My last child is about to start her senior year in college. Over the years I have noticed colleges getting greener and instigating some innovative practices to help the environment, but there are lots of things students can do individually to reduce carbon emissions and lead a greener lifestyle.

Image by jeremy.wilburn

Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste.  The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are not always available.  Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff.  Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less.  When you do buy new things, buy them locally at school and avoid shipping.  Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets!  For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on line at or

Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.  Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.  Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.  Install CFL light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.

Instead of stocking up on water bottles, use a BPA free water bottle instead.  For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.

Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes (forget disposable ones) or cleaning your dorm room.  Houseplants make great air filters and improve air quality.

Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own.  Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them.  Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.

Of course, print on recycled paper and recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!

Some information compiled from and







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