Aisling O'Connor gives some great tips on how to keep your carbon footprint down in college.
Donald Trump may believe that climate change is a conspiracy created by the Chinese, but unfortunately it is a very real issue. Sources say that we are entering the largest mass extinction since the age of the dinosaurs. Mufasa wasn’t lying in the Lion King when he said that we’re all connected in the circle of life: one animal becomes extinct which in turn affects the predators that feed on it and so on and so forth until the whole eco-system is messed up. The summers are getting hotter while winters are stormier. As individuals it can seem like a hopeless situation, but the actions of many do add up so the little things are important.
 
Here are some tips for being eco-friendly in college:
 
1. Bring your own lunch: Getting a plastic container for lunch may make you feel like you’re in school again but it will save you from throwing out waste. You’re likely to save money in the long run, and because you made it you know exactly what you’re eating – so no more disappointing meals on campus.
 
2. Coffee flasks and reusable water bottle: Again, like your lunch, this will save you money as you can simply fill up a water bottle on campus without having to buy a new bottle every day, and there’s a kettle in the chaplancy if you want to make yourself a cup of tea. It’s nice to stroll into your 9am with your favourite tea or coffee from home.
 
3. Walk or get the bus to college: I know walking isn’t the most popular activity for students and the bus is never on time, but walking to college will do wonders for your health and reduce your carbon footprint. Getting the bus means there’s less cars on the road and therefore less carbon emissions produced. Plus, it’s likely to cost less than petrol, car insurance etc.
 
4. Turn things off: Even having electrical appliances on standby takes up electricity. Remember to turn everything off before you leave the house. For some reason my family like to leave the TV or radio on when we leave in case the dog feels lonely, but to be honest, I really don’t think he cares.
 
5. Print on both sides: You probably have to see if your lecturer is okay with it first for assignments, but saving paper saves the trees and they’re the ones producing the oxygen so we kinda need them.
 
6. Meat free Monday: I’m not going to force vegetarianism or veganism down anyone’s throats, but you would be astounded at just how much the meat industry contributes to climate change and greenhouse gas. Even one day a week without meat can make a difference, and it won’t kill you (or any poor little chickens or cows for that matter) to do. Some research suggests that having a more plant based diet is healthier and helps you live longer, so it’s pretty much a win win situation.
 
7. Charity shops: Instead of throwing old clothes away, a charity shop would be more than happy to take them. While you’re there have a look around the shop before you decide to impulse buy half of Penny’s. You could find an absolute gem in there for your wardrobe and the money goes to a good cause.
 
8. Clothes swap: If charity shops don’t appeal to you, clothes swaps with friends might. Simply gather all the clothes you no longer want, and have friends do the same. You might hate that top your mam made you wear a few years ago but someone else might like it, and you could get something you love for free out of it!
 
9. Make something new with the old: This can apply to clothes again, or pretty much anything else if you want to be creative. There are plenty of tutorials online on how to turn old clothes into a new outfit, and literally thousands of ideas on reddit.
 
10. Buy products made from bamboo: Bamboo can grow up to one metre in a day, whereas it takes decades to regrow most trees. It also absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than trees, so I don’t know why it isn’t been grown everywhere. Lots of bamboo products are available now such as clothing, toys, make-up brushes etc. My make-up bag and brushes are bamboo and they’re actually much nicer than what I had before. It’s like the coconut oil of material!
 
11. Dispose of your naggins properly: We all have piles of empty drink bottles and naggings in our rooms, and throwing them in the bin can not only be dangerous if they break but also contributes to waste. A bottle bank will reuse the glass so that empty naggin of vodka will get a whole new life. If you want to be creative you can use glass bottles as candle holders too or make a bird feeder with it.