When we talk about sustainability, and our own ability to live a “sustainable lifestyle”, often we focus on money as the most important factor. “I can’t afford to live sustainably as a student” is something I’ve heard, and previously believed myself. This idea feeds into the perceived exclusivity of being able to live sustainably: it’s a club for well off people who have it all together, eating acai bowls and sipping green smoothies. This doesn’t have to be the case. Obviously, money makes a lot of these things easier, but I’d argue that there’s something that can hold more value when pursuing sustainability - something that the notoriously “broke” student has in abundance: time. Students have a lot of time. So, alongside binge-watching Netflix and moping around hungover, let’s talk about how time could be the most valuable resource you have in pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle.
I’ll start with a bit of my story: two years ago, I arrived at the University of Edinburgh as a very keen fresher excited to start my adult life, move out and meet new people. This new, independent lifestyle meant that suddenly I was responsible for more choices than just what I ate or wore: now there was toilet paper, laundry detergent, energy suppliers and so much plastic packaging to contend with. By this point I was already boycotting fast fashion and had been a vegan for two years. My principle behind these choices was that each purchase I made was a vote for something and I should – where possible – be voting for whatever honours our planet and fellow humans most. Suddenly there were a load of new “votes” I was making and a load of responsibility that I hadn’t planned for.