Go green, live clean: even YOU can make a difference

Welcome, or welcome back, to Strathclyde! Life may seem fantastic as the new semester commences, but over here in this corner, everything isn’t so rosy – it’s depressing and we are talking green. Did you know the ocean is 26% more acidic than before the Industrial Revolution? In fact, according to National Geographic, there is an entire continent made from rubbish – plastic waste, floating in the Pacific Ocean – or as they refer to it “a soupy collection of marine debris,” allegedly consisting of Nike trainers, hockey gear and rubber ducks. Yikes. The truth is, our planet is in a terrible state, and although this bleak fact can be entirely overwhelming, don’t let it get you down. Each person can make a difference, especially at university, where chances are you are forming habits that will last a lifetime, until you cease to exist, or the Earth does, whatever comes first. So, start as you mean to go on…

You probably drink water, or coffee, or both. Don’t be the fool who brings a Costa cup or Strathmore plastic bottle into lectures every day. Think of the waste, you monster. Over six million trees are chopped annually so you can have your Pumpkin Latte each morning in a nice takeaway cup. That’s enough to power 54,000 homes a year. One Green Planet, an environmental agency, reported that a beautiful little albatross found dead on a Hawaiian beach had “a stomach full of 119 plastic bottle caps.” That is on you. Buy a flask or proper water bottle. Just not the Love Island ones, please.

Stop being lazy. If you live relatively close to campus, take public transport if you can, or even better, walk or cycle. Stop sneaking into the Colville building and taking the lift up the hill because it’s easier. All these little things add up and make a difference in the long run. Friends of the Earth Scotland, another organisation looking to get things greener, revealed that Hope Street is the most polluted in Scotland. That is five minutes away from our campus. If you can help by not adding to the congestion, then do it. That includes a growing trend amongst students: getting supermarket shopping delivered to campus in massive Tesco vans. Walk and do it yourself – with your own canvas bags! University can be stressful and hard and horrible, especially if you need to work too, but taking the time for a walk is always relaxing, and can help you reset yourself, and it means cutting down on pollution on a day to day basis. Oh and on nights out. Don’t be the guy that throws their kebab onto Sauchiehall Street. Littering is never cool, even if you’re drunk.

Finally, get involved. Fortunately, Strathclyde has loads of things going on if you want to rid your conscience further. Join The Green Team – a great way of volunteering and helping to make a difference. They organise campaigns and events, and are currently working on a range of projects at Strathclyde. The Student Switch Off is an energy-saving competition organised by the National Union of Students. Basically, various university accommodation throughout the UK turn off their lights and electrical plugs and the halls that save the most energy, win. We are also a Fairtrade Campus, and run ‘Student Eats’, a project aiming to help students cultivate their own organic fruit and veg, as well as ‘Uni-Cycle’, a scheme encouraging students to cycle around Glasgow. There’s plenty more on offer.

By Katie McEvinney