Creating a green college dorm room is responsible, easy to do, and doesn’t have to break the bank. As recycled products become more the norm (driving down the cost), it is easier than ever to deck out your room with practices and products that are easier on the environment.
1. Green linens. Ten to 15 years ago, “recycled bedding” meant using sheets and blankets that once belonged to a sibling or a great aunt. Today, virtually any kind of bedding can incorporate sustainable design. Some companies such as Eden Textile use peroxide rather than chlorine bleach in their processes. Yarn fiber waste becomes material that’s used for pillow cushion stuffing. From duvets to sheets to pillows, your entire bedding can be comprised of recycled products. Some pillows are even made of recycled water bottles! In addition, companies such as Cool Planet sell towels that are made of spun fiber. You can also find rugs that are made of recycled materials.
2. Eco-friendly laundry products. Look for toxin-free, earth friendly products to store in your room. To reduce the amount of laundry you’ll need to do (and minimize water consumption), sort your dirty laundry into bins that are concealed in a closet. The more organized your laundry is, the less chance it will end up on the floor and the less frequently you will need to wash it.
3. Consider composting. If your college has an agricultural department, they may have a program in which you can give them fruit and vegetable peels if you eat a lot of fresh produce. To avoid annoying your roommate with the smell of rotting fruit, keep the compost material in a bin outdoors and make sure the bin is covered.
4. Recycled Decorations. Rather than purchase new posters or other decorations, look for a corkboard or fabric mat at a thrift store or garage sale and build a collage of photos and other art. Look for recycled glass containers and decorative baskets at thrift stores.
5. Non-disposable plate ware and silverware. Sure, you’ll do more dishes but you’ll reduce landfill materials and will set a good example for your friends.
6. Smart water storage. Replace plastic water bottles with a PVC-free water canister.
7. Recycling and garbage receptacles. Of course, the obvious way to make your college room green is to provide a recycling receptacle (or two). College students go through a glut of paper. To make sure that your roommate and guests use the recycling receptacle properly, provide a bottle receptacle and a recycled garbage can alongside the recycling bin. Cool Planet offers a very cool garbage can called the “thrash can”. Not only is it durable to last four years of college, it’s made from 99% recycled automobile tires.
8. Green transportation options. If you own a bike, set aside ample space for it in your room. If you ride the bus, create a “bus bag” that includes your bus pass, an umbrella, reading material, cash, emergency water, and a snack.
9. School supplies. Stock up on recycled paper, binders, and notebooks for your classes. There are even pens made of recycled materials.
10. Daylighting and ventilation. Rather than throw on the overhead light during the day or the AC when it gets hot, consider maximizing the daylight and fresh air in your room by opening blinds and windows.
Living green is not hard to do. Creating a green dorm room will remind you (and others) that the environment is our business and that living green is a vital component of living in the world today.