Whether you’re new to college or back again for another year, move-in time is always a little bit stressful. It’s understandable that you want your space to be cozy and comfortable during the school year. However, that doesn’t mean going on a decor shopping spree. This year, choose to decorate and live in your space sustainably. Not sure how? This guide will help you out.
I know it’s tempting to go on outings with your parents or friends to jump on all the back-to-school sales, but that may not be the most sustainable choice. Dorm furniture advertised in stores isn’t really made to last, and a lot of it gets thrown out at the end of each school year. You may have heard of fast fashion and its effects on the environment, but fast furniture is just as bad. It’s really hard to recycle or repurpose furniture because there are often many different materials used in one object. This includes upholstery, wood and plastic.
Most dorms are already well-equipped with a sturdy bed, desk, chair and some storage space. I’d suggest taking a look at your space before buying any major pieces of furniture just so you know what will fit.
If you’re worried about dorm essentials running out by the time you inspect your space, I’ve got a solution for you — buying secondhand furniture is a great option. It expands the life cycle of an item by giving it a new life, and it’s usually much cheaper than buying brand new.
Websites such as Facebook Marketplace and Depop are great for connecting with sellers about prices and transportation. It even adds a more personal touch to your purchase, as sellers are often excited to see their beloved pieces find a new home. Even just by walking down the streets of Berkeley in the spring and summer, you can find great, intact pieces of furniture students left up for grabs after leaving college.
A big part of moving into your new home at college is dealing with homesickness, and one way to combat this is bringing some of your old home to your new one. This means taking some treasured items or decorations with you and displaying them to remind you of home. Plus, you won’t need to spend more money on new decorations because you’ll be repurposing old favorites. It’s a great way to maximize your resources and expand the lifespan of items.
If you do want to add a new twist to your college environment, I’d suggest investing in some plants. Plants not only add vibrancy to a space, but they improve air quality and can reduce your risk of getting sick (which is great for dorms) as well. A study from Water, Air, and Soil Pollution found that “Indoor potted plants can remove air-borne contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), over 300 of which have been identified in indoor air.” These compounds can include air-borne doses of benzene, which the study found could be removed in 24 hours by plants.
Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out and buy fake plants. Real plants are so much better than fake ones. They smell good, create nice air and can grow to fill your space!
Cleaning supplies and laundry
Although you may not want to think about it now, you’ll need to do some cleaning to keep your dorm looking decent. Instead of buying new cleaning supplies every couple of weeks, invest in a refillable subscription or find a glass bottle you can refill yourself. Some name brands sell tablets you can dissolve in water for a make-your-own cleaning solution. There are plenty of resources for refilling bulk goods in Berkeley, such as Berkeley Bowl and Re-Up Refills.
What about laundry? This tip is really self-explanatory, but waiting for large loads of laundry to collect is not a bad idea. That way, you’ll be saving water and your own time. Just make sure you have enough clean clothes to last you the week.
Pro tip: If you want to take your laundry game up a notch, check out wool dryer balls. They’re a durable alternative to dryer sheets and act as a fabric softener guarding against static.
This back-to-school season, let’s take a more green approach. You’ll be surprised at the time, money and resources you’ll be saving.