Top 10 tips for being more sustainable

Hello, my name is Lottie, and I am a first-year student, studying French and Spanish. In support of the Climate Emergency Day of Action, I have considered how we can slightly alter our daily routines so that we live more sustainably and ultimately combat climate change. Here are my top 10 tips for living an environmentally friendly life at university!

1. Natural toothbrushes

We can start helping the planet as soon as we wake up in the morning. Most toothbrushes are made of plastic, which is a material that does not decompose. This means that every single plastic toothbrush we have ever used is still on this planet right now! As a result, many people have started to use organic bamboo toothbrushes instead. These toothbrushes are biodegradable, and they also often arrive in sustainable packaging. As well as this, studies show that they can whiten your teeth and improve your oral hygiene. It’s a win-win!

2. Reusing in the kitchen

After brushing your teeth, you might be tempted to have a smoothie or an iced coffee to start your day. Although it is tempting to use plastic straws, many people do not realise that after using them, they often end up in oceans and waterways, harming wildlife as well as contributing to pollution. Metal straws are an excellent substitution because they are reusable which means they can help you save money, as well as combating climate change. If you get thirsty during the day, I would also recommend that you bring a reusable water bottle with you. There are lots of water fountains on campus and this is a money-saver as well!

3. How should we commute?

It is important to consider how we should travel to university if we want to live sustainably. The fuel from cars has a huge negative impact on the environment, which is why it might be better to car share with your neighbours if you are all heading in the same direction. However, the best modes of transport, which are environmentally friendly, are walking or cycling. Maybe you could challenge yourself and try to walk everywhere for a week? Who knows, you might enjoy it.

4. Sustainable studying

While you’re at university, I would recommend that instead of using Google, you use a search engine called ‘Ecosia’. Ecosia uses its income from advertisements to plant trees across the globe. Therefore, whenever you click ‘search’ you are essentially saving the planet! 

5. Go paperless

With the recent advances in technology, it is surprisingly easy to go paperless. Rather than printing out pages and pages of articles and readings, maybe you could create a university folder on your laptop so that everything is easily accessible? Paper waste takes up the most space in landfills (also trees are chopped down to produce paper) so it is especially important that we do not overuse it. We can easily implement this throughout our daily lives too – when was the last time you actually needed a shopping receipt?

6. Reduce waste

Next time you’re buying fruit and vegetables, perhaps you could buy them in a 0-waste food store! These are shops which were specially designed to reduce waste. In Bristol, you can find them on Regent Street, North Street, Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road.

7. Shopping bags

Did you know that all plastic bags in the supermarket cost at least 25p? This law was introduced in 2015 to reduce litter and general pollution and studies show that this has been successful so far. If you want to help the environment, whilst saving money, you can use your own bags to carry your shopping home. I would recommend foldable shopping bags (which you can find on Amazon) because you can easily store them in your university bag during the day.

8. Where to buy clothes?

Fast fashion is a huge problem for the environment. Brands such as Zara, H&M and New Look all contribute to the pollution of water and produce waste, due to the manufacturing process of clothes. Therefore, as students, we can easily buy our clothes elsewhere so that we can live more sustainably. As well as apps like Depop and Vinted, there are various vintage and charity shops in Bristol which sell clothes which are in great condition and relatively cheap. I would recommend the Vintage Thrift Store on Park Street and Shelter in Clifton.

9. Reusable makeup wipes

At the end of a long day, if you’re a makeup user, it is always very tempting to use a wipe to remove that last bit of makeup off your face. However, due to the plastic packaging of these products, wipes can become very harmful for the environment. I would personally recommend using reusable makeup pads, which are made from organic materials, such as bamboo cotton. These can be found in the Body Shop and Boots – they are also great for your skin! 

10. Sustainable shower products

Before going to bed, we must be mindful of the products we use. It has been scientifically proven that most shampoo bottles are not recycled correctly. Companies, such as Lush, have created products, like shampoo bars, which do not use plastic. According to the Lush website, almost 6 million plastic bottles have been used due to these shampoo bars! In 0 waste stores (mentioned earlier) there is also sometimes the option to refill your own shampoo bottles from home.

