UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


Everyday Tips

Below is a list of excellent tips to help you live more sustainably.

Main source (https://theminimalistvegan.com/live-a-more-sustainable-lifestyle/) as well as personal experience. 

  • Bring your own reusable Tupperware to take away food stands and restaurants. Hint: they tend to give you a bigger portion than their own containers.  
  • Have a reusable coffee cup for coffee shops – and keep it in your bag. Gets you discounts in some places (like UCL cafes too).  
  • Grow your own herbs – it adds to the house’s atmosphere and every little pot helps.  
  • Get a reusable bottle and fill up using UCL water fountains – remember to wash it!
  • Decline straws - If you really need to use a straw, consider getting a reusable one.  
  • Invest in a pressure cooker – reduces cooking time and energy.  
  • Bring your own bags (reusable) to shops.  
  • Don’t throw plastic bags away – use them for trash bags etc.
  • Get a water filter for your house – avoid buying bottled water (options available for sparkling water too). Water companies are plastic companies.  
  • Choose loose veg. and fruit over plastic packaged goods.  
  • Companies like ‘Oddbox’ deliver veg and fruit straight to your home, which would otherwise go to waste.
  • Reuse and repurpose jars and trays from groceries. Jars can be used to store food (including freezing foods), but they can also be used to store and sort non-edible goods too. Ice cream boxes and similar can be used for storage as well.  
  • Get a compost bin for your kitchen (some London boroughs have initiatives). They will also reduce the smell from your normal rubbish.
  • Go to events in your vicinity, avoid long distance travel for events such as:
    • Festivals
    • Concerts
    • Holidays
    • Work  
  • Attend eco-friendly events or classes. 
  • Secondhand clothing – the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters. Give old clothes a second chance.  
  • Invest in better quality garments which will last longer.  
  • Support ethical brands.
  • Repurpose old clothes (which cannot be donated to secondhand stores) as rags for cleaning.  
  • Learn basic sewing to repair small issues.
  • For the more skilled sewers, turn old clothes into new ones.


  • Cycle to work – secondhand bike is ideal. Beware of bike safety around London and UCL campus.
  • Take public transport instead of cars.
  • Take the stairs over elevator/escalators.
  • If buying a new car invest in electric or hybrid vehicles (fuel cells one day).

For people that change their residence often (mostly students), plan your journey to uni. See the following map from the Student’s Union for average pricing of different zones (UCL is in Bloomsbury – WC1) http://studentsunionucl.org/help-and-advice/housing-and-accommodation/finding-accommodation

Average London rent map

Good locations are:

  • Camden – NW1  
  • Archway – N19
  • Gospel Oak - NW5
  • Finsbury Park – N4  
  • Holloway - N7   
  • Arsenal – N5 

Long Distance  

  • Trains are the best way to travel in terms of sustainability. Prices however may be steep based on country. Best to plan journeys well in advance. Eurostar can be 30-50 £ one-way if planned well.
  • Buses are also an option and certain companies offer carbon offsetting although it might be best to use a certified company to offset carbon emission and not trust companies which rely on diesel.  
  • Avoid flying. If flying is unavoidable (need to go to a remote island), try to plan your stay to make maximum use of the flight. Do not fly for a weekend. If you need to fly, stay for longer. Combine work journey with a potential holiday etc.  
  • Carbon offsetting – where you require there are specific companies which do this better than the actual transport companies. Again, this should really be your last resort and avoiding the CO2 emissions in the first place is proffered.  
  • Follow the Departments and UCL’s various travel initiatives and policies
Housing and Bills


  • Use LED lights over other options as they are the most energy efficient.
  • Open your blinds to make most of the natural sunlight (London yay).
  • Turn off lights when not needed (e.g., leaving a room, if room is large and you are only using one section of it)


  • Put on extra layers of clothing instead of turning up the heating.  
  • Set a timer for the heating so you do not heat the house if no one is home (key times tend to be in the evenings for most households and sometimes mornings).  


  • If buying new equipment, make sure to get efficiency rated tech.  
  • Unplug things when not in use (or turn off from the plug)  
  • Turn off devices at night:
  1. WiFi router
  2. TVs
  3. Laptops and PCs
  4. Gaming consoles  
  5. Speakers  


  • Run one full washing machine load instead of multiple short, small loads.
  • Use the Eco mode on your washing machine.  
  • Shower over bath.
  • Time your showers (3-5 min). You can buy a special timer if you wish but one song is roughly 3 minutes making things easy to time if you listen to music in the shower.  
  • Use a drying rack or drying line instead of a dryer.


  • Put a no junk mail sign on your door – reduces the amount of waste from advertisement
  • Go paperless – opt to receive digital letters (e.g., bank, phone company, bills etc.)
  • Refuse receipts when paying – if needed ask for a digital copy (if available). Receipt paper has many additives making it extremely hard to recycle – some of the additives are considered to be potential carcinogens.  
  • Use digital notes options for note taking (bonus is you can back it up to the cloud, especially good for PhD).
  • Avoid printing out documents unless necessary.  
  • If necessary – print double sided.  
  • Collect scrap paper and use for rough work, shopping lists, paper for kids to paint on etc.
Home Working
  • Try to avoid working longer hours by removing distractions (social media, personal e-mails etc).
  • Locate your home office near a window to reduce use of artificial light. Keep curtains open during the day, fit LED (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs, switch off lights when you leave a room.
  • Wrap up warm to reduce the need for heating, use a knee blanket, exercise during the day.
  • Set your thermostat between 18 and 21 degrees, put foil behind radiators, close the curtains as soon as it gets dark to retain heat, draught proof doors and windows.
  • Unplug any unnecessary devices, switch off chargers unless the device needs charging.
  • Use more energy efficient computer equipment (e.g., laptop rather than desktop, energy efficient monitors) and set up power saving features (sleep mode, monitors off).
  • Videoconferencing can use a lot of energy. By blurring your background or using a stock image you can save energy and bandwidth.
  • Do not over-fill the kettle - only boil enough water for your drink.  Keep the kettle descaled too.
  • Cook in batches to save energy, use more efficient cooking methods (e.g. microwave oven or slow cooker).