10 Zero-Waste Practices You May Not Have Thought Of Doing

10 Zero-Waste Practices You May Not Have Thought Of Doing

You've given up plastic straws, but where do you go from there?

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Sure, you know how easy it is to buy a reusable water bottle or coffee cup, and you always bring your own grocery bags to the store with you, but what about the less well-known parts of a zero-waste lifestyle? There are plenty of wasteful day-to-day habits that we don't even think about!

Here are a few simple starters to really feel like you're making an impact in reducing your waste.

Ditch your cotton balls!

If you're like me, you have a need for two or three cotton balls or cotton rounds every day. This is an incredible amount of waste produced by just one person in a month or in a year. There's an easy solution — washable cotton rounds! Not only will you save money on disposable cotton balls, but you can find these replacements in many types of fabric that come with a laundry bag and are easy to wash! Plus, they can serve as makeup wipes when paired with micellar water or other types of makeup remover — reducing your waste in that area as well!

Buy local soap and shampoo bars.

A nice bar of hand soap always looks nice in a dish by the sink, but you can step up the aesthetic by adding in a facial wash bar, shampoo bar, and even conditioner bar! Buy local, unpackaged soaps and check natural grocery stores or community farmers markets to find natural washes of all kinds! Not only will you be supporting local businesses and reducing your plastic consumption, but you'll also be treating your body with natural ingredients.

Find a compostable bamboo toothbrush.

This one's easy! Next time you go to buy a toothbrush, instead of buying a plastic stick packaged in plastic, reach for a bamboo toothbrush instead. At the end of its life, it can be composted and will decompose literally hundreds of years before a plastic toothbrush would. You can even get a subscription from companies like Giving Brush. Plus, check out brands like Bite for toothpaste tablets that come in refillable glass containers to cut out the plastic and nasty chemicals from your dental routines.

Grab a set of bamboo utensils.

When the drive-thru bag is void of any utensils, you won't have to dig through the glove-box for an old plastic fork, you'll be ready to dig in with your bamboo set! These literally come in handy all the time! Buying yogurt at Starbucks? Don't pick up one of their plastic spoons. Picnicking? Grab your light set of bamboo utensils so you don't have to drag along heavy silverware or waste plastic ones! Plus, you can find them relatively cheap, and the sets are well worth the lifespan of the product!

Switch to a menstrual cup or washable fabric pads.

A menstrual cup may not be the most comfortable idea for everyone, but switching from disposable tampons to a cup is a huge reduction in waste. They can be a bit of an investment initially, but can literally last you your whole menstruating life. Or, if you're not ready to take that leap yet, opt for reusable fabric pads. These can be easily washed, and are incredibly more sustainable than the massive amounts of plastic that goes into the production and packaging of disposable pads.

Buy - or make! - beeswax food wraps.

Stop struggling to stretch cling wrap over your dishes and switch to beeswax food wraps! These wraps can be found from companies such as Bee's Wrap, or you can easily make it at home with some wax and cloth scraps. Plus, check farmer's markets or community #ZeroWaste hashtags to see if you can buy it locally. They're easy to care for and are long-lasting, so they're a good product to start collecting.

Use a biodegradable glitter!

This one's a bit more abstract. Glitter is something that literally flies under the radar, so most people don't think about it. However, glitter is generally a PET plastic material, so it's actually contaminating the environment when it gets loose. This glitter from the Package Free Shop is plant-based, so it's biodegradable. All the more reason to sprinkle on that little sparkle!

Ditch deodorants in plastic containers.

There's no reason to be buying a stick of deodorant completely covered in plastic when the plastic-free alternative is easy and safe! Buy or make your own deodorant in glass jars or reused containers for a natural alternative to the stick deodorants that literally block your sweat glands to stop your underarms from smelling. There are many companies such as Schmidt's (they even refill your empty containers when you send them in) that will keep you smelling nice without adding to the linear economy of plastic production.

Swap your plastic razor for a metal one.

