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Simple Sustainable Tips for your Dorm Room

Classes have begun, and pretty soon your new dorm or apartment will begin to feel like home. While move-in week may feel like a distant memory, it takes time to completely settle in.

As you continue to fill up your new home, keep in mind every purchase you make not only costs you, but the environment too.

 One of the top reasons students should try to make a habit of becoming eco-friendly is to save money. Recycling, up-cycling and turning off the power may not feel like a big deal right away, but it will end up saving big bucks.

 While you never see where your trash ends up, every student should become aware of the alarming numbers. Nearly 200 million pounds of textiles are dumped in landfills yearly from dorm rooms alone. 95 percent of this waste could have been recycled (American Textile Recycling Services).

 Vending machines and cheap water bottles are the staples of college life, but “green” products are worth the extra cost. Cosmetics, nail polish, soap, lotions, deodorant and cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals, many of which are known for causing cancer. Chemicals to avoid include, but are not limited to: phthalates, parabens, triclosan, 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide (Breast Cancer Fund).

 These 10 sustainability tips to implement in your dorm room require minimal effort. Changing habits is always a challenge, but trying one or two of these ideas will make a difference and lead you to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

 Buy Local

 You are in a big city, which means there really should not be anything you absolutely have to ship from afar. Shipping not only involves costly transportation but also uses up unnecessary amounts of paper and plastic. Buy local and opt for products that use minimal packaging.

Don’t Shop Impulsively

 Every aisle in Target is stuffed with bright, patterned dorm décor, and it is so tempting. We have all been there. Resist splurging on decorative items you would only use for one school year. If possible, buy used items to prevent extra waste. Shop with a long-term mindset—only spend a lot of money on pieces you are sure to use down the road.

Go Easy On Cords

 Audio engineers, this one is for you too. Use power strips so you can turn off the power on all of your devices. Always unplug laptops, gaming systems, TVs and cellphone chargers from the wall. These items use up energy when they are plugged in, even if they are turned off.


 Always walk a few extra steps to find a recycling bin. Belmont has trashcans labeled “recycling” all around campus. Use a paper shopping bag to place plastic, paper and glass. Nashville has several resources for dropping off recycling. This may seem tedious at first, but it can quickly become a part of your routine.


 Instead of cleaning your room with spray bottles and paper towels, swap the paper towels for scraps of cloth. Cut up old T-shirts to use as cleaning rags. Adding these dirty pieces of cloth to your laundry is much better for the environment than wasting paper towel rolls on a daily basis.

Reusable Bags

 Trips to the grocery store can occur as often as a few times a week. Avoid collecting heaps of plastic bags and bring a reusable tote instead. This will consolidate your groceries anyway.

Turn Off Your Lights

 Remembering to turn off your main light when you leave may seem like common sense, but too many residents leave a string of decorative lights on 24/7. Make sure the switch for light strands and lamps is easy to access when you are on the go.


 Belmont’s bookstore offers e-books in replacement of textbooks. Kindles and Nooks are a great investment for college students to have all of their resources in one convenient place. E-books help the environment by cutting down shipping and saving paper, and they do not require any packaging.

Ride A Bike

 Nashville offers a wonderful perk too many of us have not taken advantage of—you can bike everywhere. Reduce your carbon emissions by biking to a coffee shop or friend’s house instead of depending on your car. If you do not have a bike at school, Nashville’s B-cycle provides access to bike stations all across the city and a free ride as long as you return the bike to a station within an hour.


 Not only is BPA a toxic chemical linked to cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity (Rodale News), but BPA also interferes with the growth and reproduction of humans and animals.

This article was written by Kate Wilke.

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