By Stephanie Businelli
Congratulations! You fought through your SATs, got your diploma, and are now heading towards “the best four years of your life,” more commonly known as college. If you’re a student who plans to live on campus, now is the time to start shopping for your new home, one that will be entirely yours (with the sole exception of that roommate you’ve been getting to know over Facebook this summer). While you’re buying supplies that will make your dorm reflect the uniqueness that is you, don’t forget to keep your permanent home – planet Earth – in mind. Making your dorm ‘green’ may seem as impossible as fitting all of your worldly possessions into that tiny room, but it doesn’t have to be! Try asking yourself these questions while you shop for your college dorm essentials:
- Can you buy it used? Head to a consignment store before you rush into major purchases. Many items on your list (especially larger ones like furniture) can be found secondhand at a lower price while keeping that “just as good as new” quality.
- Is it reusable? Rather than buying single-use items, buy those that have a longer shelf life. A single glass plate can replace countless paper ones that ultimately end up in the trash.
- Does the company promote sustainability?While shopping, look for brands that make green products. EPA has programs that can help you shop and live green, including ENERGY STAR, Water Sense, and Design for Environment.
- Is it made of recycled materials? Create a recycle ripple effect by buying supplies that use recycled materials. Your purchase will encourage manufactures to make more of these recycled-content products available and help conserve our precious natural resources.
- Is it locally produced? Products made locally require less transportation, requiring less fuel use and reducing their overall environmental impact. Not to mention, you‘ll be supporting businesses in your community!
EPA estimates that 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of food and goods. By making your dorm green (in practice – color is completely optional), you’re working towards a more sustainable future. Your actions can have a huge effect! For more information and additional ideas check out Think Green Before You Shop.
About the author: Stephanie Businelli is a biological basis of behavior major and environmental studies minor at the University of Pennsylvania. As an intern for the EPA Communications Services Staff in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, she likes to brainstorm green dorm ideas she wishes she had known as a freshman. She’s currently offering a hefty reward for the first person to create a (environmentally-friendly) time machine.