Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Green your dorm room: your sustainable home away from home

As students around the country move into their dorm rooms they are faced with what often feels like endless decisions on what they should buy and what they need. Price is often the most important factor in what everyone buys with most people believing the cheaper the better. 

Project Green Dorm is an online guide that gives ideas and suggestions for what to buy. Although some of their suggestions can be expensive, the site offers great ideas that can be do-able on any budget. Project Green Dorm gives suggestions for bedroombath and bodycloset (clothing and organization), active clothing and equipment, E-gadgetscleaning suppliesstudy areabreak time, and DIY
Image courtesy of Project Green Dorm

However, even though there are sustainable options that you can buy, the most sustainable is to use things you already have. When you are writing up your list if things you need for the next year, think about if you could buy them used or repurpose something you already have. But most importantly of all, ask yourself if you even need the item. 

When I first moved in my freshmen year I had an endless list of things that I thought would make my life easier or my prison-like room more comfortable. But when I moved out at the end of the year it was shocking to see just how many things I had forgot I had or rarely used. You really will use and need less than you think.

Here are some quick things to remember as you shop and move in:

1. Avoid all objects that are intended to only last a year and then be thrown out. 

2. Do everything you can to avoid plastic. Not only does it harm the environment in its creation and disposal, but it also breaks easily and looks tacky. Filling your room with plastic objects can make your room feel more like your storage unit than your home away from home. 

3. Dorm rooms are tiny (some make prison cells look spacious). Consider if you really need something or not. I recommend packing all clothing, school supplies, bedding, and other items you know you for sure need, and buying things you are unsure about once you move in. Typically the last minute items for me include needing an extra storage device or container.

4. Bring things to put on your walls. Whether it's pictures of friends or something that you kept in your room at home, filling your white walls with visually interesting items that you enjoy can make a big difference in making your room feel like home instead of prison. I recommend wrapping paper, pictures, posters, fabric, or anything else you can blue tape or tack to the wall (if you do not have a bulletin board in your room you can easily buy the little squares and make your own). 

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