Rice socks, de-icing locks: Tips for staying eco-friendly this winter


Environmental Fridays

Brianna Stanley

As I’m sure most UK students are aware, it’s been a particularly cold and snowy week. After shivering in my dorm, spending half an hour de-icing my car and being late to class due to frozen bike brakes, I decided to get savvy about this whole winter ordeal. Here are some tips I found for staying environmentally friendly whilst living the student life this winter.

Consistently cold like I am? A great way to stay toasty without turning up the thermostat is to make your own microwaveable heating pad out of just a pair of socks and some rice (which you probably have a lot of if you took on last week’s “Buying in Bulk” tips).

Bundle up! Seems intuitive but adding an extra clothing layer means you can lower the thermostat a couple of degrees, especially at night. If you’re looking for more warm clothes, check out your local thrift store or these eco-friendly clothing companies.

Don’t forget to bring a re-usable mug/thermos if you’re looking to get a warm drink on campus. If you brew your own beverages at home, check out these fair trade coffee and hot chocolate brands.

The biggest obstacle I come up against most mornings is transport. I personally find layering up and biking preferable to walking, since that’s less time spent being cold and miserable. Here are some tips for biking in the winter:

Let a little air out of your tires – this increases grip.

Don’t forget gloves! (Or do like I do and just grab some socks for your hands. You’ll be speeding by so fast that no one will question your fashion choices anyway… probably.)

Lower the seat. This creates a lower center of gravity that results in less wobble and placing your feet flat on the ground helps you balance.

Since salt and winter grime can take a toll on our bikes, utilize both ample WD-40 and Wildcat Wheels, a FREE bike repair and maintenance located on the first floor of Blazer Dining. In between visits, park your bike under the shelters to decrease damage.

Bike lock, car windshield or door lock frozen? Try this de-icing spray (made of only water and isopropyl alcohol) lowers the freezing point of water. In addition, carrying Vaseline can help insert a key and cure chapped lips, a two-for-one.

Another good transport option is to take the UK shuttles and buses. The routes can be viewed here and in real time using the Transloc App.

If you must drive, just be aware that it only takes 30 seconds to warm up an engine, so idling for crazy-long isn’t necessary. This also helps decrease fuel consumption, which spikes in lower temperatures.

These are just a few handy tips for surviving the icy months and being kind to mother nature (who, incidentally, is enduring a bit of a beating in our national parks at the moment and could use some kindness). If you have tips of your own, please comment!