What YOU can do to be a more sustainable student

Ellie Blackburn

Why is ethical purchasing and sustainability so important?

At this point, I feel it’s almost impossible to be unaware of the Green Revolution. Between Greta Thunberg mocking Trump’s attempt to @ her on Twitter, to the legend that is Sir David Attenborough, loving the planet has never been cooler.

However, it’s important to keep the issue fresh in our minds. So, the first thing I think we can all do this month is just take a moment to refresh ourselves about the current state of affairs. Maybe read the Environmental section in The Guardian, or watch “A Life on Our Planet” on Netflix (bring tissues for that one), or go follow an Environmental Activist account on Instagram (shameless plug @the_brunette_activist). Try to remind yourself how lucky we are to call a place this beautiful place ‘home’. If you’re a super keen bean like me, have a look to see whether you can even take a module that focuses on environmental issues! I’ve taken several Environmental Law Modules this year, and I absolutely love them. Remind yourself about the impact of consumerism on the planet, and think about why ethical purchasing is important!

What eco-friendly options do I have in Durham?

Check out Scoop Durham, it’s a new store on the Riverwalk complex, and it tries to eliminate packaging, so you can take a jar and fill it with pasta or whatever, and you pay by weight. It’s run by students too, so this is definitely a good spot to check out. Some of the smaller shops in Prince Bishops and the Indoor Market also sell local produce (Shout-out to my personal fave: South Durham Honey!) Check out the local produce you can order here.

Think about volunteering. The Durham Wildlife Trust often take on volunteers and there are plenty of student-led groups within colleges (e.g: Embrace the Waste at Castle – free leftover food from cool restaurants!) and the Student Union that do Environmental Volunteering and awareness raising campaigns too, check out the groups here.

Where can I appreciate natural beauty?

Sitting in nature, for me really highlights why it’s important to be an ethical consumer?

  • Walk the River Path by Hild Bede/ The Racecourse (cover pic) – it’s really gorgeous on a sunny day
  • Check out the local coastline – South Shields and Tynemouth are just two of the beautiful beaches
  • Visit the Botanic Gardens – Free entry with your Campus Card!
The beautiful Botanic Gardens in Spring

What can I do?

Once you’re feeling sufficiently re-energised about going green, have a think about how you might be able to make little changes in your life that will make you greener. I’m a big believer in every little helps – here are some of my favourite suggestions, and some of them are even fun to try out!

  • Try out plant-based food – The dairy and meat industries are huge greenhouse gas emitters, and making some changes to your diet is actually one of the most effective ways for individuals to do their part for the planet. If you can’t cut it though – buy free-range or local if possible. To understand this better, check this out, https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/why-meat-is-bad-for-the-environment/
  • Think about trying to shop more sustainably – fast fashion and the textiles industry are also huge emissions culprits. There are great alternatives nowadays. Take Allbirds shoes, for example, they’re dubbed ‘the comfiest shoes in the world’ and if that’s not enough to persuade you to check them out, they’re also super green – https://www.allbirds.co.uk
  • Try out packaging free beauty products, these are actually a lot of fun – https://uk.lush.com/plastic-free
  • Make little changes –  Recycle! Shower instead of taking a bath, only boil the amount of water you actually NEED for your cuppa. Donate to organisations that lobby big companies to be more green (like Greenpeace), or write to your local MP and ask them what they’re doing about the environment and sustainable produce in your area.

To find out more about what we are doing to protect the environment visit our Greenspace webpages here

Ellie Blackburn

My name is Ellie Blackburn, I’m a Post-Graduate student studying for my Masters in International Law and Governance. I was also lucky enough to do my Undergraduate Law Degree here, so this is actually my Fourth Year studying at Durham. I’ve been part of University (Castle) College my whole time here.

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