Thank goodness the hot, muggy days of August will soon give way to crisp autumn breezes and cooler temperatures. August also means school bells are ringing. The lazy, carefree days of summer are over and the schoolbooks have been distributed. If you are sending any college students off to live in campus housing, here are some easy ideas they can use to “green up” their dorm rooms or apartments. Encourage those good habits now!
First, dorm rooms and student apartments often are small, cramped and stuffy, so look for ways to maximize storage space by using containers and organizing systems. Try stacking them or stashing them under beds or desks. There are many nice containers and baskets available that are made from recyclable, sustainable or renewable materials.
Whenever possible, let the sunshine in by opening blinds or curtains and using natural light to brighten up a space. When artificial light is needed, use compact fluorescent bulbs to save energy. CFLs use 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescents. They are brighter and last 10 times as long as regular bulbs. Make sure to turn them off when not in use. Using CFLs also will keep the room cooler because they don’t heat up as quickly as incandescent bulbs.
Find out what items can be recycled on campus and get bins or hang bags on hooks near the fridge or the door. Clearly mark the containers so you and/or your roommate(s) can easily collect plastics, aluminum cans and paper for recycling. If the system is simple and convenient, even the most reluctant — or lazy — roommate will recycle.
Use a container water purifier and reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic water bottles.
Get a few reusable shopping bags to use for grocery runs. Plastic shopping bags that accumulate can be reused as trashcan liners or turned in for recycling at many stores like Walmart and Kroger.
Fans can help to keep small spaces cool and they use a fraction of the energy of air conditioners. In fact, a 42-inch ceiling fan on high uses only 2 percent of the energy required for a central air system. It uses only about 8 percent of the energy required for a medium-sized window-unit air conditioner. Even though you’re not paying the utility bill, your efforts will reduce the amount of energy needed.
Take power strips to hook up all electronic devices — laptop, printer, phone chargers, etc. Power strips are energy-efficient. They can easily be shut off while printers, phones, laptops and chargers are not in use. Be sure to unplug individual appliances and even the power strip to reduce phantom energy usage.
To purchase new technology or appliances, first check out energy efficient options online at sites like www.energystar.gov.
Recycle empty ink cartridges.
Use copy paper with recycled content.
Reuse old notebooks or buy new ones that are made with recycled paper.
Buy toilet paper and paper towels with recycled content in them.
Use eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies.
Decorate the room with curtains and bed linens made from natural materials and from free trade sources, if possible.
Oh yes, the last suggestion is to volunteer for an environmentally positive organization, like the Keep America Beautiful affiliate in your college town.
It’s absolutely possible to create an easy, eco-friendly college life and start positive habits that can last a lifetime. Go green!
Mark your calendar for these upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events:
• Saturday, Sept. 25: St. Catherines beach sweep.
• Saturday, Oct. 2: Recycle It! Fair for electronics and household items.
• Saturday, Oct. 23: Fifth Annual Rivers Alive Cleanups.
For more information, call 880-4888 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.