Universities are often hubs for problem solving, whether it’s students acting towards the greater good at the ground level or academics and researchers seeking to solve large scale problems.
With students and graduates looking to play their part in reaching net zero emissions by 2050, there are many actions you can take to make a positive impact. Here are five ways you can help fight climate change and build a sustainable future on campus and in your community.
Did you know Australia is the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world, after the United States? According to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, each Australian consumes 27 kilograms of new clothing per year and disposes of 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill per year on average.
You might have heard of the three ‘R’s of waste management “reduce, reuse and recycle.” But have you heard of the other four? You can repair, regift, recover and refuse. Essentially, it pays to be mindful of consumption. Before buying new, consider products made within the circular economy. The circular economy is a production model that focuses on sharing, reusing and repurposing products. If possible, try to mend and fix items before buying new. You’ll not only prolong the item’s lifetime, but you’ll save money too.
E-waste, or electronic and electrical waste, can cause serious environmental problems when disposed of incorrectly, as they often contain toxic chemicals including lead, mercury and arsenic, which pollute soil and water. To find out more about how to responsibly dispose of your e-waste, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has an online guide called How to recycle e-waste.
If you have devices that still work, consider trading them in rather than disposing of them. You can sell your second-hand devices online or if you’re looking to upgrade, enquire with your provider on their financial incentives for returning old devices.
Share study resources
Study groups can help to build interpersonal skills, improve mood and learning retention, increase your ability to think openly and help you develop new skills and habits, according to the Australian National Institute of Management and Commerce. It’s also a simple way of banding together with your peers to reduce waste and share resources.
Organise study sessions with your classmates or look to purchase study aids and resources second-hand. Many universities offer textbook exchange programs, such as online textbook exchanges, which encourage sustainable studying. Check university websites and resources to find a suitable textbook exchange for you.
Volunteer in your community
Volunteering has a range of social and health benefits, from expanding your global mindset to increasing your self-esteem and helping to relieve stress, but it’s also a great way to tackle climate change in your community.
From hosting a community clean-up on campus, to volunteering at a local community garden or signing up to an established not-for-profit such as NZ Landcare Trust or Landcare Australia, there are many ways you can volunteer to make a difference while simultaneously broadening your social network. To find out more about volunteering opportunities in your area, visit Volunteering Australia, or Volunteering New Zealand.
Become a climate advocate
If you’re looking to join a group of like-minded students, find out what clubs are available at your university. Research your school's sustainability projects and initiatives and seek out opportunities to share your voice and opinions. Groups such as the Australian Youth Climate Coalition or Generation Zero in New Zealand are a great way to share ideas and resources, like emission reports and risk assessments, with other students to collectively make a change.
You could even start your own group on campus to evaluate waste created by students and share your ideas on how to make sustainable change at your university.
Whether you’re a student or a graduate, there are many small ways you can act to make a difference and combat climate change.
How you can help
Want to learn more about how you can help combat climate change? Read more about the role accountants play in creating a sustainable future here.Read more
Environmental accounting utilises traditional accounting and finance principles to help calculate the impact business decisions will have on the environment.