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9 Things Students Can Do to Help the Environment

written by Tim

Considering that we, students, are the ‘people of the future’, most of us want to help to prevent climate change by reducing our ecological footprint. However, there is this idea that it costs time, money and a lot of effort to be eco-friendly, which often withhold us - students with busy schedules and limited money - to invest in living a more eco-friendly life. Luckily, there are many changes students can make that barely take time and can actually save money.

Environmental facts you should know

To help you know how serious the environmental issues are today we gathered some facts for you.

  • By today, the earth's temperature has already increased with 1 degree Celsius compared to 1900. This does not seem much, but just a small increase in temperature will cause the Arctic to melt and increase the sea level. Also, many species of animals and plants will go extinct, like the coral reef and many more. The increase in temperature is not slowing down and will continue to rise in the future if we continue living as we have done (Change, 2018)

  • With the current rate of deforestation, the world's rainforest will be gone by 2100. (2100 No more rainforest)

  • According to CBS, the top 5 most pollutive industries in the Netherlands are waste, oil, electricity, animal agriculture and water transport. (CBS, 2017)

  • The Netherlands is the 5th country in the European Union with the highest Co2 emission per person (Tiseo, 2018).

  • Plastic waste kills an estimated 1.1 million marine animals per year (The Ocean Conference, 2017).

9 Simple ways a student can help the environment

1. Take notes electronically

With the world becoming more digital every day, your studies can become as well. By not taking notes on paper, you save money and stop wasting paper. Also, many books can be purchased online. An e-reader can be a helpful tool.

2. Adopt reusable shopping bags

No less than an average of 35 plastic bags a year are used by each person living

in the Netherlands. This is a decline of 80% compared to before the ban of free

plastic bags. However, still most of the plastic bags we use end up in the

oceans. Having a good quality reusable shopping bag can decline the use of plastic bags by 100%. Besides, it saves a lot of money in the long run. (Ester Hilhorst, 2020)

3. Get a reusable water bottle

With one of the best quality tap waters in the world, there is no need to buy

bottled water in the Netherlands. A single used water bottle cost 0.25 litre of

oil and 3 litres of water. Only 20% of the water bottles in the Netherlands get

recycled, the other 80% end up in landfill or waste burners. Purchasing a

quality bottle once, can save a lot of plastic waste and also your finances.

4. Get a “Nee-Nee” sticker

The average household receives 32 kilos of commercial papers a year. By using a

“Nee-Nee” sticker (No-No) companies are not allowed to deliver any un-addressed

commercial papers (the first No) or any house-to-house magazines (the second

No). In Rotterdam, you can get this sticker for free by applying for the sticker

at the city hall. Once they have sent the sticker to your home, you will only

have to stick it in your mailbox. (Milieucentraal)

5. Recycle

This one seems obvious, but it’s still relevant. Waste has one of the biggest

impacts on the environment. Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are

released from landfill and waste burners. Recycling reduces pollution

caused by waste. Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to recycle,

especially if you are living in a shared house. Talk to your housemates about

the importance of recycling and spreading awareness. Many street corners have

recycling bins, in which you can throw your recycling trash for free! In some

counties, they even pick it up for you at your door. If these are not available to you, recycling dumps are free and wildly available.

6. Shop at second-hand stores

A considerable amount of the textiles we do not wear anymore, end up in a landfill.

85% of these textiles come from the fashion industry. Second-hand stores

encourage reusing clothes that were once loved by someone. Besides, second-hand

stores are often more affordable than fashion stores, and by buying

second-hand in the local thrift store or boutique, you will support the local communities. (McFall-Johnsen, 2019)

7. Replace your light bulbs with LED

Although a LED-light might seem more expensive than a classic light bulb a single LED-light costs just a few euros more. However, more importantly, it will

save 90% of the electricity used compared to a classic light bulb. In just a couple of months, you have recouped the price of the LED light and you will simultaneously reduce your electricity use. (LED Lighting)

8. Eat more vegan food

Arguably, the best thing to do to help the environment is to go vegan. Animal agriculture is one of the most pollutive industries. To illustrate:

  • A recent report from the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individuals' carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. (Poore & Nemecek, 2018)

  • A vegan diet saves over 1300 litre of fresh water a day - that is the same as 21 showers (I bet you do not shower that much a day). (Nesvarova, 2019)

  • A plant-based diet uses approximately 20 times less land than it does to feed a meat-eater. This is because the land we use to grow crops for animals could be used to grow crops for

  • humans. To produce a kilogram of meat, almost 13 kilos of additional food needs to be produced. (Poore & Nemecek, 2018)

These are just a few of the many reasons why veganism is better for the environment.

To understand more about this topic, you can find a lot of information on the internet or just follow our blog for future blog posts.

9. Buy local and seasonal

Most of our non-seasonal foods have travelled across the world to get to your plate. This has a much bigger impact on our environment since energy is used for transportation refrigeration and storage. store. Also, more packaging is needed to keep the products fresh. The other way around, for seasonal food less energy needs to be used to keep the food fresh. Moreover, when buying local, you will support your local shop-owners as well... You won’t be lining the pockets

of big supermarkets that have profit as their core business, but you will

bolster the existence of local farmers that truly care about their

products. Altogether, buy your veggies from the local market: it is fresher and cheaper!

So there are many, cheap and easy things to change in your life to help the environment. A better world starts with yourself.


2100 No more rainforest. (sd). counts, The world.

CBS. (2017). Klimaat in Nederland.

Change, I. P. (2018). Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C.

Ester Hilhorst, J. d. (2020). Nederlander gebruikt 35 plastic tasjes per jaar. I&O Research.

(sd). LED Lighting.

McFall-Johnsen, M. (2019). The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Here are the biggest ways it impacts the planet. Business Insider.

Milieucentraal. (sd). Reclamedrukwerk.

Nesvarova, M. (2019). Every litre counts. utoday.

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). New estimates of the environmental cost of food. University of Oxford.

(2017). The Ocean Conference. United Nations.

Tiseo, I. (2018). Greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the European Union (EU-28) 2018, by country.

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