The transition from home to dorm life can be tricky for several reasons. If you’re passionate about living sustainably and protecting the environment, finding ways to fit these interests into your new lifestyle can be challenging at first. But don’t worry—there are many ways that dorm and sustainable living can coincide. In no particular order, here are my top five sustainability must-haves for college students that you can invest in now.
1. Reusable water bottles
The idea of reusable water bottles has grown in popularity since late 2019 with the start of the Hydro Flask trend, and for good reason. Avoiding single-use water bottles helps reduce plastic waste and is much more cost-effective. With limitless reusable water bottle vendors and designs to choose from, you’re bound to find one that works perfectly for you. Take it a step further and personalize your bottle with your very own collection of colorful stickers that speak to your interests. Fill it up at any drinking fountain on campus and you’re good to go!
Related: A List of the Most Important Things to Bring to College
2. Shampoo and conditioner bars
When I first heard about shampoo and conditioner in the form of bars rather than bottled liquid, I was skeptical. But after doing a bit of research, I now understand the hype! The soap bar method eliminates unnecessary plastic packaging in favor of a more environmentally friendly alternative. The cost is about the same as bottled soap, and these bars can be found at most grocery stores, including Target.
Got any single-use plastic lying around? I definitely do! EcoBricks are the perfect way to put that plastic to use, and the process is simple. Start with a two-liter plastic container (something like an orange juice jug works great), then collect smaller, unrecyclable pieces of plastic inside of it. Make sure you pack it down as tight as possible until the container is full. You’ll end up with a sort of plastic brick (thus the name), which you can then decide to use for a project of your own or donate for someone else to put to good use. You can find more information on drop-off points near you with a quick web search.
Related: Top 5 Ways to Be Green and More Sustainable on Your Campus
4. Zero-waste products
Another great, easy way to be environmentally conscious in your everyday life as a college student is to carry zero-waste products with you wherever you go. Keep a metal straw in your backpack for an impromptu Frappuccino break mid-study. Consider stashing reusable bamboo utensils in your tote for when your friends want to grab something to eat before your next class. You could even bring along some sandwich-sized silicon bags to replace a one-time-use to-go box. All of these are easy switches and make a big difference!
5. Beeswax wrap
If you’re a broke, frugal college student, you’re no stranger to aluminum foil and plastic wrap to store every last bit of food possible to hold you over from one grocery trip to the next. Beeswax wrap is a great, reusable alternative to single-use wrap. And as an added bonus: They’re pretty! As beeswax wrap is growing in popularity, you have the pick of the litter as far as where you can get it from. One of my favorite companies for beeswax wrap is LilyBee Wrap. I recommend starting with their Lost Lid Set, which includes five beautifully designed wraps for any small storage and preservation purposes.
Related: Majors and Careers for Those Who Want to Help the Earth
Living in a dorm doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your environmentally conscious lifestyle. I hope these five secret weapons give you a starting place for your new model of sustainability. Remember, this is just the beginning! If you’re passionate about incorporating sustainability into your college experience, be sure to do your own research and find what works best for you.
Looking for a school that cares about the environment as much as you do? Check out these 10 Colleges That Went Green Before It Was Cool.