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.

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!

Spring Cleaning: Clothing Donations

Recycle Clothing

Spring Cleaning: Clothing Donations

With Spring just around the corner, there is no better time than now for Spring cleaning!! De-cluttering your home of unwanted items, thoroughly cleaning room to room, wiping the dirt off every nook and cranny you can find – these are all a part of the exciting (and sometimes tedious) Spring cleaning routine. At the end of it all, you might end up with a box or two of clothes that you always see in your closet but never reach for, or have forgotten about so it’s now out of style. Keep reading for tips on where to donate or recycle them!

Donating your clothes to non-profit organizations will ensure you’re donating to a good cause and helping those in need.

San Diego Rescue Mission 

San Diego Rescue Mission accepts clothing/shoes that are fairly new or gently used. They take into account the wishes of the donor and your requests on how the items you donate will be used. Most of their donations are given to students and guests at the San Diego Rescue Mission according to their needs.

Father Joe’s

Father Joe’s accepts clothing/shoes that are clean and gently used, and resells them at their thrift stores. The money collected from reselling the donations go directly towards helping the homeless population in San Diego.

Many mail-in programs exist for clothing/shoes donation, where most items are sent to developing countries for people who are poverty stricken and are in desperate need of clothes. 


Soles4Souls is a free mail in program which aims to turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty. Shoes are distributed to people in need and are also used to help people launce and sustain their own small businesses selling donated shoes and clothing.

The Bra Recyclers

The Bra Recyclers is a free mail in program that accepts bras, sports bras, mastectomy bras, nursing bras and new panties. The bras are then donated to women in developing countries, escaping domestic violence, human trafficking or battling breast cancer.

Retold Recycling

Retold Recycling is a mail in program that accepts damaged or very worn out clothes and textiles (blankets, towels, bed linen) to be recycled. Whether it’s just one sock or a full bag of clothing, Retold makes sure none of it ends up in the landfill. The items are sorted by type and quality, and are then sent to thrift stores, charities, upcyclers, recycling companies, and developing countries to support micro-economies.

USAgain Drop Off Bins

USAgain accepts clothing/shoes that are in reusable condition. Items in fairly good condition are given to people who don’t have the option to buy new clothes, allowing them to conserve funds for other basic necessities such as food, shelter and education. Some are sold to small shop owners or second hand stores who are in need of products to make ends meet. Items that are battered such as fabric scraps are either reused as wiping rags or shredded to insulation material for appliances and vehicles.

Many clothing brands have a take back program in place where if you bring back a used item you could get a discount to purchase a new item.


Madewell has a Do-Well recycling program in place where they offer free repairs in stores for patching, mending and other fixes. Used jeans are also available for purchase at their stores. Once you have fallen out of love with your jeans you can turn them in at Madewell, which then turns old bootcuts into housing insulation for communities in need.


Patagonia has a Worn Wear program where you are able to trade in or mail in used Patagonia garments that are still in good condition in exchange for store credit. They also offer a used clothing section as well as repair services in order to expand the lifespan of clothing and keep them out the landfill.

North Face

North Face accepts used apparel and footwear in any condition and brand at their stores and rewards $10 towards your next purchase of $100 or more. Items are then sent to Soles4Souls to be repurposed to provide small entrepreneurs with business opportunities.


Levi’s has a denim recycling program where you are able to drop off any denim from any brand, and be rewarded with a 20% discount off a single item. The recycled denim will be used as materials for building insulation for schools, hospitals and libraries.


H&M accepts textiles of any brand and condition at their stores, which are then sorted into the categories of rewear, reuse and recycle.

Trash Talk – Miramar Landfill Bus Tour

Waste Free

***This event has been filled.  Please check the ILACSD calendar for future landfill tours. ***

People have been burying garbage since humans evolved, but have you ever wondered where your waste goes once thrown into the bin? This three-hour bus tour will give you a peek behind-the-scenes to find out what really happens when you throw your trash away and what “away” really means.

Join I Love A Clean San Diego to better understand how your daily actions impact the Miramar Landfill and the City of San Diego’s goal to reach zero waste by 2040. You will not only learn about the importance of zero waste, but also given the tools on how to get there. Additional stops include the Allan Company Recycling Facility, the Greenery and the Household Hazardous Waste Transfer Facility.

There are only 55 seats available, so book your spot by August 8th to ensure your opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about the Landfill.  Seat priority will be given to City of San Diego residents.  If you are out of the City limits, you will be placed on a waitlist and informed a few days prior to the tour if seats are available. As a safety precaution, please wear pants and close-toed shoes. A signed waiver will be required at the start of the tour.  Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The bus will pick attendees up in the parking lot at Metro Biosolids Center.  Parking is available in the lot.  Carpooling is encouraged.