Thank you so much for reading my top 10 tips today! I hope that you learned something new! What are you going to implement into your daily routine to lead a sustainable lifestyle at university?

Written by Student Champion – Lottie Aikens

Fast Fashion and how students can fight it

Following the holidays, students have loads of new clothes from shopping themselves or as gifts from loved ones. The growing trend of fast fashion sees an increase during the holiday season and is responsible for increased environmental damage due to its cheap and harmful form of manufacturing.

Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand.

According to Business Insider, fashion production comprises 10% of total global carbon emissions, as much as the European Union. In addition to this, it dries up water sources as it takes up to 20,00 litres of water to make one kilo of cotton. While washing the clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year which is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

As fast fashion is not designed to last, it results in textile waste as consumers throw out the last seasons clothes with the hope of buying what is trending at the moment. Enormous landfills of discarded clothes then become a reality as it is incredibly difficult for companies to effectively recycle their materials.

What can you do

Fast fashion is attractive to students due to its cheap prices and multiple deals but as global citizens, we have a duty to source sustainable and environmentally friendly options. This can be done by:

  • Recycling clothes that would usually be disposed after the holiday season. You can do this by taking the clothes to Bristol’s Reuse and Recycling Centres or alternatively by leaving it outside your homes or student accommodations in the black recycling box.
  • There is a huge market for reselling items online on websites like De-Pop that would allow students to sell their second-hand clothes.
  • Students can also donate the clothes to charities like OXFAM or clothing banks located in Bristol.
  • To purchase clothes, there are thrift shops found in Bristol that could appeal to students such as:
    • The Vintage Thrift Store (35-37 park street)
    • Sobeys
    • Uncle Sam’s
    • The Magpie

More information on what you can do as a student at the University of Bristol is located on this website:

Written by Student Champion, Marvin Karenzi 

Search the internet and plant a tree

This blog was written by veterinary students Hannah and Elspeth. They have successfully campaigned for the University to adopt Ecosia as our default search engine on all open access computers across campus.

During a time when it is essential to make changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle, we knew the University of Bristol needed to switch to Ecosia, so our campaign started. With the University declaring a climate emergency in 2019, and committing to carbon neutrality, the move to Ecosia fits with becoming a more sustainable campus.

Ecosia is a search engine, which uses its revenue to fund tree planting in twenty different projects across the world, where trees are needed most. This not only has huge environmental benefits but also social impact for the surrounding communities. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, preventing excess greenhouse gases building up in our atmosphere, they also…


Celebrating 10 years of the Green Impact Awards

We’ve recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Green Impact Awards, a University of Bristol-born environmental initiative, which has gone on to have national impact. It has been adopted by over 400 UK organisations such as University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, North Bristol NHS Trust and 50 universities across the country.

Green Impact Award winners 2018

The Green Impact Scheme challenges staff to implement several actions within their departments to help the environment: things like saving energy, volunteering, using more sustainable transport and recycling. The more actions teams complete, the more points are scored, leading to a Bronze, Bronze Plus, Silver, Gold or Platinum Award. Students can volunteer as Green Impact Project Assistants or Green Impact Auditors.

  • Green Impact Project Assistants: students receive certified NUS training and then use their new skills to help Green Impact teams complete their workbooks by improving the sustainability of their workplaces. This usually begins shortly after the launch of the scheme, and ends just before it closes. Green Impact Project Assistants provide ongoing assistance to teams during this period.
  • Green Impact Auditors: students receive certified NUS training to carry out the official end-of-scheme audits of Green Impact teams and their workplaces to make sure teams have completed all actions logged in their submitted workbooks. Training and audits usually take place in one day following the close of the scheme.

“The Green Impact Awards are a fantastic testament to how the efforts of individuals and teams can combine to achieve instrumental positive effects on our environment. We’re immensely proud to have created a scheme that has gone on to be adopted across the country and of all of our staff and students whose work has contributed positively on our environment.”

Martin Wiles, University of Bristol Head of Sustainability.

For 2019, the Sustainability Team are busy planning how the Green Impact Awards will work alongside other sustainability schemes at the University. Keep an eye on the Green University pages for further updates.