A guide to greener student living
Written by Ellie Brown and Emma Eberhardt
Society in general is accustomed to a continuous supply of all types of food; and we often limit ourselves to a few well-known varieties. Most of these aren’t naturally available all year round in this country and are instead imported from all over the World. Take your oranges and bananas for example – not seasonal. And the aubergines and courgettes for your ratatouille – are also, most likely imported. In fact, more than 50% of the UK’s food is imported! Nevertheless if we truly want to move towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient society, food is a good place to start. Everyone consumes food, and every choice we make with regards to what we eat influences what is sold by suppliers and therefore grown by producers.
Everyone knows buying locally reduces environmental impact. This can seem virtually impossible in the midst of winter, as buying local and organic food appears more difficult when compared to peak growing season during spring and summer. However, according to lovebritishfood.co.uk, there is still a long list of food we can eat that is grown on home soil. This is especially true in Cornwall where we have a much longer growing season due to the warm micro-climate (caused by the Gulf Stream). At this time of year you can happily enjoy apples, pears, leeks, potatoes, cauliflower, and kale. Sadly, it is a fact that we so have to accept that we can’t completely eradicate our carbon footprint, we all fly, pollute and produce waste. However, questioning our actions and habits is really important for progress and a step towards greener living.
The health benefits of moving to more organic and local produce, both for the consumer and the environment are clear. Eating in season not only has a lower carbon dioxide production, but is often associated with organic production, which means not ingesting chemicals that can be harmful to the intended recipients. As well as also affecting our water quality and the general health of our ecosystem. Organic has also been shown to have a greater nutritional value. According to The Guardian, one portion is the equivalent to two non-organic portions of the same variety.
Moving on to green living, in recent news, the Government’s plan to ‘eliminate all avoidable plastic waste’ by 2043, highlights how it has to start with the consumers to make a difference – we can’t rely on the state to make things better, whether that be on cutting out unnecessary packaging or in general living a more greener and more sustainable lifestyle.
So what can you do as students?
On Penryn campus, we do our bit. Penryn Produce is a new cooperative on campus, which promotes organic food consumption. Every Wednesday, the society holds a stall on campus selling organic and local veg from Cusgarne Organics – a bio-dynamic farm based in Truro. Students can order their veg box for £6, with 7 different types of vegetables and your own reusable Penryn Produce bag, so no plastic! This new society shares its ethos with The Green Living society, which has been on campus for several years. The society works in the allotments of the Walled Garden, maintaining the site and growing their own veg. The aim of Green Living is to bring green minded people together to learn from each other’s skills and produce a lovely selection of vegetables, for free and for all to share!
This year, the society have high ambitions: turning the allotments into a homegrown well-being garden, with a seating area surrounded by flowers. Surrounded by edible plants… Our very own Garden of Eden, if you will. This is a space for other exciting projects students can work on, such as building a wormery to help reduce waste.
Both Penryn Produce and Green Living are accessible opportunities for students to decrease their carbon footprint, and learn how to live a more self-sustained lifestyle.