Lifestyle

How I'm Starting A Zero-Waste Lifestyle As A College Dormer

These simple practices, when done consistently, end up being worth a lot.
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One of the things I’ve noticed about my living habits as a dormer is the alarming amount of waste I produce. My roommates and I can’t go more than four days without our waste bin overflowing with papers, disposable cups, product packaging, and so on. With the new semester just around the corner, I thought it might be a great time to start rethinking my dorm lifestyle in terms of reducing my personal waste, and so I listed down personal tips to get me started on my eco-mission:

Be realistic.

First of all, it’s important to remember that you can’t go zero-waste in a snap. As a college student who’s always in a rush and on a budget, I know that the change involved isn’t always affordable, accessible, or convenient. And even for many who practice the lifestyle, “zero-waste” doesn’t always mean totally ZERO, and that’s okay. Start small, list down the activities you do that produce the most waste, and work from there. Do a lot of shopping? Use one of your totes as a reusable shopping bag. Take a lot of school notes? See if you have old notebooks you can reuse or try exploring digital options if they work for you. Assess your resources and know that you don’t need to make drastic changes right away.

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Save up for zero-waste swaps (that you actually need).

With the whole eco-consciousness movement on the rise, it’s easy to find shops that sell sustainable alternatives for your day-to-day items. From toiletries like bamboo toothbrushes and bar soaps, to school supplies like plantable pencils, the possibilities are endless.

But let’s face it, swapping your stuff all at once might get pricey, and you don’t always need all of them. When buying these zero-waste alternatives, it’s important to consider: Will this be something I’ll regularly use? Do I already have a similar item lying around than I can use instead? When moving into your dorm, bring as many reusable things as you can from home like a tumbler, lunchbox, and utensils, so that you won’t have to get brand new ones (no matter how cute they look online).

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Try to be consistent.

One of my personal challenges with maintaining a zero-waste lifestyle is sticking to a habit. I always end up leaving my metal straw and shopping bag home thinking that I won’t need it (until a friend invites me on a sudden coffee date or I end up needing to do a quick grocery run). As a college student, we’ve always got a lot on our plates, so it may help to set personal goals ahead and find a self-reminder system that works for you. Whether it’s putting your reusable tote near your toiletry rack so you’ll always remember to bring it, or sticking a giant “Don’t forget your tumbler” sign on your corkboard, these simple practices, when done consistently, end up being worth a lot.

Trade-offs.

Going back to the idea of being realistic, I know that there are a lot of zero-waste practices I won’t be able to do routinely, like buying unpackaged food, composting all my food waste, or going paperless. As a college dormer, my instinct’s first considerations always end up being convenience and affordability. But someone recently introduced to me the concept of “trade-offs.” If you can’t do one thing, make up for it by doing something else. If you have a class that requires you to print all your readings physically, switch to full-on digital notes with two other classes that allow it. If you ended up with too much waste from all your fast food deliveries over the weekend, spend the next week getting food from the school caf where they have reusable plates and utensils. It’s all about the little things, like donating your old clothes instead of throwing them away or asking the cashier not to put the school supplies you bought in a plastic.

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Many college students have started to subscribe to a zero-waste lifestyle, and some have been consistently practicing it successfully. There are so many people you can ask help or advice from, and sometimes they can give such insightful tips that you’ll never find on any online zero-waste article. Don’t be afraid to ask people about their sustainable practices or where they bought the eco-friendly stuff they use, because these people will always be happy to help those who want to be more environmentally-conscious. Branch out to fellow students or even dormers who live in the same situation as you, in order to get the appropriate and applicable zero-waste advice you may need.

I’ll admit, starting this lifestyle may seem daunting at first, especially when you’ve become so accustomed to your existing habits and convenient living practices. But knowing yourself and your lifestyle well, and the realistic ways in which you can start the change, is already a great place to start. After all, as Kathryn Kellogg—founder of the Going Zero Waste online platform—always says, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about making better choices.”

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Anya Nellas
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I was, but I am not. Desperately, I am trying to reach you – my hope. I am in this particular space in my own constructed world where doubts and frustrations recur. Emphasizing how scared I am being here, I never explored this area before. I was always in those places filled with benevolence, hope shining like the light the sun and the moon possess. And I didn’t have any plans to visit a ‘dark’ place, as how I described it then. But, as funny as how my world suddenly flipped, I am now here, completely lost with monsters persuading me to go insane.

How did I end up here? I can’t logically tell you the answer for that, but I guess, I know when. It started when I had to consider what college course do I want to pursue. Well, if you want to ask what ambition had occurred in my mind when I was young – which is usually the case in terms of life when you were like 7-year-old young - it was definitely being a doctor. I’d thought about wearing a medical coat with a stethoscope around my neck, ready to cure people from their illnesses. It was actually stuck in my mind for so long I almost thought that I was sure of it, yet, as a particular song yields, almost was never really enough and still, it is and will never be.

When I realized that such a perspective was slowly draining me, I tried my best to stand tough. I convinced myself that this was just temporary, that I could think of a way out of this. “There’s still plenty of time,” I once convinced myself. However, my environment demonstrated the contrary: I felt like I was completely out of time.

I was there when my classmates were happily talking about that ‘dream course’ they wish to take in their ‘dream university.’ I was there when my family was suggesting the thought of using my ‘suitable’ speaking voice for broadcasting and voice acting purposes. I was there when my teacher was convincing me that Education suited me the best. That ‘Stand tough!’ aura I used to own back then, suddenly transformed into ‘I give up!’ state, slowly destroying my being. And now, I am here in this space where doubts and frustrations are filling my former enthusiastic self. I need help.

I know, at this point, some of you may never consider me ‘fatal’ because, as you’re reading this, you may judge that I still have the ability to transform my thoughts into words that can be read, so that ‘automatically’ falls into the aspect of complete sanity. No, because I will never tell everything to you in the first place if I still have the urge to stand like I used to, relative to my belief that speaking up through writing is the best way to attract help.

When you look at the photo of mine above, you may say that I was okay. That I was successful. That I was never losing myself. Yes, I was. But, think about what happened days after that was taken and the message of this passage you started reading minutes before, do you think I am still the same girl smiling in the photo? I hope I will be or better yet, improve if the world will permit me. But, now I’m sure – I’m not the same.

LIFE ADVICE YOU NEED TO HEAR WHILE YOURE STILL YOUNG

This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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