Green guide: 15 tips for a more sustainable lifestyle

Sustainability can be a big and overwhelming topic. What can you do, to help create a more sustainable world? In our Green Guide, you will learn about 15 actions you can take to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainable lifestyle definition

A sustainable lifestyle is a way of living that strengthens your own health, supports the well-being of other people and protects the environment.

To live more sustainably, you:

  • Change your personal behaviours regarding your food, transportation, or energy choices;
  • Experiment with alternative solutions as part of your studies, work, or free-time activities;
  • And join collective actions to change the economic, political and cultural systems we live in.

Benefits

While it might be difficult at first, a sustainable lifestyle brings you the following benefits:

  • Improved health, since you will eat less toxic chemicals as part of your food;
  • Stronger purpose in life, since you will have a societal cause to be passionate about;
  • Better fitness, since you will cycle and walk more;
  • Better social connections, since you will connect more with people who share your passions;
  • Better conscience, since you will be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

Explore the three areas of a sustainable lifestyle

Sustainable lifestyle actions in your city or country

Below you find five actions that you can take in your city or country.

1. Take political action

Personal behaviour change alone isn’t enough to create a more sustainable world. Get politically active as well! For example, you could:

2. Walk, cycle, and take public transport

Driving by car or plane can be very convenient. However, the burning of gasoline pollutes the air and emits CO2. Consider some of the following actions for a more sustainable lifestyle:

  • Get a second-hand bike,
  • Walk or run,
  • Get a monthly public transport card,
  • Share a ride or hitchhike,
  • Take the train or overland busses instead of the plane.

Walking or cycling improves your fitness and health. Sharing a ride or hitch-hiking allows you to connect with strangers. Taking the train or bus to get somewhere might take longer, but can be a great way to see the countryside, slow down, read a book, and connect with friends on the journey.

3. Bring your own bag, refillable bottle, and cup

Plastics are a marvellous invention of the industrial revolution. At the same time, they are a curse for the environment.

  • Get a reusable coffee cup to avoid having to buy single-use cups,
  • Bring your own bag to shops to reduce the usage of plastic bags,
  • Try to avoid buying fruits or vegetables wrapped in plastics,
  • And use a refillable water bottle to avoid having to buy plastic bottles.

4. Share on social media

You’re probably active on multiple social media channels and have a wide social network.

  • Share the posts of pages related to sustainability issues,
  • Or get active on social media groups related to sustainability.

5. Find sustainable shops

A first action you could take is to find sustainable shops in your city. Look out for:

  • Second hand-stores,
  • Vegetarian or vegan restaurants,
  • Plastic-free supermarkets,
  • Repair cafes,
  • Organic supermarkets,
  • And local farmers markets.

Once you have found these shops, you could try to buy from them more regularly.

A sustainable student lifestyle includes political action

A sustainable lifestyle includes political action

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Sustainable lifestyle at your university or college

Learn about five actions you can take at your university or college:

6. Find out what your university or college does on sustainability

As a first step, you could find out what your university or college does on sustainability.

  • Search for a sustainability section on your university’s website,
  • Ask your classmates or teachers,
  • And get in touch with the sustainability coordinator or team.

This helps you to be informed and to join initiatives you might like.

7. Organise a sustainability event, project or campaign

Once you know what your university or college does on sustainability, you could get your friends and classmates together to:

In this way, you could learn how to organise a practical project and get to know new people.

8. Write a sustainability-focused paper

Write a paper or do a course project on a sustainability issue. Get inspired by one of our 80 sustainability research topics for students to explore green campus issues.

9. Use resources responsibly

You can take many small sustainable lifestyle actions to save resources every day:

  • Switch off the lights and turn down the heating when you’re the last one to leave,
  • Recycle your paper and other waste in the appropriate bins – given that your institution has a good recycling system,
  • Only order as much food as you can eat,
  • Help to clean-up trash on campus,
  • And participate in swap shop events to exchange books or clothing.

You could also take these actions at home.

10. Join a sustainability student group

Ask your friends or teachers if your university, college or campus has a sustainability student group. Join them as a volunteer.

If your institution doesn’t have a sustainability student group yet, then establish one.

Sustainable students help to collect trash on campus

A sustainable lifestyle involves collecting trash

Start a green office to encourage a sustainable lifestyle

Sustainable lifestyle actions at home

11. Adopt a low-carbon diet

Take the following sustainable lifestyle actions to improve the positive impact of your diet on the environment and animal well-being:

  • Avoid air-freighted foods;
  • Eat more organic and fair-trade certified foods;
  • Only buy what you need and make use of leftovers;
  • Buy locally produced food as much as possible;
  • And try to eat less meat, dairy and eggs.

Check out our blogpost on sustainable food to learn more.

12. Get a renewable energy provider

How much fossil fuel is produced to generate your electricity and warmth? Change to a renewable energy provider to:

  • A provider that produces electricity from water, sun or wind power;
  • And generates heat energy from biomass.

Switching to a renewable energy provider can be an easy way to reduce your CO2 emissions and support the energy transition.

13. Recycle and compost

You can help to promote a circular economy through the following actions:

  • Get to know the recycling system in your neighbourhood or city;
  • Order recycling bins for your student home;
  • Put paper, clean plastic, cans, tins and cardboard in mixed recycling bins;
  • If recyclable materials have food stains, clean them first or put them in the general waste;
  • Buy minimally packaged goods;
  • And get a worm composter to turn food scraps into fertile soil.

Check out our blogpost on recycling to learn how to promote recycling at your university.

14. Get an account from a responsible bank

Sign-up for a bank account from a green or responsible bank. Those include banks that only invest their savings in social businesses, community projects, or renewable energy.

15. Educate yourself

Knowledge is power.

Adopting a sustainable lifestyle is a process. Enjoy the journey!

Start a green office to encourage a sustainable lifestyle

Photos by student-led Green Offices at Groningen University, Utrecht University and Hogeschool Utrecht.