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National Student Money Week: Why we focussed on sustainable spending?

As the world heals after the past two years, people are facing unique challenges with their personal finances and the changes to our climate have also not gone unnoticed.  That is why so many students are looking to find creative ways of making their money stretch further, while doing their bit to protect our climate and its ecosystems.

We at the SU were pleased to join the National Students’ Money Week initiative by NASMA at the end of February, and put on a series of exciting activities for students including both online and on campus activities.

The theme of this year’s National Students’ Money Week was ‘Sustainable Spending’.  We aimed to facilitate discussions and help students come up with creative ideas and practical solutions to achieve their goals towards a sustainable way of living.

A National Student Money Survey of about 2000 students last year found that students' money is stretching less further than ever, with 5 universities in the top 10 for total spending based in London.

Rent, groceries and going out makes up for a big chunk of spending, and that means students are having to tighten their belts on some of the most essential areas of expenditure.

At the same time, students are becoming more conscious of the world around them and the impact their spending habits are having on climate.  According to not-for-profit consultancy Ethical Consumer, the ethical products and services sector has grown by more than £40bn since 2008, and with the highest inflation hitting UK households for thirty years, this is a unique opportunity for students to have their say in how we live our lives in a way that benefits the our wider communities and the planet but also make the most of our financial resources.

Global Strategy

With 90% of students surveyed in January 2022 by Students Organising for Sustainability, following the COP26 summit, there is a real drive for change within the student community and we can harness this by bringing together tomorrow’s leaders who are passionate about the futures of our planet as well as the lives of students.

What does sustainable spending mean to you?

Sustainability is buzzword that can mean different things to many people.  Beyond any tokenistic gestures, sustainability has real value in terms of the difference it can make in the life of a university student.  Do you care about the wider environment impact of your lifestyle habits?  Do you also want to economise whilst ensuring that your money does not fund corporations that show little regard for the welfare of the environment and animals?  Perhaps you are ambitious about the global carbon footprint and want to help your university lower its carbon footprint? 

The drive for sustainable living goes beyond cultures and nations.  The idea and its benefits to individuals and communities is globally embedded, with students recognising how much difference they could make together,  with even the smallest of actions driven by a clear purpose.  Listen to this short interview by a student from the University of Texas at Austin

Start locally and grow globally:

Looking at the news stories, and even your own budget, you may be feeling unsure as to what difference you can make to change your world, make impact on your student community and beyond.  We can start with small but meaningful steps.  One action we could take starting now is to grow our own food, even on your balcony or window sills. All you would need is some water, sunlight, soil, seeds and a bit of love and care.

You can share your tips and be inspired from your university societies or online communities such as the Mayor of London’s community forum

We at the SU are actively working to help you achieve your goals, from drawing up a sustainable budget to investing in environmentally friendly products.  Take a look at the opportunities you can tap into!