Many of us are in the habit of reaching for our plastic razors on a day-to-day basis (at least in the warmer weather when our legs are exposed to the world), but these razors have an incredibly short lifespan and end up abundantly present in landfills. The easiest alternative? A metal razor, that will last forever and works just as well, if not better, than a cheap plastic razor. The replacement blades are cheap and come packaged without any plastic.

Pick reusable cloth diapers over disposable ones.

Anyone who's been around babies knows that they go through a lot of diapers, which end up directly in landfills. What's more, diapers aren't even supposed to be tossed. It can take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose, and the fecal matter inside of them can contaminate groundwater and spread disease. The best option here is clearly to ask for cloth diapers at those baby showers and wash them between uses for an environmentally (and baby) friendly solution!

Every little bit counts. These everyday products might not seem like a lot, but you'll soon realize that many alternatives save you money in the end and are healthier than the plastic products and practices we're surrounded by. There are many creative low- or zero- waste people out there with tips, tricks, and products to use to avoid creating waste.

Follow hashtags on Instagram or subscribe to YouTubers who practice living zero-waste lifestyles. Do your part by supporting brands whose goals and methods you agree with and by switching to alternatives to the disposable stuff we use so much of today.

Keep learning, try your best, and hold yourself to your values.

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


ALSO SEE:

Uncensored Roommate Confessions!

Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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6 Small Ways To Live More Sustainably

Here are a few easy tips that will help you protect the beautiful planet we live on.

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Living sustainably has been a major focus of my life recently after finding out that it's not that hard for me to do my part. We live on a beautiful planet that contains the resources that help life as we know it to operate. We are dealing with problems that are caused by humans such as smog, trash in the oceans, and polluted waterways. While we can't fix pollution by ourselves, we can do our small part to help keep our planet clean and safe. So here are some easy, tangible tips that all of us can do to live more sustainably.

1. Recycle 

In elementary school, we all learned about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Recycling is one of the easiest things we can do because most colleges and communities already recycle and it just takes a conscious effort to differentiate your waste between trash and recycling.

If your community doesn't have an easy recycling process, you can still put in the extra effort of taking it to the local recycling plant or request curb side pickup. The reason we need to recycle is that trash in landfills can release both harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment so we are cutting down the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and allowing our goods to live longer lives.

2. Rely on your car less 

Motor vehicles account for most of the United States' carbon monoxide pollution according to the EPA. Some easy solutions to this problem would be to carpool more, drive a car or scooter that get's really good gas mileage, walk or bike to school or work, or use public transportation.

3. Use less water 

This is an incredibly easy change that you can make in your life that will help out the planet. Take quicker showers, turn the water off when you are washing your hands or brushing your teeth, and try not to take baths often. Not only will this limit your impact on the earth's already small amount of fresh water, but it will save you some money on your water and energy bills every month.

4. Buy quality goods 

Whether it be clothes, household items, or equipment for whatever your hobbies are, spending extra money on something that will last you a long time rather than wasting money on cheap stuff that you will end up throwing away after a few months will save you money in the long run and will help you reduce your trash output.

5. Repair your goods 

Extending the lifetime of your items has the same benefits as the prior point. You'll be saving money and you get the added benefit of an emotional connection to an item because you've fixed it and it's been in your life a long time. Whether you're patching up a hole in your coat or repairing the soles of your shoes, you're keeping that item alive and out of a landfill.

6. Get yourself a reusable water bottle 

This one is the easiest out of all of them. Single-use plastics are one of the worst environmental impacts humans are having on our oceans. In 2012 there was a reported 165 million tons of plastic in our oceans. While a lot of is does degrade after about a year, the degrading plastic releases harmful chemicals into the water and more plastic is going into the ocean every year. Marine animals are also being harmed by plastic in the oceans if they try to eat it or are caught in it. Reusable water bottles help cut down on plastic pollution. If you don't like the taste of your tap water, I'd recommend getting a water filter! Plus, you can cover your water bottle in stickers which makes it personal to you!

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