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Greening the Dorm Room This Year

Green dorm roomsWith the new academic year just about to begin it’s time to start thinking about how college and university students can make a greater difference when it comes to improving the environment and one place they can all start with together is in the dorm. 

After all, some dorms have so many students the amount of waste produced by those buildings alone is tremendous and it’s not only physical trash that’s the problem. The waste includes utilities and how they are used inefficiently.

That being the case, the following are a few suggestions for greening dorm life up a notch.

1.    Recycle: Whether it’s snack time, meals, or just needing a refreshing drink the things we consume generally come with some type of packaging. For this reason each dorm floor should have its own recycling station so everything that applies can be sorted and disposed of appropriately. 

2.    Conserve water: A major drought has taken hold of part of the U.S. in recent years which means water conservation is extremely important. Dorm residents should be encouraged to take shorter showers and close the faucet between brushing teeth and rinsing when water isn’t necessary.

3.    Resourceful heating: Universities are known for blasting heat in dorms during the winter, so much so that students often open the windows. This no doubt raises the cost of energy and puts a lot of stress on heating systems. If students banded together they could ask administrations to readjust the thermostat and plan to wear more layers.

4.    Better lighting: Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) provides savings, cuts down on pollution from electric companies, and chances are you may not have to change the bulb all year. 

5.    Reusable tableware: Opportunities for reusing come up all the time in dorm life, especially with reference to food. Making disposable tableware a thing of the past is one way to set reusing in motion. 

6.    Eco-Cleaners: Ok, whenever a lot of people live in close proximity cleanliness is important so germs don’t spread. At the same time chemical based cleansers do a lot of harm to the environment which is why they should be substituted for more eco-friendly ones. Doing so will also leave healthier odors rather than noxious fumes.  

7.    Cut out plastic: Students should be encouraged to uproot plastic disposables from their lives as much as possible. For instance, carrying around a reusable water bottle for both hot and cold drinks cuts down on the need for disposable plastic bottles and cups when purchasing takeout. Having a reusable bag or two to haul home groceries cuts down on some of the billions of plastic grocery bags taken out of supermarkets every year.  

8.    Line dry: Whenever possible students should line dry their clothing instead of using dryers which drain a lot of electricity. 

9.    Greener moving: When moving in or out don’t buy new packing materials if they are needed. Collect used boxes and utilize clothing or things like your neighbor’s old newspaper to wrap and pad belongings which need better care. 

10.    Buy local: For fruits and vegetables, furniture, artwork, and everything else under the sun that students living in dorms need, buy local. It supports the local economy, creates a good relationship between the school and local community, and most of all cuts down on the carbon footprint created when things are shipped long distances.  


Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs about green topics for pros across the U.S. like Stockton, CA, electricians and plumbing contractors in Saint Petersburg, FL.