How To Be A Zero Waste College Student

It’s officially back to school season! For many incoming college students, it means packing up to live on their own for the first time as they head to campus dorms and apartments. Whether you are a freshman or heading back for another fun-filled year, moving into a college dorm is the perfect time to start implementing zero waste habits into your lifestyle. To help you get started, here are a few tips to live a zero waste lifestyle in your dorm!

Waste Less, Save More

While packing for college, think about what you already have! You probably own most of the items on your packing list. Start by packing your favorite blankets and pillows from home; this will help if you get homesick. Most campuses and residential communities have online, “Buy and Sell” Facebook groups where students can purchase used furniture, clothes, and books. Whether you are moving in or out of your dorm or apartment, make sure to check out these resources to reduce curb waste and save money. If you are unable to sell your furniture, donate it to a second-hand store instead of discarding it.

Bar soap and package-free shampoo are not always ideal options. However, metal tins (like these from Lush) are the perfect solution! These containers will help keep your soap clean in communal showers and reduce your plastic consumption. Also, consider purchasing multi-use products to reduce the amount of rigid plastic in your bathroom caddy. For example, coconut oil can be used as a conditioner, body lotion, and lip balm. Make sure to skip out on purchasing plastic loofas. Plastic loofas accumulate tons of bacteria and end up in landfills. Instead, DIY your own body scrub using natural alternatives! Lastly, make sure to switch out your plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable bamboo one!

Go from Fast Fashion to Sustainably Stylish

It’s a new year! Maybe your style changed, or maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Before shopping at fast-fashion retailers, think about the 26 trillion pounds of clothing and textiles that end up in landfills each year. Instead of falling victim to this growing trend, check out flea markets and thrift shops to maintain your zero-waste lifestyle.You can even plan a clothing swap party with your hometown friends before moving out! This is a great way to repurpose items that would have ended up in a landfill. While packing for college, make time to go through your entire wardrobe. Determine what clothes you wear regularly, and donate the rest. On your way to orientation, drop off old clothes at a second-hand store!

Remember college can be messy, so don’t invest in clothing you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Also, don’t forget that you can share clothes with your roommate(s) (just make sure to ask before borrowing)! Lastly, bring a few old t-shirts! Instead of using paper towels, use old t-shirts as rags to wipe down your desk or clean windows.

Pass on the Plastics

What is every college student’s best friend? COFFEE. Unfortunately, most disposable coffee cups are lined with plastic, making them hard to recycle. Investing in a reusable bottle, such as a HydroFlask, is a great way to reduce this type of waste and save money! Most on-campus coffee shops will even give students discounts for bringing their own mugs.

Cooking in college can be a struggle. If you do not have access to a full kitchen, see if you can bring reusable containers to the dining halls. This way, you can avoid Styrofoam and plastic packaging, while saving money and helping the environment! If you like to snack while studying, try making these no-bake granola bites. These granola bites are not only the perfect study snack, but they are also healthy and waste free!

Rethink How You Write

We continue to live in an increasingly digital world. Instead of buying new notebooks, try going paperless next semester! Taking notes on a laptop can make studying and collaborating with your classmates easier. However, if you learn better by handwriting your notes, consider investing in a Rocketbook. These notebooks can digitally transcribe text.

College textbooks can be crazy expensive. One easy way to save money and reduce your waste is to purchase used textbooks, borrow old textbooks from your friends, or use an e-book. Another tip is to ask your professors if you can reuse blue books that still have blank pages in them!

Take Action!

Remember, in college, people won’t make fun of different lifestyle habits. Instead, they will want to ask questions, learn more, and educate themselves on zero waste habits! Meet friends starting their zero waste journey by joining clubs or volunteering at your campus’ sustainability center.

Unfortunately, not all college lifestyle habits can be easily translated into zero waste practices. For example, cheap ramen will normally be packaged in plastic (however, there are meal prep options when you are further along in your zero waste journey). What is important is that you are taking steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle and contributing to a healthier and greener future!

For more inspiration on how to find zero waste ideas, resources, and other waste reduction techniques, our one-stop database WasteFreeSD or calling our staff at 1-800-237-BLUE (1-800-237-2583) for incorporated residents or 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784) for unincorporated residents will help answer any of your questions.

