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10 Simple Ways for Students to Adopt a Low-Waste Lifestyle (2024)

Living a low-waste lifestyle is one of the best ways to reduce our personal impact, and our personal contribution to the global waste and climate crisis.

Pollution is a major environmental problem that needs immediate attention. It’s also essential for the climate.

Thankfully, many adults, students and youngsters are adopting a more sustainable lifestyle by making changes to how they live, the transport they use, and what they eat and what they buy.

While there is greater awareness of issues like climate change and ocean plastic pollution, few people are aware of the impacts of the waste we generate at home, once it is whisked away by the garbage truck each week!

This lack of awareness prevents people from understanding why we all need to produce less waste. Garbage in landfills piles up, emitting greenhouse gases, which, in turn, contribute to climate warming. 

However, we can look ahead with optimism. Change is in everyone’s power. And even though some negative habits are deeply rooted in our behavior, we can change them.

Becoming aware of the habits that affect the environment is the first step. Making small changes is the second.

So, here we will share 10 simple sustainable ways to students and everyone else to adopt a low-waste lifestyle:

Why It’s Important to Live More Sustainably and Adopt a Low-Waste Lifestyle

Climate change is a real problem, even though many people advertise it as a hoax. Protecting the planet is something we all should do.

Climate change was triggered by human actions. Since the industrial revolution, people’s actions have emitted about 375 billion tonnes of carbon. In a consumer driven culture, students are even getting into debt to cover their buying habits, in addition to their student loans

And the effects are easily visible.

Even though people who do not live in coastal areas might not feel the effects of the weather warming and climate change, they are still present.

Recent years have been among the warmest ever recorded, and are more extreme weather events around the globe. The intensity and frequency of wildfires have risen. The same goes for hurricanes, which nowadays mainly affect the USA.

Climate change comes with many negative effects on humanity and our lifestyle. The production of food is also in danger. There are more and more people on the planet and sustaining them all is challenging.

Even though coastal areas are among the first visibly affected by climate change, all people on Earth are surely already experiencing it one way or another. If not all are affected by the levels of the sea rising, they have likely experienced heatwaves. Or they have noticed that winters are not as cold or long they used to be.

And all these changes have a negative effect not only on humanity but on nature and animals too. They are more sensitive than us to rising temperatures. The oceans are also getting more acidic and food in the sea is scarce.

So, how does waste contribute to climate change? There are many complicated relationships between, manufacturing, waste, pollution and climate change.

Take a look at this video by Center for International Environmental Law to see how plastic alone contributes to climate change:


Faced with such massive issues, it can feel like you, as an individual, do not have the power to change things. However, the small steps we take and the changes we make as individuals do make a difference!

So, here are 10 small steps you can take to make a difference:

10 Simple Ways for Students to Adopt a Low-Waste Lifestyle

1. Minimize Food Waste 

We need food and water to survive. Becoming aware of the cycle your food goes through will help you minimize food waste. This is because there are a lot of greenhouse gasses emitted from the production, packaging, and transportation of food.

Take a look at this video by Bloomberg Quicktake: Explained for a snapshot of how food waste contributes to climate change:


Food production contributes to around 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Which is huge. On the other hand, food waste contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

In total, food (production and losses) accounts for almost 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is why it is so important to minimize food waste. Look for creative ideas to use leftovers. Have shopping lists with you to avoid buying things you do not need. Organize the shelves of your fridge and store food appropriately. This way, it will last longer and less will end up in the garbage!

2. Replace Plastic Bags with Reusable Ones 

Another technique students are using to adopt a low-waste lifestyle is avoiding plastic bags. Not everyone knows that plastic is made of oil. Companies that are drilling for oil are destroying natural habitats and the environment. All these while contributing carbon emissions and polluting the environment. 

Moreover, many types of plastic bags cannot be recycled. So, they end up in a landfill, where it takes 1000s of years to degrade. Replace plastic bags and any kind of plastic packaging. Convert some tote bags to shopping ones. They can be used many times, washed, and reused, say experts from an essay writing service

3. Choose Second-Hand Clothes

Fast fashion is another trend that is contributing to climate change. People are presented each year with hundreds of new fashion trends. There are new clothes of new colors you are encouraged and urged to buy, but people only wear a limited amount of clothes. 

So, there is no need to have closets full of shoes and clothes. Moreover, this trend of fast fashion contributes to around 4% of global greenhouse gases. Choose to buy natural fibers, second-hand. Also, donate or sell the clothes you are not wearing. Like this, they will have a new life instead of degrading in a landfill. Textiles take up more than 200 years to decompose. 

