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It’s that time of year again when we’re all getting back into the University lifestyle and in the case of first years, experiencing a lot of independence from your parents or guardians for the first time too. Living away from home is a great opportunity to do things your way and since our generation are more environmentally aware than our parents and grandparents generations, it is your opportunity to really put into practice your green credentials.
I’ll start off with shopping habits since every student can shop how they like. If you decide to go shopping (not just food shopping), it’s a good idea to take a few carrier bags of your own because most of them are not eco-friendly and most shops have to charge at least 5p for them. If you don’t have any, buy a couple of non-plastic shopping bags since they are often made using natural, biodegradable materials and they tend to last longer than normal bags.
If you want to go further, you could buy organic, free range and local produce as it reduces chemicals and pollution from transportation and even shop from ethical companies and local, independent businesses that often stock fresh, local produce. There’s also a twice weekly market in Lancaster on Wednesdays and Saturdays along with a weekly farmers market in Alexandra Square which sells lovely cakes, pies and free range eggs that are very affordable. Saving leftover food where possible will save you a lot of money and unnecessary waste. If you do have any food that you’re not going to use, there are food collection boxes in every college as well as the big Sainsbury’s for food to be given to local people living in poverty.
Lancaster is fortunate enough to have plenty of charity shops and a couple of vintage shops where you can get some really nice clothes, homeware, books etc.. Second hand is much cheaper than elsewhere so you can save money as well as avoid depleting the earth’s resources. If you want or need something that is brand new, you can see if there is a local, independent business that sells it since they are more likely to sell locally produced and environmentally friendly goods than some of the big high street chains.
You can also be green in your accommodation, something that the University actively encourages. The most important tip on this one is putting the right waste in the right bins because a lot of people still don’t when recycling saves on natural resources and reduces the amount going to landfill. Did you know that you can also recycle your batteries on campus at special collection points in the colleges? Since much of the campus accommodation is so well insulated, you can leave your radiator off without freezing and it’s much easier to warm up than cool down so just add a layer or make a hot drink if you’re a bit cold. In your kitchens, you could cook at the same time where there is room and share the oven and hot water to save on electricity.
Even in your leisure time, you can still be ‘green’ by taking part in outdoor sports, going to walk along the canal or the park and enjoy the beautiful countryside we have on our doorstep to spend time away from our increasingly indoor lives that depend on large amounts of electricity and gas.
There are so many eco-living tips on the internet and I haven’t even scratched the surface here and I recommend the environment section of The Guardian for more innovative ideas. I’ll leave you with some links that might be useful for you.
- Independent Lancaster – A loyalty card scheme which encourages people to support Lancaster’s small businesses (http://www.independent-lancaster.co.uk/)
- Esme – An ethical goods supplier based near Lancaster that provides a free local delivery service (http://www.ouresme.com/)
- Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association has a list of member businesses available on its website (http://www.lancasteresta.org/)