Ten ways to be a more sustainable student

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Published by Lucy
on 11/02/2020

I think most of us these days want to be more sustainable.

We all want to make better choices for our planet. But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. The more you dig into climate change and how humans have contributed to it, the more overwhelming it can feel. This is especially true for a student on a limited budget… Let’s be honest, sometimes making good choices for the planet can be dangerous for your bank balance! Here are my ten ways to be more sustainable as a student on a budget.


We all need to wear clothes – that is probably never going to change. But the clothing industry with its love of cheap, fast fashion is one of the most damaging for the environment. Below are three easy ways you can lower your carbon footprint.

1. Buy second hand!

As a size 14 – 16, it can be difficult to buy clothes second-hand. Even since the rise in the number of vintage clothing stores, most only stock a limited range of sizes. In this case, eBay and other online second-hand sites are your best friend! Rather than spending half a day trawling a bunch of shops unsuccessfully, I just spend 30 minutes searching these sites looking for particular items. It’s a game-changer.

2. Wash on cold!

Another simple change that makes a huge difference is washing your clothes on cold or at 20 degrees. My washing machine has four eco-friendly cold wash settings. Trust me, your clothes will be clean and it’ll help the planet. Also, hang dry your clothes on an airer or washing line rather than using a tumble dryer!

3. Pala Sunglasses!

There are so many environmentally friendly sunglasses brands out there, but I personally love Pala. The glasses themselves are made from recycled plastic and come in a range of styles. They’re durable and Pala work alongside a Ghanaian-based NGO to support weaving communities, meaning even the case is helping to make the world a better place.


I’ll be honest, I’m kind of lazy when it comes to my beauty regime. I hate using products that require additional steps or are just difficult to use. But I have made a few changes to make my beauty regime more environmentally friendly.

4. Glass nail file!

I use a glass nail file instead of the disposable ones. It’ll last forever, it works better than the usual ones and it’s better for the planet as you are reducing your waste. I got mine for less than a tenner. I’ve had it for over three years with no complaints!

5. Toothpaste tablets!

For some people, this will be a change that they just can’t make, but personally, it works for me. I swapped from normal toothpaste to Dentabs over a year ago and haven’t had any problems. I buy them in bulk and get a six month supply of tablets for £13.40 so it’s super affordable and lasts for ages. They still contain fluoride but without any plastic packaging that damages the planet.

6. Electric Toothbrush!

One thing I couldn’t give up was my electric toothbrush. Partly because it felt incredibly wasteful to get rid of a perfectly good piece of equipment and swap to a bamboo one. Plus, I love how clean my teeth feel when I use it. So instead, I now subscribe to a closed-loop recycling system for the toothbrush heads. It helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste and means I won’t ever run out.

7. Razor!

I know everyone advocates for the safety razor but it just terrifies me. Believe it or not, I’ve never cut myself shaving and I don’t want to start at 26… Instead, I get my razors from Friction Free Shaving. Like the toothbrush heads, it’s a closed-loop recycling system. It costs £9 every other month and as the razor gets delivered to my door, I don’t have to stress about using a worn-out razor!

8. Bar of soap!

Probably the simplest change you can make is to ditch the body wash bottles and fancy liquid eye soap. Instead, go back to the classic bar of soap. They last forever and if you go somewhere like Lush, you have a massive range of scents that are ethically sourced and wrapped in plastic-free packaging.

9. Reusable water bottle!

I feel like everyone has jumped on this trend but just in case you haven’t already, get a reusable water bottle. Mine is a glass one with a bamboo lid. It also contains a strainer so I use it for peppermint tea and water!

10. Toilet paper!

If you haven’t guessed already, I love a subscription service. It means I don’t have to make a conscious decision to be environmentally friendly every time I run out of something. The same goes for my toilet paper. When I moved to Birmingham, I signed up to ‘Who Gives a Crap‘ and now have 100% recycled toilet paper delivered to my door every 36 weeks. Plus, it comes in cute paper packaging!

Thanks for reading! Remember, if you have any questions about student life at Birmingham, don’t hesitate to message me on Instagram – @phdlifewithlucy