There are plenty of ways to reduce your resource footprint while in college. Leading a sustainable lifestyle while in the dorm is much easier than you think, and I’m here to provide you with plenty of ways to change up your routines and habits that will help save resources, time and money!
1. Electronic Settings
As college students, most of us utilize our laptops and tablets to do everything from our schoolwork to watching Netflix, which brings a lot of convenience to our lives and uses fewer resources to manufacture than desktops. It’s important to switch your devices into energy saving mode to not only help your battery last longer, but will also help save energy while you’re plugged in. Also, try to avoid falling asleep in front of streaming video: you’re not just wasting energy, but you’re messing up your sleep cycle!
I think something not many people are aware of is that our chargers and small appliances continue to suck up power while they remain plugged in even if they’re off. If you’re looking to not only cut down on wasting electricity (but also reducing your electricity bill) keep these items plugged into a power strip and switch it off each time you leave your dorm.
3. Smart Shopping
When shopping for snacks or other items to stock your mini fridge with, ask for paper bags at the grocery store and not plastic. Better yet, bring your own cloth bags to pack your stuff in. While you’re at it, make sure you pick up a reusable water bottle (there are plenty of cute ones), a water-filtering pitcher and a reusable portable insulated mug. Not only will you save money on bottled water, but you’ll find that many coffee shops offer discounts when you bring your own coffee mug.
4. Buy Locally
This doesn’t just apply to your groceries. Think about what you can purchase once you arrive to school rather than holding that extra weight in your car or paying to ship it, which has a heavier impact than you think.
From clothes to furniture, thrifting is a great way to not only save money but buying second hand is a wonderful method of being sustainable. You never know what treasures you may find, and each item usually has its own unique character to add some spark to your dorm room.
6. Plants, Plants, and more Plants
Rather than buying air fresheners and plug-ins, try plants to improve the air quality in your room and neutralize odors. This will also add some extra life and color to your dorm!
7. Checking Labels
When shopping for new appliances, try and look for the Energy Star label. These appliances save more energy. Make sure to steer clear of products that contain ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFC’s), because these contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer.
8. Conserve Water
This is so simple yet so effective! Simply turning off the water while you brush your teeth or shortening your showers will not only help save water but will lower your bill! Try and only do laundry when you have a full load to do, and it’s best to stick with cold water which will help your clothes prevent shrinkage or transferring dye.
9. Rearrange Furniture
Rather than having all your lights on during the day, cut back on your use of artificial light by rearranging the furniture in the dorm to be closer to a window for the best access of natural light.
10. Reduce Paper Use
I feel that with our growing use of technology, many of us don’t use paper nearly as much anymore, but it’s still extremely important to cut down on paper. Only print out class notes or papers when required and use backs of old print-outs for class notes or class work. Try to use paper products that are 80-100 percent recycled paper, preferably with high post-consumer content.
11. Reuse and Recycle
Buying reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap is another easy way to be sustainable! Focus on buying products with recycled contents and/or recyclable packaging. Make sure you’re separating your trash properly into the different bins, and donate your unwanted furniture, appliances, and clothing so that they may be reused.
Living green in the dorm isn’t challenging. As long as we all do our part in practicing green habits, we can help keep our planet strong and beautiful.