» A Guide to Living in the Dorms Sustainably

+ - Move In


Instead of packing items in brand new, purchased boxes from an office supplies store use:

  • Trash bags: They fit in the car better, and you can reuse them later for trash.
  • Suitcases, messenger bags, book bags, etc.: especially if you already plan on bringing them to school, pack your items in your other items you're bringing.
  • Plastic storage containers: you can use them to store things while in the dorms, and in the future as well. 
  • Reused cardboard boxes: Don't buy new boxes, check local businesses, many will give them to you for free. Look in cardboard recycling containers. After you move in, keep the boxes folded up to move out with, or to recycle.

Instead of packing fragile items with harmful, non compostable styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap (as fun as it is) use:

  • Your clothes (the no-waste solution!)
  • Plastic or paper grocery bags (Recycle when done)
  • Re-used newspaper (Recycle when done)

Dorm Living

There are many products that will make your times in residence life more convenient, environmental, and cheaper.

  • A water-filtering pitcher and reusable bottles: Bottled water is outrageously expensive, and contributes extensively to our landfills. Keep the money in your pocket for a rainy day. You'll be glad you did.
  • Reusable plates, cups, silverware and food containers: It is easy to want to use paper plates and plastic utensils for pure convenience, but it's wasteful and inefficient. Durable silverware and plates will last you much longer and won't contribute to landfill waste that also does not degrade. They also keep your food fresh for much longer.
  • Dish soap and sponge: Every room and/or apartment is equipped with a sink, so no need to worry about dirty dishes.
  • At least two hand towels: Don't use paper towels if possible, they're wasteful and expensive.
  • Power stripIt will help you plug in everything in an organized way, and when you leave your room, you can turn off the strip to save energy. (Even when items are turned off, they still draw energy, and a power strip allows you to easily prevent this "phantom power" without having to manually unplug everything).
  • A plantSmall plants are easy to care for, provide oxygen, and brighten up your atmosphere.

And to live environmentally throughout your stay

  • Turn lights off when not in use
  • Wash in cold water, from laundry to hands, to eliminate the energy that is used to heat the water.
  • Turn the water off while brushing teeth and shaving. Running water wastes 1.5 gallons per minute.
  • Turn off and unplug your computer when not in use, and turn your power strips off to reduce "phantom" energy usage.

+ - Move out


When moving out, it is likely that you won't be able to keep everything, and many of those items are useful to others. In the lobby of every residence hall, there will be boxes, categorized for different items that are commonly disposed of. If there is any chance those items are even slightly usable, place them in their designated categories, which are:

  • Linens/Clothes
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Electrons and Electronic Waste of Any Kind
  • Food
  • Hangers/School Supplies