|It isn't always easy being green. Life with your parents only gives you so much power to change things. But when you are moving to university for the first time, you have the opportunity to determine your own living conditions and prioritize green living in your dorm.
Going green in your dorm is not only environmentally responsible, but it also can save you money since most green strategies involve recycling items and limiting waste. Even if you aren't much of an environmentalist, consider these green strategies to make your time in the dorm cheap, clean, and efficient.
Ask your university about green housingGoing green starts with the dorm's basic architecture and utilities. These are things you probably can't change once you move in, but some universities offer specifically green dorms for students interested in being environmentally responsible. These dorms usually use greener utilities, or use them more efficiently, and employ other green practices like using energy efficient lighting and recycling water.
Use recycled furnitureYou're just moving into your dorm for a few months, so you don't need the finest furniture money can buy. If you have some free second-hand furniture from your parents, it is best to use that. It is never green to buy things that you don't really need. If your parents can't spare any furniture, ask around or look on Craigslist for cheap or free used furnishings.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbsReplace old light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Those fluorescent bulbs spread light more efficiently and save power.
Limit your A/C useIf your dorm doesn't have a built in air conditioning system, you or your roommate may use a window unit. Window units are very wasteful and harmful for the environment. If you must use one, or even if you are using the school's built in A/C, be sure to only have it on when absolutely necessary. Turn it off whenever nobody is in the dorm or when you aren't feeling particularly hot.
Share appliances with your roommateYou don't need two mini-fridges, two microwaves, or two TVs for two people. Share energy-sucking appliances with your roommate to avoid being wasteful.
Use Energy Star appliancesAny appliances you use should be designed to be energy efficient. Look for the Energy Star label on any appliance you plan on buying or using.
Avoid disposable plates, cups, and utensilsIt may be more convenient to use disposable plates, cups and utensils, but it isn't very environmentally or financially responsible. Dishes, silverware, and china all are reusable and waste less money and resources than constantly buying and throwing out paper and plastic products.
Keep an indoor plantNothing says "green" quite like a living plant. A plant is cheap decor for your room, but it also helps clean the air and gives you an excuse to let natural light into the room.
Use community refrigeratorsSome dorms have community refrigerators. It may be tempting to forgo the community in favor of having your own mini-fridge, but if you don't want to waste power, communal is the way to go. You may even get some extra exercise by walking out of your dorm to the fridge.
Insulate your windows and bundle up during winterHeat is usually included in your dorm room. Keep the school from wasting too much money, water, and oil on you by keeping your thermostat low and your room well insulated. Add some extra padding around the windows during winter and be sure to remove air conditioning units that may have been there in the summer. Add layers to your clothing when it gets cold before deciding to crank up the heat.
Look for organic alternativesYou may want to use household products that contain fewer harmful chemicals and require no pesticides to produce. That means you need to buy organic. Here are some organic alternatives:
- organic cotton sheets
- carpets made of natural fibers
- natural air fresheners
- organic deodorant
- natural soap
- recycled toilet paper
- organic food