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A Greener Move Back to the Dorms

Even before the semester officially begins one of the first things students must plan is moving into the dorms.

Decisions need to be made on what to bring and strong hands found to haul possessions from place to place.

At the same time thoughts should be given towards making it a greener move so the effects on the environment of thousands of students journeying back to school at once is lessened.

Some considerations include the following:

Bring less stuff: Not only will lightening the load make life easier when moving in (and vacating) but fewer possessions means the vehicle transporting them will use less fuel. Also, since dorms are only temporary settings it’s a good challenge to try and be a creative remodeler who only needs a few items to generate that cozy comfortable feel.

Boxes: Depending on your major there’s sometimes no way out of the extra items required for school. When that’s the case and boxes are needed find used ones instead of buying new. Once everything is delivered and the living space is set up either store them in a secure place for later or recycle them and find others when it’s time to leave. 

Padding: If padding to wrap up fragile things or buffer others is needed use newspaper, junk mail or even clothing and linens. This prevents having to buy materials like bubble wrap.

Carpool: Do you know someone going to the same school? If so sharing a vehicle is something that will limit pollution from exhaust.

Kitchen utensils: The journey to campus can sometimes be long and tiring. Plan to have reusable tableware for eating as it prevents more disposable and non-biodegradable plastics from filling landfills.

Reusable water bottle: Don’t forget to drink water and stay hydrated but do it with a reusable water bottle instead of having to buy water in disposable plastic.

Turn off the gas: On move in day there’s often a wait to get close to the dorm to unload. Whether sharing the journey in a carpool or not if you think the car will be sitting idle for a while shut it off so it’s not constantly burning gas.

Cleaning supplies: Once in a while the space we are moving into still needs a little cleaning. If this is the case in a dorm use rags to wipe things down instead of paper towels. Also, substitute regular cleansers with harsh chemicals for eco-friendly brands.

Purchase second hand: If it’s your impression that the dorm room will need a few more items for it to be complete such as wall art, a couch, or something for the kitchen purchasing second hand is a great way to go green. Sometimes old furniture can be found on the street or at yard sales which can be fixed up, reupholstered, or painted.

Purchase locally: Purchasing second hand is one thing; doing it locally is a further step in the eco-friendly direction. Why? It not only helps the local economy but also lessons emissions when something doesn’t have to be transported from far away. When vacating the dorms these furnishings could be stored with, lent, or sold to other students in the area and reused again the following semester.


Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He writes about eco-friendly topics for professional flooring contractors across the U.S.