Back to School Guide: The Dorm Edition
Presented by our friend Angeli Duffin from The eBay Green Team
So you have your class schedule finalized, had a great phone conversation with your new roommate, and have been wearing your college hoodie for the past three months. Before you pack up the family hybrid SUV, and head to the nearest big box retailer to pick up matching sheets, towels, bulletin boards, etc., take a minute to think about how you’re setting up your new home. You can greatly change your impact on the environment by putting just a little thought into your purchases. We’re here to help with some Green Team tips on making your college experience as green as can be.
Making the Right Impression:
Express your Green Style – There are more and more sustainable options for organic men’s and women’s jeans, and recycled material fleece jackets (college staples). Or join the vintage trend by hitting up your local thrift shops or eBay for one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.
Wear it Proud – Showing your school spirit shouldn’t have to involve chemical dyes and polyester. Check out Project 571 for eco-friendly college apparel. Not only are their products made from organic cotton, bamboo, or recycled polyester, they also make sure their manufacturers follow fair trade working conditions. See if your school is on their list!
Getting Ready to Learn:
The Necessary Tools – Learning is already getting greener as more students carry their laptop instead of notebooks, and professors put lectures and reading materials online. But if you still love the feel of pen and paper (and it’s ok if you do), make it a recycled notebook and biodegradable pen. To tote your necessities around campus, choose a recyclable Timbuk2 nylon bag, or shop for the perfect vintage messenger bag.
Novels, and Textbooks, and Readers, Oh My – With the 30+ books on your reading list, check to see which are available online and consider investing in an ereader (also much lighter on your back). Look for pre-owned textbooks online or at your school’s local bookstores to save money and trees.
Green Computing 101 - Between note-taking, Wikipedia-ing, and Facebook-ing, your computer will likely log an astonishing number of hours. You can save a meaningful amount of energy by investing in an EPEAT gold rated and Energy Star 5.0 certified laptop like the ASUS UL30A, or the MacBook Air. If you’re ok with last year’s model, consider buying a pre-owned or refurbished MacBook and save a few hundred dollars to put toward snacks for those all-nighters.
On the Go:
Invest in Reusables - If you’re a regular coffee drinker, your reusable coffee mug will pay for itself as cafes often give a discount for bringing your own cup. Carry a BPA-free reusable water bottle, and you’ll save money and resources by avoiding bottled water. If you’re grabbing lunch on the go, skip the plastic fork and knife by carrying your own set of To-Go Ware utensils.
Two Feet or Two Wheels - Keep that freshman fifteen at bay by walking or bringing a bike to school. With your world shrunken down to just a few square miles, biking is a sure way to get from point A to point B in ten minutes or less (and allow you an extra snooze). There are great folding bike options if you’re low on space, or go even greener with a sustainable bamboo bike.
Making a Dorm a Home:
The Good Green Washing - We’re not going to judge if you only do laundry once a month (although your roommate might). But when you finally do, make sure you use eco-friendly, non-toxic detergent and follow our Green Team tips for making laundry as green as can be.
Getting your 10 Hours - If you have the typical dorm room setup, you’ll spend a lot of time in, on, or near your bed. Make it cozy and toxin-free by buying organic cotton or bamboo sheets (yes they come in XL). Complete your nook with natural, organic pillows and an organic cotton duvet cover - trust us, you’ll appreciate being able to wash the cover.
Save Energy - Just because you may not be paying your gas and electric bill doesn’t mean you should leave your lights on for four years. Conserve energy easyily by connecting your electronics into a power strip you can switch off when at class or sleeping. Pass on the halogen lamps of the past and use CFL bulbs or an LED desk lamp. If purchasing a mini fridge, make sure it’s Energy Star certified.
Get Social - Once you know your way around campus, it’s time to get involved. Join (or start) a Green Team on your campus, and get to work making the whole university as green as your dorm room. Not sure where to start? Organize a bike share program for your campus, verify that your cafeteria is composting leftover food, or organize a textbook, furniture, or clothing swap in your dorm!
Show you Care (Parents – This One is For You) - Show your favorite new college student how much you care with some green supplies and treats. Think tasty organic snacks, green cleaning supplies (worth a shot), fair trade chocolate, and all-natural shampoo and conditioner. They can buy the late-night cheesy-sticks themselves.