How to Be Sustainable on Your Summer Trip

It’s no secret that traveling is one of the best parts of summer, be it a trek over 2,700 miles away to NYC or just 2 miles to Mission Beach. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray. Lucky for us, the reality of sustainable traveling is as easy as making small choices that lessen the impact we have on our destinations and the environments we cross to get there. Here are a few tips to consider to go green on your next summer trip.

Before Leaving

Any change starts at home and if you’re going on vacation anytime soon, be sure to minimize your ecological footprint in your home as much as possible while you’re away. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

Adjust Your Thermostat

You’re going to be gone for a few days, and if there are no pets or people, there is no reason to have the AC on full blast nor should the heat be on. Given we are in the midst of summer, your thermostat should be set around 85º F (you could even turn it off if you want) so long as it doesn’t interfere with any temperature-sensitive appliances like your refrigerator.

Unplug Electronics

We are constantly using electricity even when we don’t realize it. Any time an electronic device or appliance is plugged in, even if it’s not in use, it is still using electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, about 60%, according to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration. So before you go, don’t forget to unplug any gaming system, TV, laptop, toaster, or microwave that would otherwise be using power while you’re away. Check out these energy saving tips.

What to Bring

Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most important phases of the pre-trip process. What you bring impacts your choices once you’re there, so why not set yourself up for sustainable success by keeping the following in mind during your packing.

Pack Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags

Simply roll one or two bags up and tuck them into your suitcase or backpack to cut down on the packaging you would otherwise throw away when shopping in a different city. This is also a helpful day bag option if you don’t want to haul all of your luggage around town!

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

One water bottle takes on average at least 450 years to degrade, and it takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water inside the bottle. Consider skipping the plastic bottle all together and invest in a durable bottle.

Bring Less, Pack Light

There are a plethora of benefits that come along with packing light, ranging from saving on baggage fees when flying to knowing what you have is what’s by your side. The biggest benefit, however, comes from the shrinking of your carbon footprint when you fly, the less you bring the less weight the airplane carries which lessens the plane’s fuel use and carbon emissions.

Choose Your Method of Travel Wisely

Let’s get this out the way now: walking is the most sustainable mode of transport we will ever have. When it comes to making sustainable travel decisions, the distance you’re traveling is the most important factor.

Local Trips

When heading out to the beach to meet up with friends, consider taking public transportation. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also help improve local air quality which is often much worse in urban areas where traffic tends to suffer from congestion.

Another option (for those close enough) is to get the gang together and then bike to your destination.

Further Destinations

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate Portal, public transportation emits far less greenhouse gas emissions compared to cars, due to the higher number of people buses can carry in one trip. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $20-$400 one-way depending on the distance traveled and how early you book, the price of domestic flight tickets, which are up 14% this year, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as you’re taking less total flights.


Once You’ve Arrived

Stay at a Green Hotel or with Family and Friends

If you’re not leaving the United States, check if the hotel you’re planning on staying at is LEED certified by the US Green Business Council, they judge on sustainability, efficiency, and quality of the way buildings are constructed, maintained and operated. If you are going overseas be sure to find out what that countries green hotel certification program is and what hotels are certified.

If you have any family or friends where you’re going, ask them if you can crash at their place for a few nights.

Keep Your Shopping Habits Local

When staying in a place far from home, we tend to cling to things we are familiar with, be it a certain kind of soap or a certain kind of food. Many of these things must be flown or shipped from overseas, which only contributes to greenhouse emissions. Every time you buy local, you not only support the local economy but you also get a unique taste of the local culture and cuisine.

Rethink Souvenirs

For many of us, one of the best parts of traveling is the cool stuff we buy while out globetrotting.When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need that little knick-knack or if a picture of it would suffice. If you still want to shop around, just follow the advice from above and stay local because who wants something made from an assembly line a thousand miles away anyhow?

Getting Around

Though it may be easier to call up an Uber or taxi service to drive you around, the average vehicle still releases about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA. As an alternative try renting a bike from either a bike shop or at an automated bike rental stand. Another option would be to take public transportation which reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per person or just walk, eliminating these emissions completely.

Remember that even if you just put into action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe travels!

