I’m guilty of never being without a Pret filter coffee when I’m on campus, but I’ve since swapped the cream cup and red lid for a Frank Green SmartCup. These reusable coffee cups are revolutionary: you can customise the colours and pick which shade of pastel looks best, and because they’re made from a food grade copolymer, they can be recycled at the end of their life. They are a little pricy, but if you do the maths, they’ll have smugly paid for themselves (Pret and Costa knock 50p off their coffee if you bring your own cup) within a few weeks so I would recommend the investment. Their packaging is all recyclable too so extra brownie points there. Once you’ve tried these cute coffee cups, you won’t be going back to the poor paper offerings of Pret.
Another drink-related eco-friendly habit I’ve recently got into is loose leaf tea. Going home over the summer, I thought my parents had fully hit their mid-life crisis, carefully hand-straining their tea at 6:30am and pointedly ignoring the foil package of leftover teabags I had brought home from uni. But I’ve since become a tea strainer convert; although the process is fiddly, it’s worth it. Many teabag brands use polypropylene, a sealing plastic that stops the teabag from falling apart in the boiling water. But even if you’ve already gone half the extra mile and your used teabags are compost-bound, not all the plastic will be broken down, and the problem is only half fixed. Instead, I trialled Amazon Prime’s selection of tea strainers and have hit on the least complicated one for my anti-morning moods, while cutting down my plastic consumption (and drinking much nicer tea).
Transport is another way we can love our planet. Fortunately, Exeter is not vast by any standards and most of us can walk or cycle over the hills to campus and back. Nights out tend be another matter. Pooling together for a taxi is a step but still discharges car fumes. Why not consider walking or even cycling to your Wednesday social in town? I’ve turned up to a rowing social in TP resplendent in a helmet and bike lights. Looking slightly ridiculous is a small price to pay to look after our world. And you’ve saved money on an overpriced 10-minute taxi ride – winner.
Washing machines alone eat up a lot of electricity, water and chemicals, so tumble driers seem to be adding insult to injury when it comes to being a clean and green student. The stats are shocking: one laundry load washed at 40°C and dried on the line contributes 0.7kg of CO2e to the carbon footprint, whereas tumble drying the same load at the same temperature ups the carbon footprint to 2.4kg of CO2e. Why not hang up your clothes to dry outside on the clothes horse your parents brought from Wilko in fresher’s week?
Being a student with a tight budget, I’m learning that minimising my environmental impact comes down to the small costs and inconveniences to myself, that when grouped together can make a real difference. Why not give it a go: invest in a coffee cup, try some loose leaf tea, and hang out your washing? Your housemate in the room next to the tumble drier will thank you, and so will our world.