10 Affordable Ways to Decrease Your Waste at College

On my trip to Cambodia in 2019, I learned that many countries, including the United States, ship their trash to developing countries in exchange for compensation. When I saw the piles of trash at the end of the streets in the otherwise beautiful villages of Cambodia, I decided that I did not want to contribute to this problem. Going zero waste, as nice as it sounds, can be pricey and takes a lot of effort that most people are not willing to give. Going low waste, on the other hand, can be more affordable and the lifestyle can be much easier to adjust to! 

Here are 10 affordable ways to decrease the amount of waste you produce from your dorm room:

  1. Washable Eye-Makeup Removing Pads 

Cotton balls can only be used once, but washable eye make-up removing pads come with a small mesh laundry bag. These work really well and are easy to clean!

  1. Reusable Water Bottle 

I know you’ve heard it before, but a reusable water bottle is such a simple way to decrease your waste while you’re at school. Find a cute one that you love and you’ll never want to leave it behind when you leave your room! Plus, it saves money on the hot days when you’re out on the quad with your friends. 

  1. Utensil Set

Instead of using plastic utensils every time you get food from the ELC, you can bring your own utensil set. One option is to take a new or clean pencil case and put your own silverware inside of it. I like to have a little mesh bag to separate the dirty utensils from the clean ones. Another option is to buy a set of aluminum or bamboo utensils. 

  1. Reusable K-cups

This is my favorite way to reduce my waste and save money while on campus. As a huge coffee fanatic, I’m a constant Keurig user. The Keurig’s K-cups can’t be recycled, however, so they just end up in landfills. With reusable K-cups, you can buy your favorite ground coffee and save the grounds for a body exfoliator later! 

  1. Buy Toiletries in Bulk

Not only does buying larger containers of toiletries reduce your waste, but it also saves time and money when you don’t need to repeatedly buy products throughout the semester.

  1. Handkerchiefs (Yes, really) 

I know this one can be hard to get on board with, but this is a great option to reduce your waste. Also, they eliminate the need for a tissue box on your desk! Just throw them into your laundry basket after using them to reduce your waste during this allergy season. 

  1. Hand towel 

A hand towel can be great if you find yourself needing to just wipe your hands quickly throughout the day. I find that it’s especially helpful when I do my nighttime skin routine in my room and want to wipe the extra moisturizer off of my hands! 

  1. Menstrual Cup and Cloth Pads/Liners 

A zero waste period may seem daunting, dirty, or logistically difficult, but it’s a great way for women to cut back a large amount of waste every month. Every woman’s period is different, but there are many options of menstrual cups and cloth liners to choose from online. The cloth pads and liners can be washed with colored clothing. I could go on and on about how much I love my menstrual cup, but I’ll just say that you should definitely check these options out! 

  1. Shopping Bags 

Rather than using single-use plastic bags when you’re shopping, try to bring a reusable shopping bag with you. Baggu sells shopping bags that can be stored in a small pouch that can be carried in a purse. If you’re given plastic bags for your products, you can save them as trash bags for your trash can in your dorm!

  1. Wool Dryer Balls 

Wool dryer balls are an easy substitute for dryer sheets and keep your clothes static-free. They also last around 4 years. There are a wide range of options online for you to choose from, but Target sells affordable wool dryer balls if you’re looking to buy some in person! 

Hopefully this list gets you started on your journey to reducing your own waste and inspires you to find ways to be more sustainable in your everyday life!