4 Steps to Zero Waste Pumpkin Carving

4 Steps to a Zero Waste Pumpkin Carving For Halloween

Carving pumpkins for Halloween? With all of the goodness that usually gets tossed into the trash during this holiday activity, learn how to make this tradition more sustainable. Check out these 4 steps to make your carving completely zero waste this year!

But First! Cut Your Pumpkin

Start with a sharp knife, metal spoon, and two bowls – one for flesh and one for seeds. Cut open the pumpkin by carving a circle into the top (or bottom) of the pumpkin.

Scoop out seeds & strings (aka “guts”) into one bowl, and then for the other bowl use a strong spoon to scrape the walls for the “flesh” that can be used to make pie! 

Then, carve your design as desired!


1. Roast the Pumpkin Seeds for a Tasty Snack

Ingredients: Raw Seeds, Water, Olive Oil or Butter, Salt

  • Rinse seeds & separate guts
  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Coat bottom of baking pan with olive oil or butter
  • Spread seeds on a pan and in a single layer – toss them to coat with the oil & add salt (can also add chili flakes or other seasoning!)
  • Bake on the top rack until seeds begin to brown, ~ 20 minutes. When lightly browned, remove & let cool.

Store in a jar and use as a snack or an addition to soups, salads, granola bars, oatmeal bowls and more!

2. Make Some Purée!

  • Bring water to boil in bottom of steamer or in a pan
  • Remove skin from pumpkin meat & slice into similarly sized chunks
  • Place chunks in a steamer (or metal colander in pan with lid on) for approx. 50 minutes or until soft & mushy
  • Squash with fork or potato masher to make purée, or use a blender

Leave to cool and use it for other recipes like pie, face masks, or soup! Freeze leftovers for later use.

3. Revitalize your skin with a DIY pumpkin face mask.

Nourish your skin and use the extra remains of pumpkin puree to make a face mask at home!  For an exfoliating facial scrub mix ½ cup of pumpkin purée with 1 tbsp of organic honey and ½ of finely ground oatmeal. For a quick and vitamin-C filled face mask, mix 1 tbsp.of pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. of plain yogurt. For more inspiration, try one of the face mask recipes from Hello Glow.

4.  Repurpose carved pumpkins and turn them into bird feeders!

Cut your carved pumpkins in half and fill the bottom with bird seed. Then, watch as feathered friends flock to your yard! Afterwards, be sure to compost the remainder. Just don’t forget to scrape off any wax from the pumpkin so it doesn’t get eaten!

After you’ve used up all the pumpkin that you can, take a moment to be proud of yourself and appreciate your ability to use up every part of the pumpkin! Be sure to share your knowledge with your friends, family, and neighbors! Happy Halloween!

Want to find the nearest location where you can compost your pumpkins and any other organic food waste? Visit our website and find the closest recycling, repair, donation or disposal centers near you!

SD County Used Oil & Oil Filter Recycling Event

SD County Used Oil & Oil Filter Recycling Event

Join I Love A Clean San Diego, in partnership with the County of San Diego, Saturday, November 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at your participating* O’Reilly Auto Parts to recycle your used oil and oil filter! Bring in a used oil filter and receive a new one for free.

812 S. Main Ave., Fallbrook

9732 Winter Gardens Blvd., Lakeside

1935 Main St., Ramona

8375 Paradise Valley Rd., Spring Valley

10050 Campo Rd., Spring Valley

For more information visit or call 877-R-1-EARTH

Limit 5 gallons of used oil per day, per person.
One free filter per person. Limit 2 filters per household.
Offer valid only during the specified date, time, and place listed above.
Free filter must be of equal or lesser value, not to exceed $17 before taxes.


Evento de Reciclaje de Aceite y Filtro

El aceite usado de un cambio de aceite puede contaminar un millón de galones de agua dulce. ¡Haz tu parte por tu comunidad y recicla tu filtro de aceite y aceite usado juntos! ¡Trae un filtro de aceite usado y recibe uno nuevo gratis el Sábado, 5 de Noviembre, 10:00 a.m. a 2:00 p.m. en las tiendas participantes O’Reilly Auto Parts. Gracias a el Condado de San Diego por patrocinar este evento.

