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14 steps to help the environment at university

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Published: December 5, 2019

The environment could really do with all the help it can get. By making a few changes to your lifestyle you can make an impact and save some money and improve your health in the process. Take a look at our tips to find out how you can do your part while studying or working at the University.

heart shape in tree

Learn to love tap water

When it comes to water consumption we could all do with easing up a little. Here are just some of the ways you can be more responsible with your water usage:

1. Get over your fear of drinking tap water. Research has shown that bottled water is not healthier or safer. In addition to this, the value chain of plastic water bottles has a big environmental footprint. 

2. Bin the bottle: while you’re at University, instead of buying bottled water take advantage of the free water dispensers installed around campus.

3. Cut down on soft drinks: soft drinks have high costs and carbon footprints, besides, drinking water is better for you – it keeps you hydrated, healthy and alert

4. Be mindful of your water usage: remember that parental advice, ‘don’t leave the tap running when you brush your teeth’, ‘fill the washing machine up with full loads’, ‘get out of the shower already’, and you’ll be on the right track to reducing your water consumption

FACT: bottled water is 500 times as expensive as tap, that’s like paying around £1,500 for a pint of beer. Get a BPA-free bottle for life and take it with you wherever you go.


Reduce your footprint

A few minor changes to your behaviour can lower your carbon footprint. Keep these common-sense tips in mind to help reduce your energy consumption:

5. Switch off lights and electrical equipment: if you don’t need them on why leave them on?

6. Bask in the sunshine: sometimes you don’t realise just how much difference sunlight makes to the warmth of a room. In a room with lots of windows it makes sense to open the blinds to warm it up and close the blinds when it’s too hot. Also be sure to turn off electric lights when there’s enough natural light to work by

7. Dress for the weather: save on unnecessary heating or air conditioning by giving some thought towards your wardrobe

FACT: A PC monitor left on overnight can waste enough electricity to laser print over 500 pages. (Energy Saving Trust)

Check out the WWF’s carbon footprint calculator to see how your lifestyle measures up.


Treasure your rubbish

With all the recycling facilities readily available across the University, you’d be going out of your way not to recycle these days. If we all do our part we can reduce our waste significantly. Keep up these good habits and encourage your friends and family to do the same:

8. Buy and sell responsibly: there’s no need to take things to the tip when there’s plenty of people on Ebay waiting to bid on your treasure or Facebook selling groups. In the same way, why buy new when you can find something a bit more individual from charity, vintage or second-hand shops? Always check online ads, like Gumtree, Freecycle and Ebay before you buy new – not only will you help save the environment but also the contents of your wallet

9. Reuse everything: don’t stop with the bag-for-life, take a look at other things in your everyday life or home that you can reuse or repurpose. Why not try your hand at upcycling? Take a look at Upcycle That for some ideas to turn your things into one-of-kind pieces.

10. Purchase rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones

FACT: Rechargeable batteries have 28 times less impact on global warming, 30 times less impact on air pollution, nine times less impact on air acidification and 12 times less impact on water pollution than their disposable counterparts


Stop sitting in traffic

The University of Sunderland offers a number of green travel options to help you choose more environmentally-friendly ways to get to the University and travel around the city.

11. Plan to cycle or walk just once a week and you’ll be making a significant difference in reducing emissions, plus you’ll save money on travel costs.

FACT: It only takes 20-25 minutes to walk between the 2 campuses in Sunderland.

For more information on travelling to the University and between campuses see the Student Travel and Sustainable travel sections.


Live better

Living more sustainably tends to encourage a healthier lifestyle. The University of Sunderland is committed to becoming a more sustainable institution. Working with our Faculties, Services and partners we ensure that we minimise our environmental impact. Find out how we are working towards our sustainability goals. Here are a few ways you could work towards us achieving this:

12. Keep your meal portions small: whether you’re eating out or buying food at the supermarket, be aware of how much food you actually need. Not only will smaller portions be healthier it’ll also reduce your food waste. See the Love Food Hate Waste website for more information on how you can reduce your food waste.

13. Count your steps: studies have shown that people walk on average an extra mile per day when tracking their steps with a pedometer. Why not have a step challenge with your fellow students/colleagues.

14. If you are currently a student at the University of Sunderland and are looking for ways to get more active, you could sign up for membership at the University’s CitySpace gym. Plus there are many different sport and activity clubs for you to join. Check out Clubs and Teams to find one that interests you.

FACT: The average person wastes around £200 of food per year.


Health Safety & Environment Team



Topic: Advice and tips