Recycle, reuse, and swap: How to live sustainably

22 Apr 2021
By Sarah R., Student at University of Edinburgh

Care about the environment but not sure what you can do to help? Here's a starter for 10. Well, actually four.

I study environmental sustainability at university, so I know all about the complex issues surrounding climate change (yep, that well-loved buzzword for all the climate sceptics out there).

Recycling is a really straightforward solution and doesn't have to be viewed as a chore.

I like to make environmentally-conscious decisions, but it's not always easy finding the time, especially as a student. 

One of the easiest and simplest ways to make a positive impact is to recycle. This is actually a core part of Unite Students' Home Charter, which outlines how we can all work together to create a world that everyone can thrive in.

So, how can you do your bit? Here are four top tips for making the most of your rubbish.

1) Find out how to recycle

Once you make it to the recycling point you may be thinking, why are there so many different bins?

Instead of panicking and dumping everything in one bin, read up on what to do with your different waste beforehand.

The recycling bins can fill up quickly in a shared flat. If you're struggling with space, flatten your empty milk bottles and pizza boxes – they can be recycled regardless of size and shape.

Rinse out your items before recycling them to avoid contamination and to make the recycling process as energy efficient as possible.

If you're unsure about any aspect of recycling, ask the Unite staff members in your property. They're always happy and at hand to help with any queries.

2) Reuse your glass containers

Is there a way you can make your bedroom homelier and more comforting after a hard day at university?

Can you find another use for those empty wine bottles? Why don't you turn them into LED fairy light jars or even a way of storing sweet treats?

3) Swap your stuff with friends

You know that jumper from last winter that you no longer wear? Maybe one of your friends would like it.

Are there any books or classic films your friends have that you can't find on Netflix? Try swapping with your friends instead of them going to waste.

4) Turn your leftovers into tasty meals

The UK produces seven million tonnes of food waste every year. Reduce yours by turning leftover food into delicious, quick and easy meals!

A good way of using up leftover vegetables is to turn them into tasty soups – perfect during the cold weather.

You can find loads of great tasty recipes for your leftovers at the Love Food Hate Waste website.

You can also put your leftover food into plastic food containers and pop them in the freezer for another night.

Enjoy doing your bit

Recycling doesn't have to be a chore and hopefully these tips can let you have fun while you make the environment cleaner!

Recycling is a really straightforward solution and doesn't have to be viewed as a chore.
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Sarah is studying MSc Environmental Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh.