Though a single person’s footprint is incredibly minimal compared to massive coal-burning power plants and other large-scale operations, even small efforts are key in implementing change. And where better to start than a building full of students, who can influence each other to take up the cause?
Here are some tips for going green in your dorm room.
Energy Efficient Lights are a "Bright Idea." Though university facilities and maintenance chooses and installs overhead dorm lights, you have control over additional lighting -- and there are plenty of environmentally friendly lamp, desk light, and added fixture options that will lessen your carbon footprint. Incandescent light bulbs, the cheapest and most common option, heat an internal wire to produce light; they're not very energy efficient, so choose other bulbs instead.
- CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) reduce the amount of energy needed to create light by heating gasses inside a tube and are a better option.
- LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), which heat a semiconductor to produce light, are even more efficient; though pricier, they offer comparatively minimal heat loss.
- Halogen bulbs require up to 30 percent less energy than a incandescent light.
Another option to consider is natural light, especially during the summer and early fall. Open your curtains or raise your blinds in the morning, and leave them up and open until the sun goes down; you’ll find you don’t need any added light for the majority of the day.
Recycle. Set aside a separate waste bin for recyclable items, and clearly identify it to avoid confusion with regular garbage. Most schools have a single-stream recycling system, which can take in paper products (newspapers, magazines, notebook paper, and old tests, quizzes and assignments), plastic products (rinsed-out soda bottles, beer cans, and plastic cups), and metal products (clean aluminum foil and metal jars). Yes, you can even recycle those red Solo cups, so after your hangover subsides, take a few minutes to wash them out and save them from the trash.
Clean Your Air Filters, and Turn Down the Temp. If you have an accessible air conditioning or heating unit, add cleaning it to your list of room chores. Keeping the unit lint-free will ensure maximum performance and use less energy (not having extra dust in the air will also help your nose). And resist the urge to crank up (or down) the temperature: Save energy by setting the unit to ordinary room temperature, and wear a light sweater in the winter and tank top in the summer.
Reuse. Avoid using paper plates, plastic utensils, and Styrofoam cups; instead, purchase ceramic dishes, Tupperware bowls, and metal silverware, which will be reusable for years. Washing dishes is a pain, especially in (potentially grimy) common room sinks, but you'll be reducing the amount of waste in landfills.
Neglect Your Laundry. Yes, I'm giving you permission to not wash your clothes that often. Reduce the overall amount of water and detergent you use by filling up that washer. If you're scared of your favorite white t-shirt coming out not-so-white, combine loads of laundry with your roommates instead of mixing lights and darks.
Keep the Cold Air Out. Cracks and leaks in a window can reduce the effectiveness of heating and air conditioning units. In the summer, cold air can escape through a crack, forcing the unit to run longer and harder to keep the room at your desired temperature, so borrow a caulk gun and seal them up. In the winter, cover your windows with plastic.
How do you go green in your dorm?
About Lacey -- With a passion for liberal arts and an addiction to excessive writing, I somehow ended up at a business school. I currently attend Bentley, where I plan to major in economics and finance. In an attempt to hang on to my true devotion, I write for the news section of the Vanguard. For me, the greatest thrill of the job is conducting interviews and listening intently as people reveal their stories.
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