Paint Your Dorm "Green"

By Liz Lavin, Contributing Writer for
Posted on Sunday 4th January 2009

As a college student, you probably think you can’t go green. You don’t have a big enough income to contribute enough to make a difference, right? Wrong. Even the smallest changes can make a big impact on the planet. And one of the best times to go green as a college student is when you’re shopping to decorate your dorm.

If you’re really serious about going green, you’ll look for a college or university that has made efforts to go green in their living quarters, with dorms that sport solar panels and recycled materials. But while those schools do exist, there are still plenty of colleges that haven’t implemented such eco-friendly features.

Decorating your dorm room is one of the most important parts of going to school. College is supposed to be your home away from home, and one of the best ways to make a home away from home…is to bring “home” with you!

Recycle and Reuse to Save
One of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to have an eco-friendly dorm is to recycle. If that old chair or sofa has been sitting in storage in your house for years, take it with you to school.

If your parents or friends don’t have any goods they’re looking to get rid of, buy them second-hand. Vintage products are very “in” today, so not only will you still be in style, you’ll be in style at a very low price.

If second-hand furniture and hand-me-down goods aren’t your thing, be a bargain shopper. These products won’t burn a hole in your wallet and they’re reusable, so you’ll be saving while you spend:

  • For your bedding, go for organic cotton sheets and comforter. You can get them for a reasonable price at West Elm, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target. Also, remember that organic products are high-quality and will last as long as you need them to. When you buy organic bedding for your first year of school, it will last you all four years and more.
  • If you have your own bathroom, you can get PEVA shower curtains at Ikea for less than $10. PEVA is a safe alternative to PVC vinyl, which is the most damaging plastic for the environment. Vinyl shower curtains release harmful carcinogens into the air during production, but PEVA shower curtains come chlorine- and carcinogen-free for an affordable price.
  • If you have to buy your own bathroom accessories, make sure to stock up with organic towel sets and robes. Remember, organic cotton is durable, high quality and best of all, comfortable.
  • When using electronics in your dorm, be mindful of the electricity you may be wasting. Don’t leave your computer or TV on overnight, turn off your surge protector and unplug appliances when they’re not in use, turn off the lights when you leave a room, and just take shorter showers. Small changes like these go a long way towards saving energy and, if you’re living in an apartment, keeping your bills low.
  • You can still go organic when it comes to decorating your dorm, suite, or apartment. Shop thrift stores for unique picture frames, pen and pencil holders, wall decorations or makeup and accessory holders. Take the extra step by buying fairly traded goods from Global Exchange.

It’s cheap and easy to make your home away from home ‘green’. Whether it’s buying Fair Trade items or making saving energy a priority, college is a great place to implement healthy, eco-friendly changes in your life. For more tips on how to make your life more ‘Green’, take a look at’s Lifestyle Guide.

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