Guest Blog: How to Live Sustainably at University | OpinionPanel x YouthSight

Guest Blog | 06 Dec 2021

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OPC X YSLiving sustainably is a top priority for young people. We know that Gen Z (16-24s) are on the frontline of driving change to reduce our footprint on the planet - but what lifestyle changes are they making to achieve this and how will this affect brands?

In this guest blog we hear tips from a university student on how to live sustainably whilst navigating university life and managing finances. 

This is the thirteenth article in our guest blog series written by members of our OpinionPanel Community. In the series you can hear Gen Z's stories, opinions and experiences written in their own words and on the topics that matter most to them. Read more from the series here.


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If you’re like me, you might be wondering how you could live sustainable and make a difference when you're living at university - a time when you must manage finances and live independently. You have more to manage and sometimes more restraint due to costs, organised living spaces and living with new people. It can be tricky.

But the simplest changes can make a difference. Here are some top tips and suggestions to help make sustainable living a part of your routine

1. Fashion

Shopping is great fun for lots of people, and it’s nice to have a new outfit for going out, upcoming interviews or new sports gear - and being a student, makes the appeal of cheap fashion very attractive. It might have a nice price tag, but its environmental impact is often very damaging.

Buying from second-hand websites, such as Vinted or Depop is a great way to buy not only cheap clothes, but sustainable ones. Moreover, selling your clothes also brings in some extra cash for you and again helps stop the fast fashion movement.

Charity shopping can also be a fun activity and you can find some amazing bargains. There is a brilliant website called ‘Good on you’ where you can search brands and it gives them a rating for how sustainable they are in regard to: their environmental impact, their impact on people, and their impact on animals (https://directory.goodonyou.eco). It also gives you suggestions for some great ethical alternative brands to shop from.

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2. Food

Eating less meat is a very common suggestion that a lot of people advocate for. Sometimes as a student its harder to be as flexible with your meals, but maybe committing to eating vegetarian or vegan for the weekdays is a good way to start cutting down on your meat consumption. Or you could do a month of a vegetarian diet or choose to cut down on meat (and just eat chicken for example).

If you do want to eat meat, looking at where it has been sourced from is also a good way to help eat sustainably. Buying loose fruit and veg is also great. Supermarkets now often have paper bags that you can weigh your carrots or apples in, reducing the sale of produce in plastic packaging.

TooGoodToGo is a great app for preventing food waste. You pay a reduced cost for a ‘mystery meal’ at some of your favourite restaurants, shops and cafes. This works to reduce food waste at the end of the day, while meaning you can get fast food for a lower price!

3. Living

There are also some easy swaps that you can make in your everyday routines.

  • Using a shower, shampoo or conditioner bar is a great way to cut down on your plastic.
  • Taking a travel mug to cafes, instead of a single use take out cup, will reduce waste (cafes  sometimes have price incentives for this as well).
  • When shopping, use reusable cloth bags or old plastic bags to reduce the amount of plastic you use.

These are just some suggestions, but even one swap can help make a difference.


Diary of a Fresher Video Series

Enjoyed this blog? Check out our mini-series which follows a group of freshers as they settle into university life. Experience their highlights and struggles, and find out what institutions can do to nail that first impression. 


Read more about the OpinionPanel 

The OpinionPanel Community is the UK's largest youth research panel with over 150,000 highly engaged 13-30 year olds ready to take part in your research project.  

Our Community is more than just a research panel; it's a platform for young people to express themselves, share their thoughts and experiences with peers, learn from thought-leadership articles and hear alternative views on topical subjects. 

If you have a youth research project that you'd like to talk to us about, click below to get in touch.

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