Minimalism for College Students

Minimalism. In my post about traveling minimalist, I explained it at a way of living simply and carefree. I stand by that. I think this philosophy is so important to incorporate into our lives, especially when entering college, because it flows in various parts of our lives that, while a young and angsty adult, are very central to who we are and what we do on a day-to-day basis. Minimalism touches on food, fashion, environmentalism, social justice, religion, etc.

Here are the reasons why minimalism is important and how to incorporate it into your college life:

  • Move-In Day.  This is a stressful time by definition but it doesn’t have to be that way. The secret is… packing less than you think you need because I guarantee you won’t need it.
    • Clothing should be neat, neutral and smart, devoid of excessive college gear (one cap, sweatshirt or tee is fine) and you only need a couple of pairs of shoes.
    • Any dorm items should follow a simple color palette (neutrals and a pop color) and can be purchased on your school’s ‘buying & selling’ page or in thrift stores when in town. Buying used or second-hand is better for the environment and your wallet!
    • Before moving out of home, go through all of your things and separate them into things you want to take with you (essentials), things you’ll need at home (should just be memorabilia and pictures), and things to donate and give away. That way packing will be easier and your room will be less cluttered.  pexels-photo-322207.jpeg
  • What you eat. I’m also a fan of the low-waste lifestyle which involves using what you have, purchasing second hand, and only eating/buying things with minimal waste involved. College is wonderful in this respect because, when you have a meal plan, you tend to have access to buffet-style and fresh food. You might also get food dollars to use at partner stores that, at lease on the liberal east coast, are stocked with fresh fruits and veggies.
    • Bring a tote bag with you all the time to use for shopping. Mason jars or old pasta jars are perfect for storing fruit, grains or nuts.
    • I always take hand fruit from my school’s cafeteria!
    • Some schools now have apps that notify students of school events that offer free food and those that, when over, have leftover food for anyone to take.
    • Schools tend to have access or be near local farmer’s markets. Go to them and take friends with you! You can have a cooking night and you all pitch in with ingredients! pexels-photo-95425.jpeg
  • The Environment. Lucky for you, colleges are hubs of environmental justice with clubs that encourage recycling, the use of reusable water bottles and local shopping as well as elaborate recycling and composting programs and even departments that can help you make the transition.
    • Have a bin in your dorm set for composting products that you can take on campus weekly to deposit.
    • Minimalism means being simple and considerate so bring your own utensils, mason jars, water bottles, and cloth napkins when you go out to eat, or even out of the dorm because you never know!
    • Because your goal is to bring as little as possible, this might mean no journals or textbooks for you. Everything online! Good for you because you can find online textbooks cheap and you can never lose them! you’re also saving trees that way, and space in your dorm and backpack. I, however, am still working through some physical journals where I document my travels and life but after that’s used I’ll work on my transition.
    • Don’t accept flyers or business cards. They are just going to end up in the recycling bin anyways.instead, just snap a pic or write the information down on your phone. My advice: Facebook is utilized immensely for posting school-related events so get one of those and start looking!
    • Your school’s library has so many textbooks and articles so if you’re still wanting a physical textbook, borrow it instead of buying! You might also be able to get subscriptions to online magazines and newspapers so check it out. If you do want to buy, check out your school’s Facebook textbook page where students will be selling their textbooks at a fraction of the cost.
    • Go to your school’s IT store because you’re likely to be able to get tons of free software for your computer! pexels-photo-590510.jpeg
  • Mental Health. For me, living minimally has done wonders for my mind and stress levels because now I know what I’m going to wear, I don’t have to spend hours cleaning my dorm, and I have more time to think and reflect on how I’m living my life and what’s important to me.
    • De-clutter your dorm room once a month of any papers you might have accumulated, clothes that you thought you would use but didn’t, and anything else distressing you.
    • Honestly, having a cleaner room is remarkable especially during finals season when you might be a little stressed but only because of exams and not because your room is a mess.
    • What you eat plays with how you feel about yourself and the world. Eating simply and healthily (both go-tos for minimalism) will encourage you to exercise and be out with nature, to walk more, use the stairs more often, and drink more water from your super cute water bottle. Enjoy! man-person-hands-coffee.jpg
  • Social Justice. The principle behind minimalism is living simply which makes you more aware of the consumerist and selfish culture of the States and the wealth disparities within it, a trend that is sadly spreading throughout the world. I became more mindful of my health, of the environment, and of people in my city and the issues they faced. I found it mind-boggling that I used to spend money leisurely on things I never used and bought smoothies in styrofoam cups without thinking of those consequences and what it says about me as a person and my society.
    • Join clubs that interest you that deal with living simply and environmentalism. You’ll likely learn cool spots within your town that use minimal packaging, are fair trade, secondhand, etc. You’ll also make friends with people on the same journey as you!
    • Don’t fall prey to Amazon Prime when you can shop secondhand, locally and package-free! The only time I would recommend it is when shopping pantry and you’ll be getting a huge box with food you couldn’t get easily. If you can’t package the box with enough goods, buy with a friend and you’ll get a REALY BIG surprise. And don’t forget to let the seller know to not package the goods in plastic wrap and instead use paper wrap if needed. pexels-photo-612892.jpeg
  • Visiting Home. Visiting home should be a stress-free occasion and minimalism helps.
    • Bring only a medium-sized backpack, or a hiking backpack (mine is 65 L) for visits of more than 2 weeks. Depending on when you’re visiting and where you’re located, wear heavier stuff on the plane (if you’re taking one).
    • As for gifts, stick to free shirts you get (which I’m sure you do) and other school swag or things from your school store with minimal packaging and that are lightweight and durable like fountain pens or a scarf.
    • Tell your family what you’ve learned about being a more globally-conscious individual and encourage them to do the same, whether through recycling, composting, using reusable water bottles or straws, and even just bringing tote bags to the store when shopping.  food-salad-healthy-vegetables.jpg
  • Traveling. This one is my favorite because while in college you’re bound to travel with friends for spring break, hiking on the weekends, or even studying abroad.
    • It will be so much easier to pack because you have less and know what you use on a daily basis. My tip is investing in reusable toiletry bottles that you fill up with your favorite shampoo, body wash, etc so you’re not wasting on travel sized items you only use for a week.
    • Bring some homemade snacks like dried fruit or muesli.
    • Remember you can download guidebooks and maps (I recommend on your phone so you don’t need to buy any. If anything, borrow some from your school’s library to do your research then give them back before going on your trip.
    • Check out my study abroad articles here for more tips and advice. hiker-traveler-trip-travel-160483.jpeg


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