Mia Clement banner. Credits: Univ. of Oxford
Mia Clement banner. Credits: Univ. of Oxford

Student Spotlight: How to live sustainably in Oxford

Mia Clement is a second-year studying Geography at Christ Church and the current Media Director for the Oxford Climate Society. In Mia’s  Student Spotlight, she shares her tips on how to live sustainably in Oxford.

Make the change

Living in Oxford is a brilliant opportunity to find new sustainable foods, items, shops, practices and more. Everyone can practice sustainability in a different way and every change we make matters.

A simple switch can have a huge multiplier effect. Here are my tips to help you find ways and places to live more sustainably in Oxford.

How to reduce food waste

I found this to be the easiest for me as I had more control over where I could shop, cook and make than I did at home

  • Plan your meals ahead of time - Meal planning is not only great for reducing food waste, but can be really useful when deadlines are approaching and you suddenly realise that the only thing you have in the cupboard is cereal
  • Use food waste bins - Not all colleges will have these however it is a great way to start asking why they don’t
  • Do a weekly food shop - By doing a big weekly food shop it is easier to make sure we minimise waste, eat everything that has been hidden in the back of the fridge, and not have to throw away food we forgot was in there. This also helps cut down on excess spending, which as a student I love. Rather than small shops frequently, one large shop getting the specifics and being able to budget around this is a great way to save!

Tips on reducing plastic waste

All colleges give students access to recycling bins and you yourself can choose items that can help reduce your plastic consumption

  • Use a keep cup - disposable paper coffee cups don't often get recycled properly and end up in landfill. Reusable coffee cups can be used over and over, reducing waste and helping keep the environment cleaner and healthier. Some colleges sell these online or there’s lots in shops around the city like Oxfam close to the Bodleian as they have some cool designs.
  • Say no to plastic cutlery - Over three years of use, reusable utensils (not bowls) result in an estimated life-cycle reduction of 88% of greenhouse gasses, air pollutants and water consumption over the disposables. I got my cutlery from the Oxford Chef Shop.
  • Utilise local markets and shops - from the Covered Market to Gloucester Green Market, there is always a place to find fresh fruit and veg across Oxford. Locally-sourced items can have a lower carbon footprint and, in my opinion, have far more character.
  • Use canvas bags - Save your coins and avoid plastic carrier bags at checkout. That extra money saved  can add up and having a canvas bag handy is always useful to chuck any extra stuff you might need to take with you or for your friends to offload all their things to you!

Living more sustainably everyday 

  • Use Oxford public transport or cycle.
  • Be sure to turn off your electrical appliances, lights or chargers when you don't need them.

Societies and organisations   

There are multiple societies and organisations to be a part of while in Oxford! Each has its own great group of individuals you can join.

  • Oxford Climate Society - An Oxford-based society dedicated to developing informed climate leaders, thinkers, movers and shakers.
  • Oxford Waste Society - Waste Soc’s aim is to inspire interest and action towards tackling the physical waste our global population produces.
  • Student Switch Off - Student Switch Off is a sustainability campaign and competition run in the colleges at the University supporting students to save energy and water, as well as reuse and recycle.
  • Oxford Veg Soc - Oxford Vegan and Vegetarian Society is a welcoming social hub to connect, advocate for, and represent the vegan and vegetarian student community.
  • NUS Green Impact - Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice.
  • Oxford Friends of the Earth - a group of people working together to promote a healthy and sustainable environment.

Where to eat sustainably in Oxford

Veggie and vegan spots galore. These are a few of my favourite food hubs to have some delicious veggie and vegan grub! 

  • The Gardener’s Arms - Traditional watering hole with a fully vegetarian menu and a large grassy patio out back. Oxford's only 100% vegetarian and vegan pub.
  • Happy Friday Kitchen - a plant based comfort food restaurant inspired by the wealth of speciality vegan restaurants found in California.
  • Turl Street Kitchen - a restaurant in the heart of Oxford city centre with a strong community ethos offering a changing menu using local seasonal produce.
  • The Handle Bar Cafe - Central Oxford restaurant with locally sourced, food for everyone, focusing on sustainability and organic produce.

I hope this advice will prove handy for you all and you are able to make some small but impactful changes! We can all make a difference and be sure to explore Oxford for even more creative sustainable ideas.

You can follow Mia across her social media @climatemia, where you can keep up-to-date with her climate activism, promoting intersectional action, interests in graphic design, ecological art and writing.

If you would like to share your own experience of student life at Oxford, email [email protected]