Summer is coming to an end and that signifies one surefire thing….the school year is upon us. If your family is getting ready to send a son or daughter to college, this can be an even busier and emotional time. However, by ensuring your children can experience the familiarity of home in a dorm room, this transition can be made a little more smoothly. Wendy Martinenas, an associate in our Fairfield, Connecticut office, provides some wonderful green tips to help students enjoy a healthy and productive next four years in their dorms! For more of Wendy’s savvy home-living tips, please visit her blog.
I blog about green living in the home and a dorm room is someone’s home too. Sustainability continues to be first and foremost on the minds of young people ranging from simple awareness to activism. So why not enable your college student to make their own contribution? Most college buildings are old and do not offer the advantages that green buildings do. So when I went to visit colleges, I was happy to see that almost every school touted more than one LEED certified Building. While we cannot control a university’s building practices we can make an impact simply by how we live in those buildings regardless of whether they are LEED certified or not.
The University of Virginia sets a great example by displaying green dorm rooms to inspire incoming freshman. In this case buildings were not identified as being energy efficient or health oriented in any way. Instead, rooms are staged with energy efficient and sustainable products.
When my daughter, Steph went to college she took eco-friendly cleaning products and laundry detergent. She opted for reusable plates and silverware in order to keep trash to a minimum. She took a Brita pitcher to filter water and has a collection of reusable cups and bottles for all kinds of situations. She has a regular water bottle, a water bottle with a built-in filter, a coffee cup, a thermos for coffee on-the-go and regular cups for use in the room. All of this was an extension of what she already did at home. These things are easy to buy. It’s the change in behavior that may not be so easy. However, all it takes is persistence and the desire to make the change.
That was last year and in evidence that going green is a process, I find myself impressing on Steph the reason for unplugging appliances when not in use, with the iPhone charger being the biggest culprit. Why because every time you leave an appliance plugged in to the wall when it is not being used energy still flows to it and its pure waste. In fact vampire energy accounts for up to 10% of a typical homes electric bill. So in a small dorm room, when its more than likely challenging to reach the outlet, consider plugging appliances into an easily accessible power strip that you can turn on and off. This could be great for TVs, printers, lamps and microwaves.
Being green also means paying attention to potential health consequences of our actions. So it’s a good idea to shield your self from the toxicity of not only traditional cleaning products but also electronic devices. That means instead of putting your laptop directly on your lap, put something like a pillow between it and your body. Also don’t sleep with your phone right next to you in your bed. At least put it on your nightstand.
Project Green Dorm has a look-book of specific products you can buy ranging from cool organic cotton clothing to recycled lap top cases. They offer a green checklist with suggested brands, encourage the green lifestyle with tips and even inject some spirituality into it. They suggest 30 minutes of downtime per day by connecting with the natural world perhaps with some yoga. I love that!
So if you have a college bound student in your home, think about jumping on the bandwagon and enabling your child to outfit their room in a green fashion. So many Universities and students today tout the benefits of living an eco friendly way, they will be downright trendy. Steph goes to UCONN and I was happy to see that the Sierra Club Ranks UCONN Among Top 10 ‘Cool Schools’for Environmental Efforts. Remember that being green is making a contribution on any scale that makes sense in the situation and that is comfortable for you.