A More Sustainable Dorm Life

By Kieran Maloney

Living in Bailey Hall and being surrounded by RISE students, we’re finding new way to live more sustainably every day, especially in the dorms. But, not all dorm buildings, or universities, are as fortunate as we are. I mean, we can compost in our rooms… how cool is that? But since we haven’t made this available to all students at MSU just yet, here are some more tips to a more sustainable dorm life:

1. Unplug while you’re not using

I think we’re all guilty of leaving our phone chargers or lamps plugged in 24/7, but think about the bigger picture! You’re only using that probably an hour out of your day and compare that to an average week, you could substantially reduce your waste. Also, try not to turn on a whole power strip just to use one plug.

2. Reuse

Although this is a broad topic, think of the disposable objects you use everyday and how much of it will end up in a landfill. Little changes like using a washable hand towel instead of paper towels makes a big difference. Invest in washable silverware and bowls for in-dorm use. Drink your morning coffee in a reuseable cup, make a quilt out of old clothes, don’t leave for Meijer without a reuseable shopping bag, and buy used textbooks and supplies. By reusing or repurposing things you or friends already have, you cut down on waste and save a load of money that can go towards food and that 3 a.m. Uber.

3. Shop more sustainably

Rather than cafeteria food, think more sustainably when grocery shopping. Look for what is in season, locally grown, organic, and fair trade. It can be better for you, and the environment! Before buying clothes, think of what you already have in your wardrobe, or check a thrift shop first. The ‘Good On You’ app is also a good tool to help source where your clothes came from based on brand.

4. Air-dry laundry

Using the floor laundromat is a drag to begin with; why lengthen the time you spend waiting around for the dryer when Mother Nature can take care of it for you? Foldable drying racks are great for your dorm and can be slid easily into your closet after use. Dryers can use up to 90% of laundry energy, and air-drying is a simple, energy-saving alternative.

5. Know your stats

It’s easy to say that living sustainably is important, but actually doing it is another story. Finding motivation can easily be lost in retrospect of studying, socializing, keeping up with your own health, and hobbies. Shocking statistics show the importance of sustainable living and if everyone did their part, the result could be world changing! Here are some shocking statistics published by Boston College that will make you think twice about the size of your carbon footprint:

  • The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.
  • The average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, including 500 disposable cups and 320 pounds of paper.
  • Americans comprise about 5% of the world’s population and annually produce 27% of the world’s garbage.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as does burning it.
  • We throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.
  • Glass bottles take 4,000 years to decompose.
  • One quart of motor oil can contaminate 2 million gallons of fresh water.
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