How to reduce waste in your apartment or dorm
Being a college student comes with enough worry about classes, jobs, clubs and sports – so worrying about the environment can be overwhelming.
Luckily, there are easy things you can do in your everyday life to be more green. Here are some low-stress ways to reduce waste in your apartment or dorm.
Reuse move-in boxes:
When you’re packing up to move into your new dorm or apartment, keep in mind that you’ll eventually have to do it all over again in a few months to move out.
Instead of buying cardboard boxes, you can go to your local grocery store and ask them to save boxes for you or just ask if they have any left over from recent shipments. The boxes will likely be free and you’re reusing the cardboard.
You can also buy reusable storage totes that you can keep for many years to pack. A few sturdy totes will last you through college and into adulthood.
You don’t need bubble wrap:
Instead of plastic bubble wrap, use thick sweaters, towels or even bedding to wrap breakable items when you move. You’re already bringing these items with you so you’re not wasting any space or plastic.
Think sustainably about room decor:
Remember that your living space is temporary. When you’re looking for decor or other gadgets for your room, think about whether or not you can responsibly get rid of it when you move out or if you can take it with you throughout the rest of your college years.
It is very likely that you will have a lot of stuff to throw out at the end of the school year, so start thinking sustainably at the start to reduce your waste.
Secondhand items are key:
At the end of the school year, most people are trying to resell furniture and appliances that they no longer need – i.e., mini-fridges, desks and chairs.
This is a great opportunity for you to save some money, get the necessities for your space and stay sustainable by reusing. Thrift stores and church yard sales are also great places to find used furniture.
Get a recycling bin AND a compost bin:
Most dorms provide residents with a recycling and a compost bin, but you should get your own if yours does not.
For recycling, you can even reuse a cardboard box or paper grocery bags, which make it easier to collect and carry to the recycling disposal. Collecting compost for your garden is good fertilizer for your soil and will improve plant growth. Composting also reduces what’s in the landfill.
Use a reusable water bottle and coffee cup:
Skip out on the 24-pack of plastic water bottles and get a reusable bottle that you can fill up yourself. This will save you money, reduce plastic waste and allow you to customize your bottle. Most places on campus have a water bottle refill station, which is convenient for when you’re away from home.
If you’re uncomfortable drinking from the tap in your dorm or apartment, get a Brita. The filters last for about three months. You can also save money on coffee by making your own and using your own cup. Some cafes even give discounts if you bring your own coffee cup.
Invest in real dishes and kitchenware
Paper plates and plastic cutlery are convenient because you don’t have to wash anything, but think about how much waste you are creating every time you eat.
Instead, invest in a set of plates, cups, bowls and utensils that you can wash and reuse over and over. You’ll also save money by not having to buy new kitchenware every time you run out.
Clean your space sustainably:
Use cleaning rags to wipe down your kitchen instead of paper towels. You can even make your own rags with old t-shirts or bath towels. You can also find all-purpose natural cleaning spray or make your own.
This is not a finite list of ways to reduce waste in your dorm or apartment, but it is a start. These tips will make your college years easier as you move around and learn more about what things you really need and what you can go without.