Every year as young men and women across the country embark on their exciting new lives as college students (or return as upper classmen) thousands of tons of garbage is generated as new dorm rooms are outfitted. Luckily, it has never been easier on both the planet and your wallet to green your dorm room.
For most students, this is the first step into a real “adult life”. It can feel overwhelming and from the outside it seems to take so much stuff to actually make it work! But with a little planning, some list making, and coordinating with your roommates you can have a sustainable dorm room that will have all your hall-mates turning
- Keep it local: Many students move to college from towns far from where they grew up, but there is no need to ship every single item from your room at home to your new college dorm. By all means bring your favorite pillow, your fluffiest towels, and those fabulous shoes that look great with all your dresses, but you don’t need to ship your bookcase, your desk and your couch! Most dorm rooms are completely furnished and for those small shelving and storage needs you can find those at a local shop. This cuts down your carbon footprint and supports local businesses in your new college home!
- Re-used doesn’t = repulsive: No one likes to show up at the party wearing the same shirt as another guest, so why would you want your dorm room looking just like all the others? Check out Craigslist and vintage and thrift stores for lightly used furniture, lamps, shelving and decorations before you hit the chain stores. You’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces that have been gently loved and will make your room the coolest one on the floor.
- BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle! Investing in a tabletop filter and a reusable bottle you can say bye-bye to lugging heavy packs of individually bottled water up to your dorm room. And with hydration stations scattered all over campus, you are never far from a water source when you are out on campus. So just toss your bottle into your backpack and you’ll have fresh water anywhere you go and you’ll be saving space in the landfill.
- You have the power: With all the studying you’ll be doing you’ll need a way to unwind! Whether you like to watch reality TV, ESPN, or the cooking channel be sure to look for Energy Star rated TVs. They use about 30% less energy! And while you are picking out that TV, don’t forget to invest in a smart power strip and plug that TV, and everything else electronic, into it!. A smart strip will turn power off to your devices that go into standby mode and save power by combating vampire power losses. Turn it off at night and when you aren’t using it for even more energy savings!
- GTS or Google That Sheet: Possibly the most important investment you will make in college will be your sheets. Yes. Sheets. More important than books, computers, or the amazing wall art you found at a thrift store in Orange Circle. After a hard night of studying crawling into your snuggly bed is extremely rewarding! Make sure the new extra-long twin bed sheets that you purchase are made from organic cotton. You don’t want to be cuddling with chemicals while you dream about calculus and epistemology!
- Chill Out: If you and your roommates decide to purchase a mini-fridge for your room make sure it is an Energy Star model. They use up to 50% less energy than traditional models.
- I can see clearly now: Be sure to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for your new desk lamp and stand-up floor lamps. CFLs use 75% less energy and last up to 10x as long as an incandescent bulb. That means not only will you be saving energy
- Dishpan Hands: Choosing re-usable dishes and cutlery over one-use Styrofoam, paper, or plastic can greatly diminish the trash flow leaving your room over the course of the year. Check out local thrift stores to find some really interesting dishware that will set your cereal apart from the crowd. While your at it, find a re-usable coffee mug (hint… hint… This may become your most prized posession during those late night study sessions and early morning Poli Sci classes. AND bringing your own mug earns you a discount on coffee and tea from the on-campus vendors).
- Squeaky Green: Even though your room has been cleaned prior to your arrival, no one would blame you for wanting to give it a once over with a paper towel before you starting moving all your belongings in. Invest in green cleaning supplies that clean using natural and biodegradable substitutes. Not only do they work just as well as the chemical filled kind, they smell alot better too! Not only will the planet thank you, but your nose will too!
These are just a few tips to get you off and running as you move into the dorms! Stay tuned for more easy ways to green your life!