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

These simple practices, when done consistently, end up being worth a lot.

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.

Recommended Videos

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).


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.


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.


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.”










About the author
Anya Nellas
Candy Correspondent

Candy Bulletin

What're you up to today? Submit your OOTD, fanfic, essay, school project, org event, a pic of your latest hobby, or anything you want to be posted on the Candy Bulletin page!
Reminder: Posts will be subject for approval by the Candy team, and may be shared on our online channels. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are strictly prohibited. Only original work must be submitted.
Hi, you!
*1st 15 seconds will be uploaded
*File size limit (up to 60MB)
*File size limit (up to 60MB)
Upload Video
*For the direct video upload option, only the first 15 seconds of the video will be uploaded
*File size limit (up to 60MB)

By submitting your post, you agree to Candymag's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Thank you for submitting your post.
You will be notified via email once your entry has been approved by the Candy team.

Submitted posts will be subject to the approval of the Candy Team.

A few reminders:

  1. Candy Bulletin is an online platform where users can upload original work, personal passion projects, and other forms of self-expression, for the purpose of sharing with the community.
  2. You can upload photos of your curated OOTDs, 15-second videos, essays, poems, and more, as long as the submitted work is original, follows copyright laws, and free of any nudity, pornography, or profanity.
  3. You are encouraged to comment on one another's posts, as long as everyone remains respectful.
Submit Another Post
latest on
"I don't see anything but love here, but somehow they hate it so much."
Her son was found alive and uninjured, wearing a life vest.
It's the latest quarantine food trend we've been craving!
Ronnie on Loisa: "Excited na ako sa mga puwede mangyari sa aming dalawa."
Janella took to Twitter to issue her only statement towards the accusations.
From bonds born out of starring together in dramas to adorable friendships between actors and idols.
A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here
Serene Fae 6 hours ago

"The paradoxical idea of attaining a happier life and how to withstand these beliefs."

The Revolting Truth About Happiness by Theserenefae

If people ask you about your vision of a happier life we automatically envision ourselves having more money, true love, a better job, Instagram-worthy vacations, etc. But let me break this to you this, According to Dr. Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology at Yale University and the voice behind The Happiness Lab podcast, "Most of the goals we think would make us happy do not really make us happy." And why is that? Simple, being happy is all in our minds. The human mind ploys us with these lenses on how we envision ourselves and our lives to be happy. The perception of "having" or "gaining" is the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. So how can we really be "happy"?

• Seek happiness inside you. This is a quintessential reason for our vision of happiness: misconceptions about having a lot of money would make me happy; owning this and that would make me happy; entering a relationship would make me happy. This is not the case, if you want to be truly happy with your relationship, you have to be already happy on your own. If you want satisfaction from others, you have to be satisfied with yourself. And so on.

• Fill that hole righteously We all have that tiny hole inside our hearts, tampering it with temporary band-aids. Fill this hole with purpose. Have you ever heard about The Three "M's"— Master, Mission, and Mate? Define who will be your Master, is it God? If that's so, your Mission could be following his words and will. Mate would be the last for they will be the best companion to fulfill your mission. Now hear me out, it is important to do this accordingly. We often times jumble it or invert it which can lead to failures.

• Give gifts to others. The wonderful grace in giving. There’s nothing like the rush of pure joy when you get a chance to give. However, this may not be something that we're used to. But apparently, openhandedness is our soul's true shape. As Eugene Peterson put it, "Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born." This doesn't necessarily mean we have to give away our stuff but we can also present love, kindness, gratefulness, etc. in our own simplest ways to anyone such as giving time, encouragement, helping hand, or even forgiveness. Try giving and you'll receive inconceivable gifts in return.

• Savor moments. Savoring deeply intensifies our positive emotions while doing something that we love the most by simply stepping outside of the experience to review and appreciate the moment. You can practice this by having a delicious meal, reading a good book, or any activity that you enjoy and love. It can also be enhanced by sharing these experiences with others, appreciating such amazing moments, or staying present the entire time.

