Show You Care, Do your Share

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The Student Community makes up a significant percentage of the neighbourhoods in Cathays, Roath and Maindy. Given that there are so many of us, there are lots of things that we can do to have a positive impact on our environment, and make our time at university more eco-friendly.

Our environment – and our planet - is something that we increasingly need to be mindful of, and believe it or not, every little thing that we do can help. 

Why not take a look at some tips below on how to become a more sustainable student – and maybe even make some money on the way:



There is no denying that cars are an absolute saving grace, particularly in times of Welsh weather! With the ease of making short, yet frequent car trips to Lidl for the weekly food-shop, or to the city centre on pay day, I dread to imagine the cost of needlessly traveling short distances to not only my bank account, but to the environment too. Typically speaking, cars emit both Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide into the atmosphere, making them a significant contributor to the decline of our planet.

Here are some of the alternative, green commuting options available to all of us, to help create an eco-conscious Cardiff. 


  1. Walking 

One of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel is on foot. Not only does it help the environment, but it also saves money and helps to keep you fit. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day helps to reduce stress, improves your mood, increases endurance, and helps with sleep.  Walking can have a whole host of benefits to your physical and mental health, and so I like to get in at least 60 minutes of walking a day.  

Many of the university buildings, student accommodation, and student housing areas are within close proximity of the city centre – from my student house in Cathays it usually takes me about 25 minutes to walk into the centre and saves me having to pay for city centre parking!

If you’re not in a position to walk around Cardiff or the city centre, and/or it is not a suitable option given Welsh weather, there are other options available to you:  


  1. Public Transport 

Using public transport can help to reduce your carbon footprint. As a city centre, Cardiff has many bus routes and trainlines that can get you around the Cardiff area, as well as taking you further afield. A train from Cathays to Queen Street station takes about 5 minutes, and only costs you £2.50, or £1.65 if you have a railcard!

Instead of making your friends or family trek to Cardiff to collect you for the holidays, think about taking the train back home or booking a coach from Sophie Gardens or outside the SU.  If you’re staying local, have you thought about taking a bus to places that are just that little bit too far away to walk?

Public transport is often cheaper than running a car, can save you the hassle of finding a dreaded parking spot in Cathays, and can saves you the embarrassment of attempting to parallel park (speaking for a friend)…

Take a look at our website for money saving ideas and public transport options.   


  1. Cycling 


In addition to the above, cycling is a brilliant way of getting around the city. If you don’t have your own bike there are various schemes around Cardiff where you can hire a bike for as little, or as long, as you need.

Cycling is a great way to explore the city and surrounding areas, and it will help you keep fit without having to pay a gym membership!

The Ovo bikes are proven popular in the summer months for bike-rides through Bute Park or out towards Cardiff Bay.

Also, have you seen the Brompton Bike hire station round the corner from the SU? Borrow a bike for one day at a time!


Consumption and Packaging   

When buying food or products, I often think about:  

  • Is there unnecessary packaging?  
  • Where has the food come from?  
  • How far has it travelled?  
  • Is it ethically sourced? 


Ultimately, the greener option when buying produce is to buy local where you can.   

‘Local’ can sometimes mean ‘more expensive’, so I still shop around for the best deal before paying unnecessary prices. However, ‘local’ can also mean that the product was grown or farmed in the local area, avoiding the need to import the product from overseas.  

Additionally, take your own shopping bags and buy loose fruit and vegetables from your local greengrocer. Reusable shopping bags or tote bags are a trendy alternative to single use plastic bags. Single use plastic bags can be super harmful for the environment - they crowd landfill, take years to decompose, and are dangerous for both ocean life and wildlife. 

In addition to bringing your own bag, increasingly some supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose and Morrisons will allow you to bring your own lidded container when purchasing measurable items, which will help reduce unnecessary packaging and subsequent waste. 

You could also think about your energy and water consumption. Reducing your usage not only reduces the damage to the environment but can really help your finances. Some tips I use for reducing energy and water use are:


  • Switch plugs off when not in use.
  • Turn off appliances instead of leaving them on standby.
  • Wash your clothes at a lower temperature.
  • Use an airer to dry washed clothes instead of running a tumble dryer.
  • Turn off lights when leaving the room.
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine for full loads only.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Do not leave the water run whilst brushing teeth.




