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For a student living alone, Ikea is definitely not the only possible destination to find affordable furniture. Flea markets, Freecycle-initiatives and thrift stores will often have exactly what you’re looking for.

Decoration

Freecycle initiatives

On Facebook you can easily find so-called ‘verniet’-groups (“verniet”: for free) for almost every city in Belgium. It can be used to actively look for the stuff you want, or to offer the things you no longer need. The concept is simple: everybody offers their stuff for free.

Flea markets

These can be found in almost every neighbourhood in Brussels and it’s easy to find cool stuff for a very cheap price. An oversight of all the flea markets in Brussels can be found on the website of Brocantes.

Close to the Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus, you can find ‘Spullenhulp/Les Petits Riens’, a second hand store involved in social economy. They offer jobs to help people gain experience to be able to re-enter the regular workforce.

Heating and lighting

Heating

  • Make sure the radiator is adjusted correctly.
  • Don’t open doors or windows to cool down your room during winter.
  • Ventilating the room should only be done when you are in the room, don’t leave windows open when you’re gone.

TIP Ventilate your room on a daily basis to prevent problems caused by moisture or condensation: 15 minutes after waking up and before going to bed is more than enough for a student room.

Electricity

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • When buying new household appliances, check the energy-efficiency labels.
  • Unplug electrical devices when you’re not using them.
    TIP You can use sockets with an on/off switch for this.
  • Regularly defrost your freezer: 4 cm of ice will double the amount of energy consumption.

Water

  • Minimize water consumption: don’t take too long when showering and don’t do the dishes under a running tap.
  • Report leaks and other defects as soon as possible to infradesk [at] vub [dot] ac [dot] be (Infradesk), or to your landlord when you are not staying in a VUB student room.

For more tips and challenges take a look at the Smergy website.

Clothing

Cotton

Cotton has a large but concealed ecological impact: its production requires an enormous amount of water and is responsible for about 25% of the worldwide use of pesticides. Also, the plantations where cotton is farmed have a very negative effect on biodiversity.

This is not only a burden on the environment, but also on the employees in the producing countries with precarious working conditions.

Second hand Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus

On the Facebook page ‘Second hand Campus Etterbeek ‘ you can buy and sell anything, but it is mainly used for clothing.

Swishing

Swishing is another way to update your wardrobe. It’s mostly known for organizing events for eco-fashionistas who want to trade their outfits for new ones.

On their website you can discover where the next Swishing event will take place, but obviously nothing stands in your way to organize one yourself.

Rank a brand

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the second hand market, we recommend you check the labels to make sure the product was produced in a sustainable way. On the ‘Rank a Brand’ website you can easily see what score your favorite brands have in terms of sustainability.

This way you can choose the brands that are really making an effort to create a more sustainable world and put pressure those that need some encouragement. All the labels related to sustainable clothing can be found here. Labels for cosmetics and care products can be found here.

Study material

During your studies you will be going through a lot of paper: articles, slides, notes,... The following tips can help you avoid wasting a lot of paper.

  • Here you can buy and sell second hand books that are used during lectures at VUB.
  • Ask your professors to allow you to turn in papers digitally.
  • Try to print only when really necessary, print on both sides with Ecofont and use the draft mode.
  • If you buy a printer, pick a modern model with lower ink-usage and use paper with a sustainability-label.
  • Use the ink-cartridges until they’re empty. A printer will show that the cartridge is empty based on the theoretical maximum number of prints instead of based on the actual content of the cartridge.