As the end of summer unfortunately creeps up on us, graduated high school students across the United States are preparing to embark on the next chapter of their education…college! This step often means leaving the nest and trying to fit your entire life in a tiny dorm room. During the packing process it’s easy to forget your green conscience and get caught up in the back to school hype of buying everything brand new. The school year splurge is bad for the environment because it increases the amount of materials manufacturers must use to put more products on the shelves including packaging, building materials and energy for shipping. In order to keep your green self in check, below are 5 tips on how have a more eco-friendly start to the school year.
1) Make a list and see what you already have
Before heading out to go shopping make a list of all the things you think you need for school. Go over the list with someone at home and see what you already have. Running through your list with another set of eyes, will be helpful to make sure you are accounting for everything that you are able to take with you from home. This will be friendly for your wallet and reduce the amount of packaging waste that comes along with purchasing a new product.
2) Check Craigslist
If you are looking for any type of furniture to bring with you, before heading out to Target, see what’s on Craigslist around your school. You’d be surprised at how cheap former college students or your new neighbors are giving away their lightly used furniture for. You’ll be doing a good deed by taking the unwanted furniture off their hands and keeping eco-friendly by saving it from a nearby landfill.
3) Research your appliances
One of the first conversations you’ll have with your new roommate is “So, are you bringing the fridge or am I?” If you are given the assignment to bring any appliances, make sure that they are Energy Star certified or have some type of eco-friendly certification. This tip also goes for buying another large college investment, your computer. Buying energy conscience appliances will help you save energy all year long.
4) Buy local
If moving to your college means traveling across the country (or world) you should consider buying, what you can’t bring from home, locally. This will be helpful for two reasons: 1) you won’t have to keep track of so many bags and 2) you will cut down on fuel pollution that will result as a part of your move. If you would like to order your supplies before hand, order them on line from a retailer that allows you to pick up your order at location near your school. During my college move, in the United States, I did this once with Bed, Bath and Beyond and once with Wal-Mart. Towards the end of the online check out process they give you the option to select “Deliver to a store near me”. After selecting this option you head to that store location when your order is ready and all of your items will be waiting for you. This type of shipment will arrive at the store through the most direct route with another shipment and cut down on the energy needed to deliver your order.
5) Bring a bike
One of the biggest sacrifices a student makes when heading off to school is losing the freedom of having a car. Often times undergraduate housing won’t allow freshmen to have a car on campus until they are older anyway. Since a car is out of the question, see if you can buy a bike off of Craigslist or, if it’s not too difficult, bring your bike from home. This will give you a means of transportation and a way to explore your new environment. Another alternative to buying a bike, is to see if your new hometown has a bike share program, like the one coming to New York City. Often times these programs will charge you one flat rate for the year. It may be a little pricey to join at first but you will never have to worry about where to store your bike during the winter or when to bring it in for maintenance.
We hope that you enjoyed our tips on how to move in as an eco-friendly freshman. These are only a few ways to start your college career on a smaller carbon footprint. If you have any other green dorm room suggestions, feel free to comment below and share them with us. We would love to hear how the class of 2016 is staying green!