Back to School Shopping Madness 2: What an Environmentally Concerned College Student Should be Taking to the Dorm

sigg bottleLast week, I wrote about the Back to School Shopping Madness that leads families to spend an average of $527.08 on back to school things. While the average family may be spending over $500, the average college freshman spends $1285 getting ready to move into the dorm. Much of that is spent on items they already have at home and would be able to take the dorm. The new stuff is not necessary.

But there are some things that college students could be taking with them that will help them live a more sustainable life while in the dorms. If you must shop, think about picking up these items (unless you have them already of course – then resist the urge to buy new ones).

Power strips for your electrical devices – College students are going to have computers, printers, mobile phone chargers, and other electrical appliances that draw power even when they aren’t in use. Bringing enough power strips to handle all your devices will make it easy to turn them all off when not in use.

Travel coffee mugs with lids – If a college student hasn’t discovered coffee yet, chances are he or she will by finals time. A few durable travel mugs can save hundreds of paper/styrofoam cups over a semester. Don’t just use them for coffee taken from the dorm room. If you go to a coffee house, take it with you.

Reusable water bottles -Plastic bottles with lids, or better yet stainless steel bottles (such as SIGG or Kleen Canteens), are easy to carry around – most backpacks now have a place just for water bottles. Not only will it help save a lot of disposable water/beverage bottles, it will save the user a ton of money, too.

Reusable shopping bags – Taking a few canvas totes, Chico Bags (my personal favorites), or 99 cent grocery shopping bags will keep a whole lot of plastic bags out of landfills – take a few extra for roommates who didn’t think to bring any.

A water saving shower head – If you have a semi-private bathroom that is just shared between a few roommates or suite mates, you probably can change out the shower head with no problem.

CFL bulbs – I honestly can’t remember if we had to supply our own lightbulbs in the dorms or not. But, even if a college supplies the bulbs, chances are they won’t be CFL’s. If there are already bulbs in your dorm room, change them for CFL’s and give the old bulbs back to maintenance.

A can for recyclables – Separate recyclables from trash right in the dorm room and you’ve got a much better chance of actually recycling them.

A bicycle – Even if a college student has a car, there’s no reason it needs to leave the dorm parking for short trips. Taking a bicycle can save fuel and perhaps a few of those “freshmen fifteen” pounds that creep up from late night study binges.

By carting these items to the dorm room instead of brand new matching comforters and pencil holders, a college student can live more sustainably away from home and set an example for other students.

Okay, your turn, what else should be on this list?

Read More:

College: Ditch the Four Wheels, We’ll Give You Two

Maine University Tries Out River Ferry as Low-Carbon Transportation Alternative

  1. abbie

    goodwill! they always have good deals on furniture/plates/flatware …. reuse and search for stuff to reuse before going to stores and buying new! also check out free stuff on craigslist and garage sales you can scavenge!

  2. Robin Shreeves

    Those are all great ideas and I do all of them, although I’ve found lately that the prices for furniture at Good Will have gotten rather pricey – at least around me. Yard sales, freecyle and Craigslist are a better bet for a bargain.

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