• Choose to Love Deeper Today's society relentlessly pressures all of us to have this "perfect" lifestyle such as pursuing careers that drain you, finding value through virtual world and purchases, letting achievements become your whole identity, and yet after all that you still feel empty and failure inside. Consumption is just skin deep—a shallow perception of happiness. Deep life brings the best out of us and others. It is about nourishing what you already have, focusing on the relationships than material wealth, becoming vulnerable at times, and being self-aware.

• Understand that Sufferings and Pain are part of Human Being. Always remember that loneliness and sufferings are inevitable. That is completely how life goes. You may be happy for a moment or a month but sooner or later great tribulation will start to kick in. Combat despair with graciousness. Count all the blessings that you have (and will have in near future, claim it!) by writing it down on a piece of paper or typing on your phone. Viola! an instant boost for happiness. We all know the fact that this superficial happiness won't work, but why do I keep on wanting? I already have all this wisdom about how to be happy for ages, but why can't I apply it to my own life?

First, you have to understand that simply knowing doesn't change your behavior. Care to realize that all the tips that I have mentioned are all verbs? Because at the end of the day, it is all about how you choose to be happy and initiate actions towards success. Know, reflect, visualize, believe, and do something about it. All of these are Actions! This is the secret of all the happiest and most influential people in the world—actions. Furthermore, do know that some of these tips do not work instantly most of the time. It requires a lot of time, motivation, consistency, and effort. I do know it's easier said than done. Take each of them slowly, one step at a time.

If it wasn’t for pain, I wouldn’t be alive. It may sound contradictory, but it’s true. Pain reminds me that I can feel, along with other emotions. Pain reminds me that I can heal, just like how I did in the past. Pain reminds me that I am strong and I can do better. It reminds me that life can be bitter, and it is up to us to make it a little sweeter (or saltier, depending on what the person wants).

With this epiphany, I take pain in a positive light. It’s normal that it can break me and make me want to stay in bed all day, but having someone or something remind me that there is hope is enough. It’s normal that I cry my heart out, but it’s important to remember that there’s a calm after the storm. If it wasn’t for pain, I wouldn’t be who I am now. It has shaped me and how I look at things. It has changed the way I approach circumstances that can challenge me and my beliefs.

Pain, back then, made me cower in the dark. Pain used to be my biggest fear, and I used to do my best to avoid pain. However, I realized that avoiding pain is like avoiding life. Because of how I wanted to protect myself, I closed myself off to people and opportunities. I used to tell myself that “this will end badly”, or “this is going to hurt in the end”. I always focused on how much pain I might endure in the end that I forgot to enjoy the process.

It’s inevitable, you see? Endings, most of the time, may hurt. It’s natural for us to grow attached to someone or something, and their disappearance might bring us a lot of pain. However, one should always remember that the pain is a reminder of how close you became, how many memories you had. If it wasn’t for pain, life would be pointless. If it wasn’t for pain, we would be nothing.

margaux marie 6 hours ago

19 year old pharmacy student-businesswoman from Pampanga. I, Kimberly Chaile D. Ocampo, started planning my own business back when I was 18 years old. Despite being a student, that did not stop me to work and start up something for me to earn my own money. I was also influenced by my parents who are both hands on when it comes to the marketing world. I have decided to start my own mini restaurant/fast food restaurant recently (Feb 2020) and it was named as “Hungry Hubb”. From the word itself which is “Hungry” we thought of something that would give people the biggest hint that we sell food.

Because of the sudden quarantine, every store was forced to close for our own safety that is why there was a sudden decrease on our sales. But Hungry Hubb managed to survive by focusing on online selling and social media promotion. Our best seller would be Shawarma salad which is mediterranean style. We add authentic Garlic sauce to our shawarma (Which is available in Wrap, Salad, & Rice). Every product that we sell are very affordable and delicious. Our starting price is only 50php. (Shawarma Wrap). For Shawarma Salad (70php). We also have Milktea (60php) and Rice meals such as Lechon Kawali, Chicken barbecue, and Pork Barbecue for only 120 pesos.

And of course, I wouldn’t make it up this far without the help of my family and friends who have supported be from the very start. This is an open letter and inspirational especially to students that want to earn their own money. Nothing is impossible. You just have to be determined enough to turn your plans into reality.

Pick a sticker to view stories by reaction!