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5 Easy Tips For a Sustainable Student Life

Date:06 April 2022
Get your groceries at the Vismarkt where everything is cheap, fresh and delicious!
Get your groceries at the Vismarkt where everything is cheap, fresh and delicious!

Moving to another city and living on your own (and probably in a student house) makes life a bit chaotic sometimes. Are you convinced that living a sustainable life is expensive and takes too much effort? Well, there are many others who think like you. I’m here to debunk this and give you easy, and even money saving, tips on how to live a sustainable student life here in Groningen!

1. Grocery shopping at the market

Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, there is a food market at the Vismarkt, just around the corner from the University Library and Academy Building. Everything you wish for can be bought here, from veggies to cheese and even exotic foods and Mediterranean goods! Buying groceries here has a lot of benefits for the environment, but also for yourself. This makes it a win-win situation! With buying your daily foods at the market, you support local businesses from the Northern Netherlands. Because it’s local, the market’s produce requires lower transport and refrigeration costs than those normally made by supermarkets. Did you know that imported food travels approximately 2,500 km to get to its final destination of your supermarket? Besides this, everything that is sold at the market usually has less packaging than food that’s travelled a great distance.

Enough positive aspects for the environment for now. Buying market groceries has benefits for our student budgets too. The fresh, varied foods from the market are relatively cheaper than prices at your nearby Albert Heijn or Jumbo. You’re able to buy the right amount of everything, preventing food and money waste. The market is also a nice place to meet fellow students and grab a snack from a stall together during your study break. One more tip: when you go at the end of the day (just before 5 p.m.), you can even get some big discounts on the leftovers! 

2. Too good to go

Did you know that ⅓ of all food is being wasted? The worldwide company Too Good to Go strives to a planet without food wasting and is active in our city of Groningen! In their app, you get the chance to buy food leftovers in boxes from participating restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets around the city. These boxes are filled with surprise foods that are about to expire, but that you can cook or freeze to prevent them from being wasted! With an average price of only five euros, you get big discounts as well. To prevent wasting the food you’ve brought yourself, share the boxes with roommates or friends. With a few easy clicks you can download the app, make an account and find the best deals. 

Still got leftovers after shopping at the Vismarkt or from your Too Good to Go box? Freeze your food and take advantage of this later!

3. Thrift shopping

It is commonly known that thrift shopping prevents the massive waste of energy and resources that is caused by the production of new clothes. But did you know that a new life can also be given to tableware, books, vehicles and more? If you’re tired of scrolling through Vinted, stroll around the city and walk into one of the many vintage stores. These stores all around Groningen have a wide range of clothing, art and even bikes (we are in the Netherlands after all). So if you’re still looking for furniture for your new room or could use a proper working bike, don’t hesitate and take a visit! I could definitely recommend GoudGoed Groningen or Mamamini for furniture or tableware, and Recessie for the best vintage clothes! Check out this list of all the best thrift stores in Groningen if you aren’t that familiar with them yet

4. Reusable alternatives 

As a student, it is hard not to use plastic too much. It seems like this material pops up everywhere. There are many alternatives for plastic grocery bags, bottles and even food containers. Use a canvas tote bag, a typical Dutch reusable bottle: a ‘Dopper’ and a small nylon bag for your fruits and veggies (only 30 cents at Albert Heijn!). To prevent using lots of UG coffee cups during your study sessions in the library, get yourself a reusable coffee cup. Bringing your own cup will also get you a small discount every time you buy a drink at the university cafeterias (and who doesn’t love a discount?). All of these alternatives are reusable and sustainable! Some of these items can be bought in our own UG I-shop, so take a look! With small efforts like these, you can make a big change. 

5. Eat vegetarian or vegan

Every year, the Dutch campaign ‘week zonder vlees’ promotes eating vegetarian. This campaign week took place a month ago, so now is the time to hold on to this. I’ve been eating vegetarian in my student life, and so far so good. I’m concerned about climate change and wanted to make an impact by changing small habits, such as changing my diet to a vegetarian one. Did you know that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Plus it also saves water. Here’s an interesting fact for you: a chicken breast takes over 735 litres of water to produce. Besides this, did you know that a meat-free diet leads to better health and could lower risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases? Don’t worry about missing out on protein or important vitamins. Meat substitutes contain plenty of these, just like natural products such as mushrooms and nuts. I, for example, also take vitamin B12 supplements on a daily basis, since this is only found in meat products. You need vitamin B12 for the production of red blood cells and proper functioning of the nervous system.

As you can see, there is a lot to explore about a vegetarian diet and this process is very fun. Try new recipes with your friends, get inspiration from your favourite restaurants and wander around the market to figure out what to cook next! 

These were some of my easy suggestions to help you live a more sustainable life as a student. Curious to learn more about sustainability or even contribute to making our university more sustainable? Check out our UG Green Office for activities, resources and fun sustainable suggestions . Which tips do you think are helpful and will make you change some of your daily habits? Do you have some tips of your own? Share them in the comments! 

About the author


Hee hoi, I am Maimoena, a Dutch student born and raised in… Groningen! Besides having a big passion for my Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies, I love doing sports (especially rowing) and cooking with my friends or housemates. When I have some spare time, I’m always out and about to explore new places and things! 


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