Student desk with a laptop, reusable waterbottle and a keep cup

Little steps to becoming an eco friendly student

Blog and interview by the lovely Kate Ryan, Work300 student.

As students, we all know how hard it is to try and live on a budget. It ain’t easy. It a little trickier too when you’re trying to live sustainably. It’s not a wonder that living sustainably and caring for the environment can be hard for students (and anyone – but let’s focus on student’s eh). It’s expensive and in some cases, unattainable. So, I’ve decided to compile a few helpful tips to make being an eco-warrior a little easier.

Living well and caring for the environment shouldn’t be hard or super expensive.

Reusable bottles are awesome.

We all know that single-use plastics are seriously evil!  Tip 1. Don’t even bother buying water in a plastic water bottle –  you can simply BYO. Plastic water bottles are usually thrown away after one single use. Unless you can access a return and earn, they’re actually quite expensive and really bad for the environment.

Having a reusable water bottle is a great alternative! A reusable water bottle is going to ensure that you always have a water vessel and that you’re saving a little money and you’re looking after the environment with every sip!

PS: If you’re at our Armidale campus, UNE has many water filters so that you can fill up your bottle if you run out.

Pack your own lunch.

Let’s face it. Eating out is glorious, and not having to stress about packing lunch makes it so much easier to wake up in the morning and just head off. However, eating out can eat away (pun intended) at your funds and there’s also a lot of waste that can accumulate when you eat out – especially if its take away!

If you are eating out you can always;

  • BYO cutlery
  • Ask for less packaging – do you need that plastic bag?

If you are eating out – you can ask if they use sustainable packaging – The Cafe at UNE does, basically, this means their packaging is compostable, so you can put it in the green bin when you’re done which equals less landfill and less nasty greenhouse gasses!

Put it in the bin!

It’s super important that you dispose of your rubbish appropriately. UNE has recently installed a new bin system which helps you to distinguish where to dispose of each kind of waste. There are four bins in total and each one is designed specifically to help the environment and prevent cross contamination.

  • Blue bins are for paper and cardboard
  • Yellow bins are for clean plastics
  • Green bins are for compostable items
  • Red bins are for general rubbish – if you don’t know which bin to put your items in, put it in the red bin!

Distinguish between the different kinds of waste makes it easier to control waste contamination and collection. So help your fellow students and staff on campus and work smarter not harder, when it comes to garbage.

Use your laptop.

I know as a student, that I much prefer to write my notes out in a notebook. However, I guess we should all think about the trees! If you have a laptop or an iPad, writing out your notes electronically can help reduce the amount of paper waste produced as well as avoid having to recycle paper.

It also means that you can organise your work better by having it all in one place, rather than in multiple notebooks.

Return and earn.

I’m not kidding when I tell you that the Return and Earn system is amazing when it comes to on-campus living. As students, we all know how many cans we can end up with after the weekend. Those cans and bottles can easily stack up.

SO, a really great alternative to throwing them away is to recycle them yourself – because extra money is extra money right? It’s also nice to know that you’re doing one little gesture to look after mother earth!

Use a tea towel.

As an on campus students, we all know how easy and convenient it is to grab a paper towel when washing up and to just throw it away afterwards. Unfortunately, it is not too convenient for the environment. Living sustainably is all about minimising waste where possible. Using a reusable cloth when washing up dishes is a great and affordable way to help minimise waste.

It doesn’t take very much to clean them, just chuck ‘em in with your other laundry, and you can just hang them on a hook in your room to let it dry after washing up.

Use eco-friendly cleaning products.

Using eco-friendly cleaning products is not necessarily that much more expensive than your regular cleaning products – in fact, if you keep an eye on the sales (I know you already do), you’ll often find them much cheaper!

A brand that I really love is Earth Choicethey usually stock it in all supermarkets. It is a brand that has sustainability at its core. Its products are great because they can be recycled after use and the chemicals aren’t as harsh on the environment as other cleaning products.

My key take away is, keep it simple.

Switch out little things, that don’t cost a bomb. Be smart with your choices – we only have one Earth, so as students, and beyond, we can make small changes that have a big impact on the environment around us.


UNE is doing lots of things to ensure we have a more sustainable campus.
Learn more with us and do your bit.