Going low waste or zero waste is difficult, but it’s even harder to live that environmentally friendly lifestyle when you live in dorms. Here are 10 tips for going low waste when you live in dorms!
1. Get a Compost
While tossing food waste into the garbage isn’t the worst thing in the world as it will eventually decompose, using a compost is so much better. Food as it rots releases methane into the atmosphere which is a contributor to climate change. To reduce your impact, try picking up a bin for food scraps and line it with some compostable bags. Most universities have a compost bin beside their dumpsters where you can toss your food scraps, but if your university doesn’t have this, try talking to your university’s maintenance staff to see if they can provide one or figure out where your city might have drop off for compost. Remember to take your compost out at least once a week or your food will rot and smell awful!
2. Shop At Bulk Food Stores
Shopping at regular food stores often results in a lot of plastic waste. To avoid this, try buying things that come in glass containers or taking your reusable containers to bulk food stores and filling them up there!
3. Make Your Own Toiletries
It can be hard to give up your favourite beauty routines just because all the necessary things come wrapped in plastic. However, if you can make your own, you can bypass the plastic! Try going to your local zero waste stores, bulk stores, or even a locally owned bath shop to see if they carry bulk shea butter, beeswax, and olive oil. These three ingredients are all you need to make lip balm, body lotion, and face moisturizer! Add baking soda or arrowroot flour to make deodorant and toss in essential oils for a scent. These are all usually available plastic free!
4. Wash Your Hair With Only Water
This tip might sound terrifying, but it can work! Yes, you might have a 2 week–3 month period where your scalp overproduces oil because it’s used to over-compensating for shampoo which strips your hair of its natural oils. But this can be eased by massaging your scalp and brushing your hair every day. Many people who use this method report less dandruff, healthier hair, and a less expensive beauty routine in the long run!
5. Go To A Zero Waste or Locally Owned Bath Shop
Most of the everyday stuff like shampoo, toothpaste, and conditioner come in plastic containers. However, there are so many places to pick up shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and natural toothpaste in glass jars. You might be surprised at where you can find them! Lush carries shampoo and conditioner bars, but a local business might carry locally made ones crafted from local ingredients. It doesn’t get better than that!
6. Dumpster Dive
Try scavenging your dumpsters at your university throughout the year to find cool clothes, kitchenware, appliances, or whatever anyone might be getting rid of. The best times to do this is during move-out when people are getting rid of stuff they can’t store or take home with them and a few weeks after move-in when people realize they brought too much for their tiny rooms.
7. Keep Your Dorm Decorations Zero-Waste
You don’t have to sacrifice having a cute dorm for the sake of the environment! Try decorating with plants, dried flowers, or hand made crafts made from things you’ve found lying around or from dumpster diving.
8. Go Thrifting
If you need anything from appliances to clothing, try hitting up your local thrift stores first! You might be surprised at the variety of stuff they carry and you’ll also be saving a lot of money.
9. Eat Less Meat
The livestock industry in North America causes a lot of environmental damage. If you don’t have to eat at the university cafeteria, consider incorporating more plant-based protein into your diet. Chickpeas, soybeans, tofu, and lentils are all good meat alternatives. Not only are they delicious and environmentally friendly, but they’re also often cheaper than meat! Try picking up dried chickpeas, lentils, or soybeans from your local bulk store!
10. Buy Local
Instead of looking for fancy and trendy low waste gear online, try finding fixes from items you have laying around or items that you can get locally. Shipping things overseas involves the use of fossil fuels and can result in more greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Try looking for locally made items crafted from local materials instead!