This tour is made possible by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department and facilitated by I Love A Clean San Diego.

Green Business Solutions Workshop

Green Business Solutions Workshop

Join I Love A Clean San Diego on Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm for our Green Business Solutions Workshop, sponsored by Wells Fargo. This interactive evening will focus on practical solutions to your business’ sustainability challenges! The workshop will be held at the Hoffman Room of the San Diego Foundation.

We will identify the importance of a zero waste lifestyle, how to implement these practices into your business, and the environmental and economic benefits of going green. Whether you work in an office, a restaurant, or in retail, we will have valuable information for all business models! This is a great opportunity for you to network and share ideas for creating a more eco-conscious work space.

Appetizers and drinks provided.  See you there!

Save Your Scraps! Workshop

Join ILACSD as we team up with the City of Vista to bring you Save Your Scraps, an interactive workshop focused on zero waste and organics! Come learn what it means to live a zero waste life and more specifically, how to keep organic waste out of the landfill by shopping smart, storing food properly, and composting your scraps! Join us for this fun, informative workshop and participate in one of the hands-on activities including a ‘make and take’ project and an eco-friendly kids’ craft.

Make and Take: Vermicomposting Bins (compost with worms) while supplies last.
Eco-Friendly Kids’ (or Adult) Craft: Decorate Produce Bags
Raffle Prizes: Bamboo Food Scrap Bin and mini Zero Waste Kit (Stasher bag and reusable straw)

In addition, can bring in gently used items you were planning to donate and participate in the Swap ‘n’ Shop! Participants can exchange or donate those items by giving them a second life and keeping them out of the landfill. Some example items that have been brought to past workshops include clothes, nail polish, stereos, pet supplies, books, CD’s, picture frames, kitchenware, Halloween costumes, etc.

See you there!

Green Business Solutions Workshop

Green Business Solutions Workshop

Interested in making your business a little greener, but not sure where to start? Have a green team, but hitting a roadblock? No matter where you are on your path to going green, I Love A Clean San Diego and Wells Fargo are here to help!

Join us on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm for our Green Business Solutions Workshop, an informative evening focused on how to make your business a more eco-conscious establishment! The workshop will be held at the San Diego Foundations Building in the Hoffman Room located at 2508 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106.

Whether you work in an office, a restaurant, or in retail, we will have valuable information for all business models! At this event, we will identify the importance of zero waste practices, teach you how to implement sustainable practices in your business, and discuss the environmental and economic benefits of going green! Hear from peers about their successes and struggles in implementing zero waste at their workplace. This event is open to the public! You can register online or walk in the day of the event.

See you there!
Register today!

Seaside Sustainability Workshop

Join ILACSD as we team up with the City of Carlsbad to bring you a workshop focused on sustainable living! On Saturday, June 23, 2018, we will be hosting the Seaside Sustainability Workshop from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Dove Library located at 1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA92011. The event is completely FREE and open to the public.

Come by and learn how to set yourself up for success in sustainability! Visit educational booths, participate in one of the hands-on activities, and bring in gently used items you were planning to donate and participate in the Swap ‘n’ Shop! Swap ‘n’ Shop participants can exchange or donate those items giving them a second life and keeping them out of the landfill. Make sure to stick around for our raffle where you have the opportunity to win sustainable prizes that will help with your eco-friendly journey!

Get registered today to reserve your spot! We hope to see you there!

Three Easy Actions to Take for a Greener Office on America Recycles Day

Today is the 10th annual America Recycles Day a nationally recognized day and an initiative by Keep America Beautiful that promotes ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our everyday lives. America Recycles Day is dedicated to the individual actions that people can take that create a collective difference for our environment! Having normal “blue bin” style recycling in the office is an awesome start, but let’s take a look at some other ways to boost your recycling program (if you don’t have a recycling program in place, check out our previous blog post that can help you get one started). Here are three easy ways you can enhance your workplace recycling in celebration of America Recycles Day.

Deal with the Graveyard of Dead Electronics: Recycle Electronics

Electronics are all around us, especially in a workplace. So what happens to all of those electronics when they kick the bucket? Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, should be properly recycled with a certified e-waste recycling company. Printers, computers, laptops, fax machines, phones (yes, most offices have landlines) can all be taken to a recycling location or a temporary collection event. Some businesses even offer to pick these items up from your workplace. Start by designating a spot in your workplace to collect electronics that are no longer working and can no longer be repaired (you can search for repair options on ). When you want to recycle the collected e-waste, simply use the search bar on by typing in a specific item, “E-waste Collection Event”, or “Electronic Waste Pick-up”.

Make sure everyone in the office knows where to drop off any electronic waste to be recycled.

