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The Green Life: Unique Ways to Green Your College Dorm Room

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August 21, 2013

Unique Ways to Green Your College Dorm Room


Cellphone holder
Sierra’s "Repurpose" column provides step-by-step instructions for making this handy phone holder.
You're all set for your first day at one of our Coolest Schools, and it boasts efficient facilities, respected environmental student groups, and an eminent environmental sciences faculty. But what about the nuts and bolts of maintaining a green lifestyle in your new living quarters, the college dorm?


Simplify your life with environmental style.

College living presents young adults with tests of organization and efficiency on a daily basis. Why not enhance solutions to common problems with a green flair? For example, organizing chargers, cables, and the other manifestations of a digital lifestyle can be challenging —  cut an old plastic bottle in half to make a nifty holder for charging small electronic goods. Consumed with thoughts of midterms, extracurricular activities, and social events, keeping track of keys often becomes an afterthought for college students —  plus, some colleges fine students for misplacing or losing keys. With some wood and old keys, make a key rack to permanently solve this problem.

Start a mini-garden.

Living on the fifth floor of a dorm outfitted with fluorescent lights that reeks of Lysol and body odor can be a dreary experience. Spice things up — literally — by nurturing some plants on your windowsill (or, if you're ambitious, suspend them from the air). Flowers are great, but so are herbs. Fill in the culinary gaps of dining hall cooks by bringing some homegrown herbs to the table. You'll be the talk of the town, and your mystery meat will taste better, too. Dorm room spice gardens make for a trifecta of excellence: tastier food, pleasant aromas, and a pretty room.

Improve your desk area.

Lots of colleges outfit dorms with standard-issue desks, some of which aren't removable. Remedy this by using old goods to add a personal touch to your workspace. Whether you're a bibliophile, Kindle convert, or done with your organic chemistry lecture once and for all, put old books back to work as shelves for trinkets or, you guessed it, more books. Now that you've got a nifty iPhone in your pocket to help you navigate — if you make if off campus at all — weave together old maps to make a basket for desk supplies or garbage. And, even if you've boasted to upperclassmen that you don't miss your parents, keep them in your heart by organizing old pictures in an easy-to-make 3D frame.

Think green when buying basics.

But before you even think of cool, eco-friendly embellishments for your dorm room, be sure your essentials are environmentally sound. Many universities now outfit their dorms with green appliances, so take advantage of CFL-compatible lamps and high efficiency washing machines by purchasing corresponding light bulbs and detergent. Opt for organic cotton sheets and pillowcases, too. Rather than using disposable cups, bring mugs from home or buy a metal water bottle. If you're making more significant purchases like furniture, check out yard sales and thrift shops before buying new products.


--photo by Lori Eanes

Eric01_SMEric Brown is an editorial intern at Sierra. An Eagle Scout who has hiked in Denali National Park and kayaked down the Snake River, Eric thinks the world is worth saving, even if it has given him his fair share of sunburns. In the fall, he will be a senior at Northwestern University's Medill School, where he enjoys writing about music and editing for North by Northwestern.


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