By simply unplugging devices when you do not use, including chargers, coffee makers, toasters, etc. when not using, you can save between $100 and $200 each year. This action also reduces the risk of unexpected fire due to fault electric system.

2. Think twice before buying

The amount of money we spend on unnecessary items is massive, you will be shocked when you actually count it! Students tend to overspend on stuff like party stuff, cute stationary items, etc., as they look so cool in the shops. However, when you are back home, you will actually think twice about whether you need it or not.

Be creative, think whether you can create any new things from your current stuff. There are so many websites on the Internet that teach you how to up-cycle things. Fun and easy to do, a great way to save money!

3. Make a shopping list

Students typically send about $50 dollars a week on grocery shopping (at least that's my case). One tip I could give you is that NEVER go shopping when you are hungry :)) I can guarantee you will buy so much more than you need. Plus, with a shopping list, you force yourself into only buying what you need, so that you can easily control your budget too!

reusable shopping bag
Don't forget to bring your reusable bags when shopping! (source: Unsplash)

4. Avoid water waste

Do you know that by simply turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 8 gallons of water daily, which is more than 200 gallons a month! If you want to try harder, you can also try to reduce the number of bath you have each week, from daily to say, 3 days, then 2, then 1 day a week.

Plus, always look for dripping or water leakage, you can save up to 10% of your water bill by fixing your house leakage. I used to live with some flatmates and luckily they were always fully aware of this and they loved to fix stuff in the house!

5. Cycle and walk when you can

I think this must be one of the easiest tips. As most students live on budget, cycling or walking is the healthiest, cheapest, and easiest way to live a sustainable lifestyle. With the price of fuel increases more and more everyday, you should get yourself a nice pair of sneakers and a bike today!

straw cocktails
Do you really need a straw for your cocktails? (source: Unsplash)

6. Do not take straws when going out

Straws are clearly the most stupid things ever, as they are 99% waste unnecessary. Many pubs, restaurants and bars are joining the movement, only give out straws when customers require or only use reusable straws. Don't be fooled by paper straws, as they are just as bad.

So remember the next time you order a Gin & Tonic (my favouriteeeee!), let the bartender know that you DO NOT need a straw!

I love travelling on a budget with my friends during college. This is me and Mayra somewhere in Spain!

7. Donate or buy second hand

This is not really the choice for everyone, as some people might not like the feeling of wearing someone's else clothes (including me). So I always feel guilty when going shopping for clothes. But if second hand clothes/items are no problem to you, you should definitely go for it. Thrift stores always have unexpected cool things that can make you so unique!

8. Join a society

I joined quite a few societies at the University of Bristol before (I wish I had joined more), one of them is Sustainability Society. We did a lot of activities, including events and surveying campaigns, from which I learnt a great deal about sustainability and met many other like-minded people. I can guarantee if you do a bit of searching on Facebook, you can find societies at your university, or if there is not one yet, you can be the FOUNDER and create one!

9. Bring reusable items when shopping

Always remember to bring your reusable bags and containers when going shopping, that's the easiest step to start. As more and more supermarkets and shops start charging for plastic bags (the UK even doubles it from 5p to 10p in 2021), this will save so much of plastic waste going to the landfills.

On a bright side, there are many more refilling shops popping up everywhere, if you can put a bit more effort, go shopping in those places, as they sell almost everything naked, which means there is no packaging coming with it. Quite a smart idea!

10. Take a course!

Many universities are offering free courses on sustainability, so that students and the local community can educate themselves on sustainable practices and application. Some of these course could charge you, but most of the ones I have seen so far are free. You can find some on edX, Coursera and other online websites too.

I hope you find those tips useful to live a sustainable lifestyle as a student! Share with us your tips if you have any cool one! Love to hear from you!


Tram Anh


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