Another requested blog – this time on sustainable living in Manchester! Thanks to Helena who asked about this
Don’t forget, if you have anything at all you would like to know about Manchester, let me know and I will answer your questions! I really enjoy listening to you all and hearing what you have to say so please get in touch!
I think over the past few years or so, many people have begun taking an interest in how they can live sustainably and help to reduce their carbon footprint, and this is reflected in our consumption habits, such as what sorts of foods we eat, and our use of public transport. Fortunately, it is really easy to live an eco-friendly/sustainable life in Manchester, even when you’re on a budget as a student. Last year we were actually voted the world’s 14th most sustainable city, which is really quite an achievement!
One of the easiest ways to be sustainable in the UK is by reusing bags when you are shopping. In 2015, the UK Government introduced a ‘bag charge’, which means that you have to pay 5p for a plastic bag in supermarkets and some other shops. It is hoped that this will reduce demand for plastic bags, and therefore reduce the number of them going into landfill, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. As a result of this, many people use fabric tote bags or rucksacks to carry their shopping in. Additionally, shops sell ‘bags for life’, which cost around 15p and are super strong, durable plastic bags which you can re-use hundreds of times.
Another easy way to be sustainable is to use public transport, or walk. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really easy to walk about the city, due to its compact size, and most of our buses in the city are hybrid, meaning that they consume less energy than other buses.
The university itself also offers lots of ways for students to get involved in sustainability projects, and it’s worth checking out their website here. One event which is actually happening in the first few weeks of your time here is the Sustainability Challenge, which I will post more about in due course. It’s always really popular and a really good way to network with new students!
During day-to-day life on campus, it is really easy to be sustainable. There are recycling bins all around campus, and it becomes second nature to dispose of your Coca-Cola bottle in the ‘plastic bottle’ bin instead of the ‘general waste’ bin. During Welcome Week, you are likely to be given an ‘eco bottle’, which is a reusable plastic drinks bottle. Most staff and students try not to use disposable plastic bottles, due to the effect they have on the environment. There are water fountains everywhere around campus so it’s really easy to use a refillable bottle. Additionally, if you use a reusable travel mug (called a Hug Mug) for hot drinks, in many cafés on or near campus you get a discount on your order!
Although I’m not a vegan, I am fairly health conscious, and adhere to a vegetarian diet for most days of the week. One of my favourite places to eat is Eighth Day, on Oxford Road, just a 5 minute walk from campus. It is a co-operative shop which stocks everything, from vitamins and herbal supplements, to vegan skincare and raw chocolate. They also have a deli counter, where you can buy locally made vegetarian burritos and cakes to take out, and downstairs is a café serving homemade food all day. The menu changes daily, and they offer student discount! If I want to treat myself after a long morning of lectures, I always go here for lunch
- V Revolution in the Northern Quarter of the city, is a vegan restaurant which serves comfort food, such as grilled cheese and hot dogs. It is very cheap and a very popular place with meat eaters and vegans alike. My friend Laura, who is a vegan, swears by their chicken burger!
- Dough Pizza Kitchen – also in the Northern Quarter – is a pizzeria which offers vegan cheese and toppings on its pizzas for no extra charge. A little bit more expensive than some other pizza restaurants, but the quality is super good.
- Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen is on Wilmslow Road, in Withington, and is a two minute bus ride from Fallowfield , and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike. None of their dishes contain meat, or meat products, and also do not contain onions, garlic or leeks, so are also good for people adhering to Jain diets.
There aren’t that many bulk shops in Manchester – the few that do exist are quite far from the city centre and student areas, however on Wilmslow Road, near Whitworth Park is a global foods store called WORLDWIDE, which sells large bags of rice etc as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
There is also UNICORN GROCERY in nearby Chorlton, who offer huge packets of porridge oats for relatively cheap, and also offer a 15% discount to customers who want to buy whole boxes of fruit or veg.
THE BEST PARKS
Whilst Manchester does have some pretty good parks, such as Heaton Park, I would highly recommend getting out and about and exploring the local countryside! It is 30 minutes on the train to the Peak District, where you can spend a day cycling on the Monsal Trail on rented bikes, soaking up the sun and amazing scenery. Similarly, the world famous Lake District is an hour away on the train.
Closer to home are the National Trust sites of Dunham Massey and Lyme Park. The National Trust is a charity which owns beautiful old houses and castles, as well as protected areas of countryside, and their work really helps to conserve these quintessentially areas of the British Isles.
Of course, the things I’ve written here aren’t a comprehensive list of everything, and one of the great things about being an international student is that you’ve got so many years to explore and find your own ways of being sustainable in Manchester!
I shall blog again in a few days, with another request. In the meantime, have a fantastic rest of the week!