5 Ways to Live Sustainably in Dorms

Living sustainably is key to helping our environment. In college, sustainable living can be incredibly hard when you’re confined to a 10x16 foot box with another person. Trust me, I know how hard it is to be sustainable, or even environmentally friendly in dorms. I live with four other women, and we share one bathroom; so, a lot of water and electricity is constantly wasted. But there are still countless ways to stay sustainable in school. Here are just a few of the simple ways to help save our Earth.

1. Turn off all unused lights and appliances when you leave a room.

This one is kind of a given. When you leave a room and the light isn’t being used, turn it off. The same thing can be said for any appliance that is not being used all the time. Unplug those curlers, straighteners, and phone chargers when not in use because they’re still using electricity when plugged in, even if they’re not actually on.

2. Take shorter showers.

I know this one is hard, but it's so important. Hair doesn't need to be washed every day and long hair makes for long showers. So, that's an easy way to cut down your showering time, but taking shorter showers is actually only a small piece of water conservation. Saving water follows a similar pattern as saving electricity: when you’re not using the water, turn it off. So, saving water can be as easy as keeping the faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face. Though crazy things like brushing your teeth in the shower are a possibility, I’m not sure how safe that really is.

3. Host clothing swaps.

We all have unworn clothing sitting in our closets and dressers that are used for dust collection. I know I’m guilty. An easy way to keep these clothes from being thrown away is to host a swap with some friends. Throw a bunch of girls together with tons of free clothes of various styles and sizes and I’m sure you’ll be walking home with some new looks and outfits. This is a really fun way to recycle old and not terribly worn clothes, but another option is donating clothes to places like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or local thrift shops.

4. Reuse everything.

Reduce, reuse and recycle are three words commonly heard with sustainability. I already covered reducing water and electricity, but reusing is just as important. Invest in a reusable water bottle for classes and the gym. Buy cutlery that can be washed and if you have to buy plastic cutlery try to wash it and use it again. I know this may seem odd, but in college not only will this help the Earth, but it will also help your bank account. Plastic utensils just sit in our landfills or even in the giant plastic island in the Pacific. So, while washing dishes can be annoying, if it helps save just a little bit of ocean, it’s worth it. Though while washing those dishes, remember to try to save water at all costs.

5. Recycle

You will be surprised by how many things can actually be recycled. Recycling isn’t only for plastic bottles and papers. All plastic products, paper products, cardboard, metal cans, and glass bottles and jars can be recycled (the list goes on). Specific items like glass and plastic grocery bags can vary based on locations and states. For instance, California has a glass buyback program that will give you a few cents for every glass bottle. Do a little research to make sure your state or school doesn't have a program for composting as well. Composting is essentially the decomposition of organic material. Compostable cups and plates are offered at many schools and these schools generally take back the compostable materials to properly dispose of them. Food scraps are a great example of the kinds of things that are composted. These materials are great for fertilizing plants if you have a home garden and can also help get rid of a lot of the waste in a trash can.

There are so many ways to live sustainably, but in college, this can be tough. Your first thoughts and concerns are making sure your homework is done and you’ve eaten and slept today. The Earth can be one of the last things on your mind, but simple lifestyle changes can help out Mother Nature and take some of her stress away because she deals with it just like us.