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What you can do to be more sustainable

Here's some things you can do to live more sustainably.

From giving a little extra consideration to how you dispose of your waste, do your shopping or get around campus, to getting more involved and joining societies or initiatives across campus and the local area, every step you take towards being more sustainable is a positive one.

Back for 2023/24 - Student Switch Off is a campaign to support and encourage students to live sustainability, with a specific focus on saving energy and water, as well as recycling and reducing waste. Find out more about how you can get involved, take action and contribute towards sustainability as a student.

1. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Recycling and waste

2. Travel more sustainably

  • Live or work at Uni? Use the cycle pool to borrow bikes
  • Pick up a subsidised staff or student bus pass
  • Save up to 42% on purchasing a bike with our Cycletowork staff salary exchange scheme
  • Join our car club scheme to access reduced price parking and vehicles for occasional use

Sustainable travel

3. Shop more sustainably

There are many ways you can implement sustainable measures into your shopping routine; from bringing your own bags, to buying local or sustainably labelled products and purchasing items made from recycled materials, or reused goods from second hand stores.

  • Scoop is a student run co-operative providing organic, exploitation-free and local produce at affordable prices
  • Swap Shop is a Facebook page that allows members to post unwanted items that can be swapped/sold to other students.
  • Look out for our new scheme aimed at reducing food waste and saving you money
  • Staff members on Slack can join our #recycle-chat and #recycle-for-sale-or-wanted groups

4. Embrace Sustainability week 

  • Sustainability Week (formerly One Planet Week), runs once every year to enhance networking and exchange of ideas, engage students and staff with research, promote environmental action, raise awareness, and celebrate amongst our community.
  • Running from Monday 4 March to Friday 8 March 2024, you're invited to join us for a dedicated week of activities and events to raise awareness about environmental and social issues

Sustainability week

5. Reduce your carbon footprint while working from home

  • Reduce sending excessive emails and large attachments
  • Change your search engine to help plant trees
  • Switch off your work appliances after use
  • Install a SMART meter
  • Unplug your electronics
  • Switch to a sustainable energy provider

Working from home

6. Join the Green Impact Scheme

Green Impact is an environmental accreditation programme that recognises and rewards staff members’ sustainable actions at work. 

  • Students can get involved by working as a Green Impact Auditor and receive IEMA approved training. You'll visit participating departments and review the actions they have implemented.
  • We also have roles available as Green Impact Project Assistants, where can you take part in a day-long training course and then work with a staff Green Impact team over the course of the year.

Green impact

7. Get carbon literate

Get Carbon literate with our free training courses on Carbon Literacy open to both staff and students.

Training is in the form of 2 morning workshops plus some self-led learning using materials provided in advance of the course.

On completion of a final individual action plan you will receive Carbon Literacy accreditation from the Carbon Literacy Project. Register your interest here  and you will be sent more details of when the courses are running.

8. Do some citizen science

Interested in wildlife? Why not do your bit for citizen science and record your campus wildlife sightings? Be it ducks or ladybirds, plants or lichens, we want to know!

Not only will it help with wildlife conservation on campus, but it could also be used in local and national conservation research and policy-making! Submit your records at

9. Join a group or volunteer for charity

10. Join the Community of Teaching and Learning Practice

University of York staff with teaching responsibilities are welcome to join the Environmental Sustainability at York (ESAY) Community of Teaching and Learning Practice. The group exists to bring different perspectives and ideas for defining the way forward for environmental sustainability education at York. For more information or to express an interest, contact

Sustainability Conversations seminar series 2023

Sustainability Education Conversations is a seminar series organised by the Community of Learning and Teaching Practice in collaboration with the Department for Environment and Geography and the University of York Science Education Group. Each seminar takes place online, with invited experts speaking for 20 minutes followed by discussion space for attendees. The seminar series will take place throughout Semester 1 in 2023, starting on 11 October.

Register your interest