Donate Before Ditching: Give Unwanted Office Supplies and Furniture to a Thrift Store

Does your workplace have way too many paper trays or stockpiles of old binders? Did your office go through a remodel and now has a bunch of outdated office decor? Don’t toss these items! Give your supplies and furniture a shot at finding a new home by donating them to a thrift store. Start by letting your colleagues know about the collection of unwanted office supplies, where they should drop off their unwanted supplies, and give them the opportunity to grab something they might need from the collection before it’s donated. Head over to to search “Thrift Stores” if you don’t know your nearest one. You can even find a local thrift store or organization that specializes in just second-hand furniture if you recently upgraded your office furniture.

Recent workplace renovations? Donate your unwanted office furniture or supplies to a nearby thrift store!

Stop Wasting Half the Paper Supply: Print Double-sided

A staple in almost any office is a large industrial printer. And chances are your office goes through a ton of paper. Remember to recycle that paper first off! Ensure that each cubicle, office, and room has a recycling bin and clear signage indicating the types of items that should be placed in it. But there is also another option to cut down on wasted paper: printing double-sided. Change your printer’s default setting to printing on both sides to reduce the amount of paper used. Another option is to have a pile of “previously printed on paper” that has an unused side. Utilize paper from this pile to manually feed into your printer for one-sided print jobs or for scratch paper!

Set those printer default settings to print on both sides of the paper!

Keep Up the Recycling Momentum

Don’t let your recycling efforts fade after America Recycles Day ends. Keep the conversation going! Each workplace should have a designated recycling champion…that can be you! Kindly remind your co-workers about recycling guidelines, reward anyone you catch “green-handed” (recycling correctly or contributing to the donation pile), and celebrate your workplace achievements with all of the staff. Don’t wait until the next America Recycles Day to implement a new practice and remember to provide your team with resources that make recycling crystal clear.

For more information regarding recycling, visit the Resources Page at or register for an upcoming workshop.

Zero Waste Parenting: Back to School

As anyone with kids knows, parenthood isn’t always easy. Add in the decision of leading a zero waste lifestyle and it can seem next to impossible. However, being a zero waste parent is not as far-fetched as it might seem. We’ve tackled a few zero waste parenting ideas in the past. And yes, it can take a bit more effort at first, but the small steps you take now will set your children up for a brighter and cleaner future! With that in mind, let’s get into our next zero waste parenting adventure and head back to school!

Go green with your Back to School routine!

Back to School season instantly conjures up ideas of supply lists and packing school lunches. Those ideas are usually accompanied by images of wasteful wrapping, plastic cutlery and sandwich bags, and a graveyard of old school supplies buried in some closet. With a few quick swaps on your supply list and ditching those single use items, greening up your Back to School routine can be much simpler than you would ever imagine.

Reduce, Reuse, or Repair:

When reviewing your new classroom needs for your kids, our first suggestion when it comes to zero waste habits is to reduce, reuse, or repair first. Is that lunch box from last year still in good condition? Can the scissors from years past be utilized again? If supplies from previous years are still usable, you should definitely reuse them! Make your supplies stand the test of time by opting for more classic designs. If you have simple prints and colors for lunchboxes and backpacks, there is less need to replace them year after year. If you have some broken items previous, try to repair them before you replace!

While you may not be able to utilize last year’s supplies every time, there is still the option to invest in reusable supplies going forward. This is especially important when it comes to school lunches. With a few extra minutes a day, you can make every school lunch much more sustainable. Swapping any single use item is a simple rule of thumb – switch from plastic sandwich bags to beeswax wraps or reusable snack bags, opt for a reusable utensil option over plastic cutlery, and ditch your single use plastic water bottles and grab a refillable alternative!

Invest in reusable lunch time alternatives! Don’t forget your reusable lunch bag!

Lunch isn’t the only time you can find sustainable alternatives! Check out the Everlast Rocket Book, a smart notebook that allows you to catalog your notes online. Once you use the notebook, you’re able to upload your notes, effortlessly clean off the book, and reuse the same notebook over and over!

Repurpose, Donate, or Recycle:

When you’ve exhausted your ability to reduce your single use items, repair broken supplies, and reuse anything you can, our next zero waste step on the list is to repurpose, donate, or recycle. Thrift stores are always a great option for Back to School shopping. There is also ample opportunity to donate and recycle your kids’ old supplies. One of the best parts of going zero waste is finding all of the organizations that are trying to make it as easy as possible. Crayola runs a Colorcycle program collecting and recycling old Crayola markers. Old binders of any brand can be donated to Office Depot for a recycling program they’re running in partnership with TerraCycle. You can also save $2 on a new binder when you donate an old one!

Follow these 4 steps from Crayola’s website to be an Eco-Cool School!

There are plenty of ways to go green even during the Back to School madness. With a little extra time, this whole zero parenting thing isn’t really all that difficultwell, no more difficult than parenting in general.