As the minimalism and waste-free trend is rising in popularity, I have found so many ways to reduce waste in my life that also save money and time. Reducing the waste you produce is a great way to help the environment. And, the more you are mindful about minimizing your waste, the better able you are to devise more ways to cut down waste and to help others do so as well. Follow any and all of these 8 easy ways to reduce waste as a college student, and you will be on the road to living a more eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious life. 

1. Bring your own cup to the coffee shop

This is a super easy tip and one that I could not live without doing. My personal favorite reusable cup is an all-metallic 16 oz straw tumbler cup that I purchased from Amazon. I personally prefer this cup for iced and hot drinks because its insulation maintains the temperature for longer (added bonus: you won't have to worry about getting your entire outfit wet just by holding the cup in your hands because these cups don't sweat!). Just bring this cup into the coffee shop and kindly ask the barista if they can fill it up. Depending on where you get your morning Joe, this tip can come with a lot of perks as well. Most coffee shops offer a discount for bringing your own cup, which is a major plus. And, if you want to get more coffee throughout the day (I know I do), you already have a cup ready to go. As someone who drinks coffee most mornings, using my own cup saves an incredible amount of waste. Just a single person, alone, can save pounds and pounds of harmful plastic and straw trash each year just by using a reusable cup. 

2. Bring your own bags out shopping 

Bringing your own bags to the grocery store is a great waste-saving technique that many smart and eco-friendly shoppers do. Canvas totes are super inexpensive and a lot sturdier than the plastic or paper bags from the grocery store anyway! They can also be super cute and easily reusable as a simple tote bag. And, this waste-reducing shopping tactic does not have to be limited to just the grocery store, there are plenty of shopping places where you can bring your own tote bags as well, such as thrift stores, the mall, farmers markets, flea markets, and many more.

3. Use reusable storage bags

Think about how often you reach for a little plastic sandwich baggie, whether it’s for a snack on the go or just to store half of an onion in the fridge. It’s most likely all the time, thus creating a lot of unnecessary plastic waste. A simple solution to this wasteful habit is making a one-time purchase of reusable baggies. This way, you can throw a snack into a bag, toss the bag into the dishwasher after, then reuse whenever! Just making this simple swap will save tons of plastic waste and money as well.

4. Use a high-quality reusable water bottle

Drinking lots of water is absolutely vital to living your best, healthiest life. Rather than purchasing an overpriced plastic water bottle when you’re out, investing in a high-quality water bottle will save both plastic and money. I personally prefer an insulated water bottle, which always keeps my water cold and doesn’t sweat and get water all over my books or laptop either. One of these might seem like a lot of money to drop on a water bottle but trust me, it is absolutely worth it, and it will last you for a while. I have been using mine for over a year and take it everywhere with me.

5. Use reusable plates ONLY 

Paper plates may be quick and easy for that sandwich in your dorm, but in the long run it creates a lot of harmful waste (and also kills trees!). Helping the environment can be as quick, easy, and inexpensive as swapping out plastic and paper plates with reusable plates. Buying your own plates saves the earth, and you can get super creative with them, too!

6. Use reusable bamboo utensils for eating

Think about how many times you eat out or grab food and inadvertently grab a plastic fork to eat with. Overtime, that plastic waste really builds up, but this can be easily avoided by purchasing your own to-go utensils. Bamboo utensils are light and most come with a travel case and carabiner, making it super easy to bring them everywhere with you. And, they will look super cute in that smoothie bowl or salad for your snapchat story!

7. Use Reusable Straws for drinking

I’m sure you’re already aware of the harmful effects that straws have not only on non-degradable plastic waste, but marine animals as well. Purchasing your own reusable stainless steel straws for at home and on the go will be worth it for the environment and the turtles. These also look super picturesque in drinks!

8. Use Bees Wrap for saving food

This is one of the lesser known reusable techniques, but it comes in handy all the time. Instead of using plastic wrap to save every single half-cut vegetable or leftover pizza, swap it out with a fun and reusable plastic wrap alternative, such as Bees wrap. Bees Wrap is a beeswax-based, washable, and thin ‘wrap’ that can be used for anything from covering half an onion to wrapping a sandwich up to take on the go. This product is also a lot sturdier than plastic wrap, which is awesome for packing up messier food for on-the-go eating.

In the end, whatever you can do to help the environment no matter how big or small will make a difference. Implementing just one of these tips will save an unbelievable amount of plastic waste! And, even just being aware of your waste-creation, resource-usage, and the areas where you can cut back will do wonders for your carbon footprint. Earth is our home and will be our children’s home, so we should work towards doing everything we can to make it the best it can possibly be.