Low-waste Lifestyle - Image of neutral coloured clothing on a minimalist looking clothing rail

4. Compost 

Composting is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. And you do not need a lot of things. All you need is to place the vegetable and fruit scraps in a composting bin. You can also add eggshells, unbleached paper, and many more.

In the end, you will have nutritious soil for your plants. And you will also reduce the amount of garbage generated, and eliminate the harmful methane produced by your food waste when it goes to landfills. 

5. Recycle

When you cannot reuse or repurpose the things you have, you can recycle them. Even though many people promote recycling as the best solution to reduce waste, it isn’t. In fact, recycling is difficult. There are too few recycling centers for the number of recyclables people generate. 

Moreover, there are a lot of different plastic types. They cannot be recycled together, as each of them has different properties. On top of this, there is a lot of energy and water waste involved, so recycling should be the last step. However, it is better to recycle than to throw your garbage in the trash. Find a recycling center near you and sort your recyclables. 

6. Reuse 

The internet is full of principles to live by when you care for the environment. A low-waste lifestyle might seem unattainable, but it really isn’t.

Reusing or giving a new purpose to the objects you do not use anymore is the way to go. Like this, you minimize the waste that ends up in a landfill. For example, you can make plant pots from used metal cans, and grow your own herbs

Low-waste lifestyle - Image of an upcycled tin can plant pot

7. Make Your Own Cosmetics 

This idea might sound odd, but it is currently surging in popularity. It is popular especially among students because it helps them save some money, while also protecting the environment.

Many cosmetics companies are still testing the products on animals. Moreover, they use chemicals that might affect your health. Choose to buy or make natural soaps, eco-friendly makeup and vegan and cruelty-free products instead! You can find many DIY cosmetics ideas online, to make your own soap, sanitizer, lip balm, shampoo, and many more. 

Try this easy three ingredient lip balm recipe by Bottega Zero Waste to get started:


8. Order Less Takeout at Home and On the Go

Even though ordering food can’t sometimes be avoided, you should try to do it. Adopting a low-waste lifestyle is difficult, but not impossible.

Try to cook your meals and use reusable containers to take them with you. Like this, you reduce the waste generated by this action. 

9. Low-Waste Products 

Climate change is a topic of high importance, so people are looking for ways to adapt to it. Choosing low-waste products for your house is another way you can protect the Earth. Many zero-waste stores are producing great eco-friendly, zero-waste products you might use daily. 

For example, instead of plastic cotton swabs, you can use bamboo ones. Instead of kitchen napkins, you can use reusable and washable cloths. Instead of plastic sponges, you can use an eco-friendly loofah, advises a climate essay writer

10. Use a Reusable Water Bottle 

Plastic bottles can be seen anywhere. And the saddest thing is that they are all over nature, intoxicating it. But they are intoxicating not only the environment but humanity too. The chemicals that degrade enter the soil, and then the groundwater. We drink that water and also eat vegetables grown in that soil. 80% of all plastic bottles end up in landfills. You can use a reusable bottle. Refilling it on the way is eco-friendlier than buying a new one every time you get thirsty. 


Adopting a low-waste lifestyle is the solution towards a healthier planet. Even though some changes are more challenging than others, they positively contribute to the health of the planet. The 10 steps detailed here are some of the simplest ways to do this, and the ones most popular among students. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which are the first changes I should make to live a low-waste lifestyle? 

All lifestyle changes are important. But firstly, you could focus on getting a reusable water bottle, minimizing food waste, and replacing plastic bags with reusable ones. Check the full guide for more easy ways to live a low-waste lifestyle. 

Is it more expensive to live a low-waste lifestyle?

While some eco-friendly products might be pricier than others, living a low-waste lifestyle is very economical and will actually help you save money. Nothing is wasted, and nothing unnecessary is purchased. Check the full guide for more easy ways to reduce waste and spend less. 

How do I motivate myself to live a low-waste lifestyle?

Replacing bad habits is always difficult. Change is challenging. But remember that you're doing this not only for the environment but for your health too. We rely on nature to provide us shelter, food, and water. And caring for it means caring for us. Check the full guide for some easy ways to do this that will become habits in no time! 

References and Useful Resources

Centre for Biological Diversity: 10 Facts About Single-Use Plastic Bags

Healthy Human Life: Plastic Water Bottle Pollution: Where do all the Bottles End Up?

New Scientist: Food Production Emissions Make Up More Than a Third of Global Total

Roadrunner Waste Management: The Environmental Crisis Caused by Textile Waste

Statista: Historical carbon dioxide emissions from global fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes from 1750 to 2020

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