Living sustainably at university

Tackling sustainability issues in Australia is at the heart of Charles Sturt. Just take a walk around campus. Look up and you’ll catch sight of solar panels across the roofs of many buildings. In fact, there are more than 14,000 solar panels installed across the Charles Sturt campuses – roughly the size of three football fields – saving carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by 1,000 typical Australian households. But what about living sustainably while you’re studying at university? Can you make a difference? Of course you can. 

Sustainability at the heart of your study

Did you know that sustainability is integrated into all of our degrees?

One of the graduate learning outcomes, alongside being a global citizen and being aware of First Nations culture, is to reduce our impact on the planet. Charles Sturt wants all graduates – from dentists to engineers, podiatrists to historians – to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of what they do and be equipped to act as agents of positive change.

Here’s Charles Sturt’s Dr Jonathon Howard to explain.

“At Charles Sturt we think about what type of future citizens we are creating. Our students will be the leaders and influencers of tomorrow. They’ll play key roles in society. That’s why we have graduate learning outcomes.”  

“I can think of hundreds of sustainability issues – war, fire, flood, pandemic – that we’ve experienced recently which highlight our need to be geared towards creating a world worth living in for tomorrow. We’ll need leaders who can make good judgements about our future.

“So, not only will our students graduate with a degree, they will also leave the university with a set of skills ready to respond to the wider community’s needs and the uncertain future graduates face.” 

So, now you know your study is ‘green’, let’s get on to some living sustainably tips.

Waste and recycling

Let’s talk bins. Red bins for landfill, yellow bins for recycling. It pays to learn the details of what goes where because often, waste companies will dump the contents of a recycling bin if there are non-recyclable items in it. Make recycling a habit and it becomes second nature. You’ll be making a difference without even having to think about it!

And speaking of recycling, if you’re going to get a new laptop or desktop, let the uni know; they can refurbish your old one and pay it forward with their partnership with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Carpooling/cycling

When it comes to considering how to live more sustainably, taking a look at transport is a good place to start.

Cut down on emissions and wear and tear by carpooling with your mates when you need to go into town or want to explore further afield – you’ll save on petrol costs, too. Even better, for local trips, get a bike. The wind in your hair (well, under your helmet, of course), exercise and doing good for the planet? Yes, please.

Water bottle and KeepCup

Single use plastics are harmful.

According to the non-profit Plastic Ocean, around half of all the plastic produced globally each year – that’s around 190 million tonnes – is designed to be thrown away after just one use. That plastic must go somewhere and, sadly, much of it ends up in the ocean. Google ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and you’ll see what single use plastic really means.

So, we all need to play a part in saying no to single use plastic.

You can always stay hydrated while on campus. There are plenty of places to fill up your water bottles with cold, filtered water – and you don’t need to keep buying new bottles. KeepCups are also great for grabbing your morning coffee because you can wash and reuse. And reuse. And reuse. 

Get involved in green projects

Keep an eye out for green projects running on campus or in your local area.

There are plenty of regular tree-planting days (COVID-19 permitting) where you can help ramp up the native biodiversity on campus. And there are projects that get funding each year around things like water conservation, ecology and animals. You can get involved to do your bit – and they look great on your CV.

For example, there’s a project on the Bathurst campus to increase numbers of pollinator insects. It’s in partnership with Planting Seeds – a Sydney-based non-governmental organisation fostering environmental sustainability and biodiversity in the urban and peri-urban environment. The project aims to research, build and evaluate the impact of a low-water native garden for local pollinators.  

What’s more, if you have a great green idea for a sustainability project on campus, you can apply for a grant to make it happen. The Sustainability team is all ears!

Making sustainable choices

Living sustainably while studying at university is easy. So, ready to make a difference? Visit the Charles Sturt Sustainability page to find out more.

This article first appeared on insight.csu.edu.au and has been reproduced with permission.