Reduce, reuse and recycle: How to become a “greener” student

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As the threat of climate change becomes an ominous global issue, we should be questioning our own everyday actions and be conscious of our ecological footprint. Many surveys have shown that students are a population that is less likely to recycle due to lack of knowledge, convenience, or awareness. It’s an understandable statistic – going to class, studying, and taking care of one’s wellbeing leaves little time for anything else. However, becoming a greener student is a lot easier than you think. Here are some quick tips to help save the planet!

A student can take action against climate change
As a student you can do many things to help the environment!
Pick up trash when you see it

When recycling, sort trash based on its components and use the correct bin for the type of trash. The small act of putting trash in its rightful place makes a big difference.

Choose public transport or use a bike!

More people using the metro or bus, will lead to better service and expanded routes. Use the time on the metro to university to prepare for class, read over notes before an exam, or catch up with friends.

Moreover, with a wide bike lane running throughout most of the city, Valencia is the perfect place to use a bike. Gently used bikes are available for sale on apps such as Wallapop or you can always rent a bike with Valenbisi. Don’t forget a helmet!

And if you need to get somewhere fast and don’t have a bike, there are a couple new apps that allow you to rent electric scooters or vespas parked throughout the city.

What matters most is that you are aware of the climate situation, and striving to do better.

Cut down on your spending

Ask yourself what you really need, not what you want. Take care of your school supplies and stop buying stuff – do you really need 10 different pens? When shopping for clothes or furniture, take a look at secondhand shops. Apps like Wallapop offer a wide selection of gently used things and you can even sell things you don’t use anymore. Taking care of your belongings, shopping second-hand, and reselling what you don’t need will help you save money, be more eco-friendly, and be more original.

Turn off the lights in the classrooms when you’re the last one to leave

Pretend you are paying that electricity bill every month! Leaving the lights on in a classroom or in the library is not only super expensive and wasteful, but also harmful to the environment because more fossil fuels have to be burned to generate the lost energy.

Be aware of the amount of paper you use (and waste) every semester.

If you pick up handouts for friends that are not in class, make sure you actually deliver them so the papers don’t go to waste. When you can, always try to use the back of papers to take notes and print double-sided when making study guides. If available, try to use the digital option for note taking, power points, and planning with an agenda.

Statistics about the use of plastic bottles
Most of our plastic bottles end up in either the ocean or in a landfill
Plastic? No, thank you!

When buying fruits, vegetables, or baked goods from the grocery store, try to minimize your plastic use and waste. Skip the plastic gloves and turn the plastic bag inside out while you grab your desired snack. An even better option is to buy re-usable bags, available for sale at shops like Natura or Herbolario Navarro.

If you actually need to buy a plastic bag, try to opt for a paper one. However, many supermarket bags are sturdy and last a long time, so you can keep re- using them.

Bring your own refillable water bottle

The university has various water stations placed conveniently all over campus, which you can use to refill your bottle. If you prefer filtered water, try to reduce the amount of plastic by buying a big 8 liter bottle of water at the supermarket and refill your bottle at home before leaving for class. Honestly, there is no need to buy a new plastic water bottle every day.

Use the bike instead of the car!
Why use the car when you live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe?

And if you drink coffee, then you know it’s an addiction worth any price. By bringing your own coffee travel mug, your environmental impact lowers. If you don’t have a travel mug (get one!) or reduce plastic waste by skipping the lid.

Bring your own reusable straw and cutlery!

Plastic single use items are some of the most damaging to the environment while being the easiest to avoid by using metal sustainable replacements. Amazon offers great deals on cutlery packages complete with chopsticks and different-angled straws!

Bring your own food to work or university

Preparing and packaging your own meals is a healthier, cheaper and eco-friendly option then buying pre-made meals. Processed food is not good for you and usually comes with a lot of packaging. When shopping for food, always be aware of what you buy and what ingredients it contains. Try to choose food without palm oil, which contributes to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emission.

Try zero waste!

Although this might seem hard to manage as a student, even storing food in recycled glass jars rather than plastic bags is a step in the right direction. Lush sells many different products perfect for zero waste including shampoo and body wash bars, toothpaste tabs, and face serums. Switch out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo biodegradable one, which will last just as long. Use multi-use beeswax cling wrap to store opened aliments instead of one-time-use plastic wrap.

Be aware of what you buy!

Choose the products with less packaging, without palm oil, and offer promising decomposability. Remember that what you do as a consumer affects what they offer in the stores.

Although some of these suggestions might seem daunting or impossible to follow, remember that every little bit makes a difference and as long as you try to help, you are helping. What matters most is that you are aware of the climate situation, striving to do better, and educating yourself and others. To quote the famous journalist Eduardo Galeano, “Many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world”.

Let’s go change the world!

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