How can students living in shared accommodation reduce waste and recycle right?

To celebrate Global Recycling Day, we asked Guildford resident and biological science student Elaria Rich her thoughts on how students can recycle more and reduce waste whilst living in shared accommodation:

As students living in a whirlwind of assignments and socialising, how much do we think about recycling? When it comes to recycling, the key to unlocking a greener future for our planet can be found in disposing of waste correctly and being aware of the damage of ‘convenience’ products containing single-use plastics.

When first moving into shared accommodation, I often found that everyone was trying to be polite and not tread on anyone’s toes, even too polite to tell your flatmate to put their dirty pizza box in the correct bin (the rubbish bin, as the grease means these can’t be recycled!). You also don’t want to come across as slightly passive-aggressive by taking a recyclable item out of the rubbish bin and popping it into recycling. Despite this initial awkwardness, university halls and communal areas are a fantastic space for informative and visually stimulating reminders demonstrating the importance of recycling, which could boost individual motivation and generate greener attitudes amongst students. Surrey residents can search find out what to do with an item by using SEP’s search tool or downloading the Surrey Recycles app.

Reducing overall waste is also vital. When nipping to the supermarket for the weekly shop (not forgetting to take your reusable bag!), thinking consciously about what you’re buying and how much single-use plastic packaging you’ll have to throw away is also an important step. Each of us have the power to make these decisions, which could also include buying plastic-free products from local zero-waste shops.

However, some waste packaging often cannot be avoided. Before putting item in the rubbish or recycling bin, think about how the item could be repurposed for new use. For example, after that cheeky pick-me-up revision takeaway, you could wash and reuse the plastic tubs for your own homemade meal prep. Glass jars could be repurposed to contain dry foods, herbs, tea or coffee, or upcycled into little lanterns by being washed then decorated with glass paints making unique party decorations on a student-friendly budget!

Universities are filled with the next generation of innovative thinkers and leaders on the cusp of their careers. Therefore, it’s vital students carry this information of how to recycle more and waste less forward with them to enable them to make better decisions towards a more sustainable future.

So, can students really work towards a less wasteful, more sustainable future? The answer is yes – one reused jam jar or recycled beer bottle at a time!