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Greening Your Dorm Room – part 1 of 2

Posted May 02 2010 12:00am

Your room may not be that neat, but you can make it green! The first “room of your own” is an ideal time to create green habits, and demonstrate a healthy lifestyle for your dorm mates. Whether it’s practicing energy and waste conservation or sprucing up your space with eco-interiors it makes a difference.

What is “Green”? The best definition of Green refers to the health impacts quality of life, and minimizing the total environmental impacts. That said, going Green are primarily ways to save money, increase comfort and create healthier environments for people to live and work, using improved indoor air quality, natural daylight, and thermal comfort. Here are some tips for greening your dorm room. Pick one or a couple to do for a month or so – once they become a party of your daily habits, add some more.

  • Buy less stuff - Consider is you really need something before you buy. Check out the Story of Stuff on the web  – in 20 minutes it explains the cradle to grave idea that has changed the world.
  • Reuse creatively – Decorate with your own found or crafted items. Be crafty and make your own paper wall tiles, shades for your window and for privacy a screen.  Making a rag rug lowers your stress level while making sure you don’t have VOC’s (volatile organic compounds)off gassing from your new carpet.
  • Buy local- Look for local stuff, for example, on free-cycle, craigslist and even better start a listing on your own campus. Don’t send your stuff across the country and add to your carbon footprint.
  • Trade, barter and give it all away- Someone has what you need, and you probably have what someone else needs. When you leave, recycle your decor and everything else. Remember that old adage, less is more.
  • No paper should end up in the trash – Recycle and use recycled paper, double side or even better don’t print out at all.
  • Nix the mini fridge - Going without a fridge is best, but if you really can’t go without your own cold juice, sharing an Energy Star mini fridge and then keeping it full and clean will save energy.
  • Nix the AC - Use a fan instead. Be sure to clean your fan using a wet rag to take off all those black and dirty particles that would otherwise end up in your lungs.
  • Use less appliances- The less appliances, the better; but if you are sure you will starve in the night, rice cookers and stainless steel electric kettles can be energy efficient.
  • Get smarter-  For those rechargers and all those appliances you can not give up, plug them into a smart power strip that will help avoid all those energy vampires or phantom loads (electrical productsTVs to microwave ovens to air conditionerscannot be switched off completely without being unplugged, thus drawing power 24/7 using “standby power.”) Typical American dorm products are constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use and therefore are a big part of America’s carbon footprint. Smart power strips have come down in price, are fun to use and can save you up to 15% of your footprint.

Look out for the second part of this blog shortly!

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