You’ve got a lot on your mind when setting up a dorm room. Obviously, there’s the dynamic with your new roommate to manage, with fingers crossed that he isn’t some weirdo or kleptomaniac. But once you see he’s not a serial killer it’s time to get the room situated. Want to do something different than all the other folks on your floor? Instead of the bad music posters and neon brewery advertisements, focus on environmental sustainability. It’s become an important focus at colleges across the country, and will set you apart. It might even save you money as well. Here are five ways students can go green in their dorm room.
First of all, switch out all of the old lightbulbs. There’s a chance your school has done this already, but if not make sure that the traditional lightbulbs are changed for the modern bulbs that last far longer. You can choose your lighting color as well, so that you have a soothing, natural tone in the room instead of that terrible fluorescent your room started out with. Recycle the old bulbs for some green bonus points.
Next, ditch the printer and do everything electronically. One of the biggest resource wastes at school is paper. All of the notebooks you use in class and the random printouts of directions and emails add up, taking out whole groves of trees. Open up a cloud storage account and do everything through your laptop and mobile devices. Use apps and a tablet to take notes in class, and move everything from device to device as you need. It will take an initial hardware investment, but the money you save in ink cartridges and paper over the four years will more than make up for it.
Now you should take a look at how you handle waste overall in your dorm room. If your floor has a recycling room make sure you take advantage. But if not, have separate bins in your dorm room for garbage and the various types of recycling. If you have a kitchenette or frequently make meals in your room consider a compost bin. Modern composting is contained and clean, and won’t smell up your room like previous efforts. And definitely recycle old batteries and computer equipment, and donate gently used clothing and shoes instead of just throwing them away.
So what about energy usage in your dorm room? Whenever possible purchase equipment that is Energy Star certified, so that your TV, DVD player, gaming system and refrigerator aren’t wasting resources. In addition, plug everything into power strips that manage output. That way they will automatically power things down when not in use. Unplug everything that you can when you leave the room, and place any additional lighting on timers so you don’t ever forget to turn them off.
Finally, consider the furniture you bring in there. Portland State University and other green schools will utilize upcycled pieces, but some schools require you to bring your own stuff. Try to repurpose what you already have to fit the space, instead of buying all new stuff. But if you must, purchase pieces made of natural materials, and buy local whenever you can. Transporting goods brought from overseas leaves a huge carbon footprint, and wherever you live you should be able to find solutions close at hand.