Low-Waste Living For College Students: 7 Helpful Tips | the ReFab Diaries

Waste can be a big issue for everyone, including students going to college. In fact, many students tend to forget about waste, since they're focused on studying, getting good grades, and enjoying their college experience.


So, what does it take to live a low-waste lifestyle as a college student? In this quick guide, we will share 7 helpful tips on reducing and reusing as you embark in your college career.



1. Use your bike

While most cars continue to run on fossil fuels, they will continue to contribute to our emissions problem, as well as air pollution. And while public transit is a better way to get to and from school, it's still not the cleanest travel option.

So why not ride your bike? Many cities have already created bike lanes to better accommodate people commuting via bike. Biking also comes with the following benefits:

  • Saving money on gas

  • More space for commuting, AND

  • Getting plenty of exercise

2. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

Now, this one is a no-brainer! So much of what we throw out can be repurposed through recycling. For example:

  • Paper

  • Plastic

  • Cardboard

  • Aluminum, etc.

Just keep in mind: you’ll need to read up on what materials specifically can be recycled, and which materials can’t in your area.


3. Use Reusable water bottles

Whether you buy bottled water is up to you. However, those flimsy plastic bottles are more likely to end up in landfills when thrown away. Even worse, they're clogging up water systems all over the world.

So, why not opt for a reusable water bottle. Not only will you reduce the number of water bottles that go into the landfill, but it will also save you money.

4. Use what you already have

It’s easy to throw away something that’s “almost” finished. But why not use the whole thing before actually tossing it?

If you have saved plastic shopping bags, for example, you can use them as waste bin liners. Or, if you have glass containers left over from sauces or other food products, you can simply wash them out and make them into reusable containers to store pantry items.



5. Practice Mindful Shopping

The next time you go shopping, have a plan and buy only what you need. Here's the mindset you want to adopt:

  • First, confidently buy the things that you really need. Then, be thoughtful about the "wants". Are any of them actually needs? If not, walk away for a while and see if you're still tempted. It's not uncommon to buy the “wants,” only to have them sitting in your dorm taking up space.

  • Second, buy only the amount that you need. Don’t overbuy, unless you truly have a plan for the excess.

By adopting this mindset, you’ll start to see that you won’t be missing much if you only get what you need. Plus, it’s not like stores will stop existing.


6. Go Green On School Supplies

There’s nothing wrong with reusing your school supplies. Rather than spend money on more school supplies, you can use what’s left over from your previous semester in college. You can even opt for digital alternatives like smartphone apps in place of sticky pads for notetaking. Or, you can opt for e-books instead of physical books. 

Speaking of books, can’t find a copy of the textbook you need for class? No problem! Opt for renting books from your local bookshop. Or, visit your local library and borrow books. And, the good news is, there are many book outlets (physical and online) that sell and rent used books – that’s another win for you!


7. No plastic bags. EVER.

Finally, plastic bags should be avoided at all costs. When shopping, come with a reusable tote bag to carry your groceries in. Reusable tote bags can be washed and reused at any time you want. And don’t worry; grocers will understand if you say no to plastic bags.


Ultimately, there are many ways to reduce and reuse waste during your college days. With these 7 helpful tips, you’ll be able to:

  • Reduce how much you use

  • Learn to buy only what you truly need

  • Save money, AND…

…more importantly – help make the world greener!

Emily Henry is a writer at Academized. She is also a freelance writer for various online publications and blogs. As a content writer, she writes article about student life, green living, and DIY projects.

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