812 S. Main Ave., Fallbrook

9732 Winter Gardens Blvd., Lakeside

1935 Main St., Ramona

8375 Paradise Valley Rd., Spring Valley

10050 Campo Rd., Spring Valley

Para más información visita o llamas 877-R-1-EARTH

Límite de reciclaje: 5 galones de aceite usado por día, por persona.
Un filtro gratis por persona. Limite de dos filtros por hogar.
Oferta de filtro gratis válida unicamente durante la fecha, hora y lugares mencionados.
El filtro gratis debe ser de igual o de menor valor, sin exceder $17 antes de impuestos.

Zero Waste Parenting Tips and Tricks Webinar

Trashcan overflowing? Raising kids can produce a LOT of waste, but we can help!

Register today for I Love A Clean San Diego’s upcoming free webinar, Zero Waste Parenting Tips and Tricks, on Wednesday, October 26th, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. We will focus on the importance of involving children in decision making surrounding sustainable choices and emphasizing our connection to the planet. From infants to teens, we’ll share how to integrate low-waste habits into daily routines in achievable ways, including toys, snacks, birthday parties, activities, and school supplies.

We will be joined by guest speaker and zero waste parenting expert Fredrika Syren! Syren is a San Diego local, mother of three, and author of “A Practical Guide to Zero Waste for Families”.

Please register to receive the Zoom link.

Thank you to the City of Encinitas for funding and partnering with us to offer this webinar. We can’t wait to see you there!

Make Your Green Bin Great Webinar

A brand new green waste program is headed your way! In late 2021, Republic Services opened their state-of-the-art composting facility at the Otay Landfill. This facility will turn Chula Vista’s organic waste into usable compost and mulch – but how, and how can we participate? Join I Love A Clean San Diego, Republic Services, and the City of Chula Vista for a virtual sit down as we talk about the brand new curbside organics program.

In this webinar, we’ll discuss:
• Why recycling organic waste is important
• What can go in your green bin
• How to keep your green bin clean
• What goes on at the compost facility

We’ll also be joined by guest speakers from Republic Services and the City of Chula Vista, who will be answering attendee questions live! Registration is open to all, and please note that we will be focusing on the exciting new organics program in the City of Chula Vista. Register here to receive the Zoom link, and come with questions!


38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

Free online registration opens on September 1, 2022.

Join hundreds of thousands of volunteers all over the world by participating in the 38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 17th, 2022. Register to be a part of the largest single day environmental action event in San Diego County by removing polluting litter and debris from your community.

By joining forces with I Love A Clean San Diego and getting out in your local community to remove trash, you can support your neighborhood and protect our San Diego watersheds. Volunteers of all ages are invited to grab buckets and work gloves and join one of our 75+ site locations across San Diego County. No matter where you live in the county, every gutter, street, parking lot, park, canyon and beach is in one of the county’s 11 watersheds. The health of these systems means healthier creeks and ocean for all of us!

Registration opens Thursday, September 1 at

Officially sign up on September 1, 2022 and get ready to clean up San Diego County on September 17th. Registered volunteers will receive important safety and site resources and information to have a successful cleanup. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Kristin Banks, to register by phone if you do not have internet access: (619)787.4448 Throughout the month of September, we will share event updates and more to prepare you for the big day. Learn more about Troop patches, community service verification, and more at

Morning After Mess Cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San Diego for a litter cleanup at Fiesta Island! We are partnering with Surfrider San Diego to clean up around Mission Bay after the celebratory July 4th weekend.

Our staff will be set-up with a check-in table at Fiesta Sunset Beach. Join us at 9am to grab supplies and help us clean up!

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.

Sunset Sweep: Manzanita Canyon Cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San DiegoSan Diego Canyonlands, and Think Blue San Diego for a litter cleanup in Manzanita Canyon! We will divert litter from the San Diego Bay Watershed and keep it from traveling to the Pacific Ocean.

Our staff will be set-up with a check-in table at The Manzanita Gathering Place. Join us at 3pm to learn about the canyon and recycling right, then grab supplies and help us clean up!

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.

Watershed Warriors: Flinn Springs Community cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San DiegoFlinn Springs County Park, and The County of San Diego for a litter cleanup in Flinn Springs! We will divert litter from the San Diego River Watershed and keep it from traveling to the Pacific Ocean.

Our staff will be set-up with a check-in table and supplies at Flinn Springs County Park. Join us at 9am for a talk by our Education Team about our watersheds and recycling right, then grab supplies and help us clean up!

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.