For whatever reason, one day I was inspired to count how much I threw away. At the end of the day, I realized that I throw away about 600 straws, 800 napkins, and 400 pieces of plastic away each year. Maybe I was shadowed by the idea that when I threw them in the trash can, I never saw my waste again so I subconsciously assumed it disappeared, but this figure really scared me. From that day forward, I decided to commit to reducing my waste as much as possible. College campuses have always been known for being change pushers and advocates for sustainability; yet, it seems there is an overflowing trashcan outside every hall. There are so many simple possibilities to lower the amount YOU put in the trash can each day.
1. Reusable Starbucks cups.
After purchasing your reusable cup, Starbucks will give you a small discount each time you bring it in! It does not have to be a Starbucks cup, so I also highly recommend buying it at a store or local market.
2. STOP USING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES.
I am screaming at you because this is the easiest and one of the most significant changes you can make. Water bottles create such unnecessary waste especially when most college campuses now have water bottle fountains. Head over to Redbubble to get some cute new stickers for your bottle and drink up!
3. Use Tupperware.
You would be surprised how many places on campus allow you to put your order in your own Tupperware. Plus, you may be able to get a little extra at the dining hall.
4. Reusable straws
This one is my personal favorite to share because they are so cheap and make a great gift. I got them for my whole family and they have such a fun time bringing them out to eat. Straws seem like a minor problem, but when you really think about how often you use one, it really is stunning.
5. Take notes on your laptop, iPad, or recycled notebook.
I was hesitant to include this one because the energy it uses to charge, use, and maintain such electronics seems backward to include when trying to go waste-free, but I decided to introduce the idea to anyone who already has these products and can get another use out of them! If you do not already have these products, fear not! A recycled notebook may be your new best friend and you can support a small business by buying one.
6. Have the coolest waste free caddy on your floor.
If you look at all the products you use in your normal hygiene routine, you'll probably be surrounded by non-recyclable plastic, but there are plenty of new products on the market that don't use an ounce of plastic. The first one is a shampoo bar, and it is exactly what you'd think it is. Shampoo...without the bottle! Most reviews say it works just the same as liquid shampoo (maybe even better) and it lasts a very long time. Plus, most of them have ingredients you can pronounce for a change. Face wash, body wash, and shaving cream also come in bar form. Another fun way to lower your waste footprint in the bathroom is stainless steel razors.
7. Master the art of saying no to free handouts.
I know, it's so hard! But, most of the time we end up throwing away our stress balls and never using the thermal pencils we get, so instead, just say no thank you and use what you already have.
As always, keep on recycling and taking shorter showers as you've always been taught, but try and incorporate some new sustainability hacks into your daily lifestyle! It is small steps like these that make our planet a little bit healthier.