15 simple ways to become a more environmentally responsible student

More of us are choosing to re-evaluate our personal impact on the environment, and rightly so. As students, no act is too small or insignificant to have a positive effect.

We’ve compiled an absolutely epic list of 15 ways you can make environmentally responsible changes to your lifestyle. Whether you choose to implement all, some or even just one of these tips, you’ll be on the way to doing your part.


1. Get a reusable coffee cup

The coffee addiction is real, I mean how else is one supposed to get through exams? It is no surprise that coffee is part of your daily routine, but what isn’t great is all those disposable cups and lids. According to the ABC, Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups per year. Splurge on a stylish reusable coffee cup – we love KeepCups and Frank Green – and minimise this daily waste

2. Get a reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle
While you’re at it, pick up a reusable water bottle and keep those hydration levels high. The University of Wollongong recently estimated that 373 million plastic water bottles end up as waste each year. Water bottle refill stations are popping up Brisbane wide, so you have no excuses. Frank Green also does super cute and highly customisable water bottles.

3. Don’t buy your lunch out

Grabbing a quick takeaway lunch always seems like a good idea at the time but you’re actually much better off if you BYO your lunch from home. This will save on excessive packaging and plastic utensils, which is a big yes considering 40 billion plastic forks are wasted every year in the US alone, as stated by Forbes. And your wallet will thank you for it too.

4. Walk or ride your bike when you can, catch public transport or car pool

Three people riding on Brisbane CityCycle bikes
The World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million premature deaths each year are attributed to air pollution, of which a large proportion is caused by vehicular traffic. There are so many ways you can get from A to B by environmentally friendly means. Go for a stroll and get your steps in for the day, borrow a Student One bike or sign up to CityCycle, make the most of Brisbane’s awesome public transport system, or hitch a ride with your friends.

5. Eat less meat, especially the red kind

This one may look intimidating, but you don’t have to completely give up meat – unless you want to – just cut down on your meat consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. A scary fact as that’s more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together. Start with baby steps, introduce Meat Free Mondays or only eat meat in one meal of every day.

6. Watch your wardrobe

We all love a new outfit, but not at the cost of the environment. Un Environment says nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry. Check out op shops and buy second hand clothes – the ones in Paddington are great – donate any old clothes you no longer need or want to the same op shops, or sell them at the markets, borrow clothes from your friends and learn how to mend them. Don’t throw them away as soon as a button falls off. Also, keep in mind your washing habits, only wash when you have a full load even if it means splitting a load with your roommates and skip the dryer, opting to air dry instead.

7. Shop local and only buy what you need

Produce markets
Shop locally and support our Aussie farmers. This way you’ll be buying food that is in season, supports farmers who are choosing to farm sustainably and gives you produce that is packed with nutrients. You can find your local produce markets here. While the food inspo at the markets will be high, restrain buying everything and anything. Plan your meals for the week and go in with a shopping list and a game plan. This will stop you over buying and throwing away perfectly good food you just didn’t get to.

8. Turn off anything you’re not using

While about 15% of Queensland’s power comes from renewable sources, there is still a long way to go. Changes like turning off your lights, appliances and air conditioning when leaving your Student One room may feel small, but it all adds up. While it will be difficult to remember to do at first, once you’ve made a habit out of it you won’t even notice you’re doing it anymore.

9. Cut down your water use

Australia is one very dry country and water is always precious. In fact, parts of Australia are suffering through one of the worst droughts in memory. Keep your showers short, turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, fill up the kitchen sink before doing your dishes and only run full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.

10. Recycle, recycle, recycle

We’ll say it one more time, recycle. Recycling is such an easy habit to get into and it can even make you some quick cash. Take your plastic and glass bottles and cans to a recycling station – you can find a list of recycling centres here – rather than adding to Australia’s waste problem, and walk away with cash in hand. While you won’t get any money out of recycling your paper, cardboard and food scraps, you should definitely still be doing it. On the topic of paper, use recycled paper when printing and try to cut back on your printing generally.

11. Watch the rubbish

We all know littering is bad and it wreaks havoc on our waterways. It really it isn’t that hard to pop your rubbish in your bag to throw away at home (Student One has rubbish chutes on all floors for your convenience), or walk it to the nearest bin. Do your part by taking any rogue rubbish you see flying around with you at the same time, or go one step further by volunteering with Clean Up Australia.

12. BYO shopping bags

Reuseable bags
Single-use plastic bags are banned Queensland wide, but you should probably still be avoiding the plastic bags you can get at the supermarket. Around 16 million plastic shopping bags end up in the environment in Queensland each year. This is equivalent in weight to 96 small cars. Head down to the Student One reception and grab a free shopping bag, or invest in a few canvas or cotton bags. Our faves are from Biome and they have a wide range so you’re sure to find something you like. While you’re at the grocery store, also look for produce in minimal packaging, your fruit and veg don’t really need to be in all that plastic.

13. Be textbook smart

Textbooks are great for helping you during the semester, but once you’ve passed your subjects they become wasteful. If available, use an online option for your textbooks, look for second-hand ones online or at your university’s second-hand bookstore, or borrow your textbook from the library. If you have already bought your textbooks it isn’t too late, most university bookstores will buy them back at a discounted rate.

14. Think of the turtles, say no to straws

Plastic straws are going out of fashion in a big way. You can now easily buy metal straws or paper straws for use at home, and when out and about simply ask for no straw. If having a straw is a must you can always bring one of your reusable straws from home.

15. Reuse anything and everything

If you can reuse it, then do it, instead of adding it to the growing rubbish pile. Run out of Vegemite? No worries, just wash the jar out, peel off the Vegemite label (or leave it up to you) and use it for storage. Got takeaway from your favourite restaurant last night? Once you’ve finished with the leftovers, wash out the container and use it for your meal prep.