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How to Help Fight Climate Change at University

How to Help Fight Climate Change at University main image

Guest post: Emily Valentine

Climate change and energy efficiency might be the last things on your mind when you’re up to your neck in uni coursework. But these issues are hitting headlines right now, and will become even more important in the future. Saving energy and saving money go hand in hand, so why not stretch your student loan that little bit further while helping to save the environment?

Climate change in a nutshell

To cut a long story short, the use of non-renewable energy sources (coal, gas and oil) is increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing a shift in climate which could have a devastating effect on our planet. Greenpeace describes climate change as “the gravest threat to life we know”, which “threatens to unravel Earth's complex web of life, and puts livelihoods, coastal cities and food production at risk.”

While there are those who deny that climate change is a thing (we’re looking at you, Donald Trump) there’s plenty of evidence that our climate is heating up and having a negative effect on the planet. 

Want to learn more? Have a read of Grist’s myth-busting “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” or NASA’s guide to the effects of climate change.

As a student, what can you do?

Get fuel savvy

The key to solving climate change is using renewable energy from sources such as solar power and wind farms. While it’s (probably) not possible for you to install solar paneling in your student accommodation, you can cut down on the amount of energy you’re using. Try the following:

-    Always switch off lights when you leave a room.

-    Air dry your clothes instead of using a fuel-guzzling tumble dryer.

-    Wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is full before running a cycle.

-    Take shorter showers or shallower baths.

-    Use the timer so the heating only comes on when you really need it.

-    Invest in some low-cost energy-saving lightbulbs.

-    When using the kettle, only boil as much water as you need.

-    Layer up your clothes so you can turn your thermostat down a few degrees.

The knock-on effect? A lower energy bill. It’s a win-win situation!

Choose an eco-friendly university

It might not be top of your list of priorities when choosing a university, but it’s worth exploring how eco-friendly yours is. Check out this beautifully designed energy-saving student accommodation at Cambridge University in the UK. The building is made from reclaimed oak, makes use of collected rainwater, and has triple-glazed windows and super-thick insulation. 

While some do it better than others, universities often collaborate with local industry, charities and government organizations to find ways in which they can improve their energy efficiency and environmental impact. Many detail their sustainability efforts on their website, so this is a great place to start if you want to do some research. 

Get involved in student campaigning

If you’re already at uni, why not see if there are any environmental initiatives you can get involved in – this could be a way for you to develop new skills and knowledge, meet likeminded people, and help to drive forward sustainable practices. See what student societies are active on your campus, and find out how you can help.

Aside from having a positive impact on climate change, you could also earn rewards from being more eco-friendly. The Student Energy Project is a creative example of an initiative that offers incentives for reducing energy usage. This UK scheme encourages students to cut their fuel costs and collect points which are redeemable against a variety of rewards. Why not look around and see if there are any student energy saving incentives offered where you live? 

Become an expert in sustainability

Did you know you could study environmental management and sustainability? With the right expertise, you could turn your passion for the environment into an exciting and rewarding career.  With a growing number of industries recognizing the importance of being environmentally aware, this is an area that is filled with possibilities for innovation. 

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Emily Valentine writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse their graduate jobs, visit their website.

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