Cardiff Council operates a recycling scheme where residents are asked to separate their waste into general, garden, food, and recycling.   

This can be confusing as you get started and can often be time consuming, but by doing this it will help to reduce recyclable items being put into landfill.   

The Government has some guidance about what bins to use when which you can access on their website. Ultimately, try to remember:


  • To look out for the recycling symbol on your items.
  • To clean your rubbish before putting it in the green bin.
  • Green bins are taken more regularly than normal waste, so recycling gets the rubbish out your garden!


Increasingly, cities across the UK are using food waste caddies to dispose of compostable food waste. You can use food waste bins to dispose of any items that will decompose. This could include most tea bags, kitchen roll and all your mouldy veggies.

In Cardiff, the Council uses the food waste to generate compost which they use in the city centre gardens. This is a successful attempt to be sustainable.

Further to the above, by recycling properly and putting food waste in caddies, not only does it help to keep our city clean and green, but it may also protect you and your property from rodents, seagulls, and insects!   



Trash into Treasures   

Think about the bigger items that you might be looking to dispose of at the end of our tenancy; rather than throwing out that old coffee table or bookshelf, have a go at upcycling, what’s the worst that can happen? You can personalise pieces to your own taste and reimagine them as something that will be the envy of all your friends. Not only is upcycling sustainable and cost effective, but it could also even be the start of a new career (or side hustle)!  

You can upcycle almost anything – there really are no limits to what you can create.  Take a look at sites such as Pinterest, for tips, tricks and some upcycling inspiration!


Second Hand

About 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon) come from the fashion industry – particularly fast fashion and throw-away clothes.  

Whether you want to support a charity, be kinder to the environment or find a bargain, a charity shop is a great place to have a nosy around and shop sustainably, and Cardiff is absolutely boasting with them - there’s a wide range of charity shops on Crwys Road and Albany Road. The extra benefit of charity shops is that not only are they extremely affordable, but you’re giving back to charity and the environment!

Admittedly, it can take a bit of rummaging to find some gems but with a bit of time and patience, you can find some great bargains. Who can say no to a bargain, and one that will help the environment is even better! Vintage and second-hand clothes are amazing, and you can find some unique pieces at great prices too. 

Second-hand clothing websites are a personal favourite of mine as I love online shopping! If you don’t fancy wondering round the city looking for a bargain, have a look at some second-hand online selling platforms. My favourites are Vinted and Depop.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot (if you will) – in addition to the above, rather than throwing out items that you no longer want in your wardrobe, charity shops also provide a sustainable and ethical option for your disposal of your unwanted clothes, furniture, and other household items.

Alternatively, you can try selling any unwanted items online, on websites such as Vinted and Depop, Facebook Marketplace, or in pre-loved shops. It’s a great way of making a little extra money on the items that you no longer want.



Do Your Research   

Wales Online are running a ‘Wales Against Plastics’ campaign. They are aiming to raise awareness of the damage that plastics have done to the ecosystem, arrange cleaning campaigns across Wales and hold councils to account.   

Take a look at sites such as conserve-energy-future and Greenmatch to find more ways in which you can make changes and make a positive impact to the environment.  



Be part of the solution rather than the problem!

You may want to think about joining volunteer groups that clean the beaches, parks, and rivers. You could even organise your own clean-up of the local area which helps protect wildlife.   

If you are green fingered, you may want to consider starting a community garden. This will not only bring the community together, but you can literally enjoy the fruits of your own labour! Planting bee friendly plants even on a windowsill or a hanging basket is a lovely way of helping out. Planting trees is a great legacy for the future.  

The Wildlife Trust, Flat Holm society and Friends of Forest Farm offer a variety of volunteering options to name but a few.  


Final Thoughts… 

I’m no David Attenborough, but there are plenty of things that we as students can do to live more sustainably. Cathays is our community, and we should be proud of it.

Even on a larger scale, walking, recycling, and buying second hand are some of the sustainable habits I practice every day, and although they seem like only small changes, they are super easy to employ and ultimately contributes to protecting the planet.

This blog has been written by Chloe Gilbert from the Student Advice Team in the Students’ Union. If you would like further help and support with the issues raised in this blog, or any aspect of your student experience, please get in touch using the following links: 


Contact Student Advice  

+44 (0)2920 781410