5 Ways to Go Green When Packing for College

Getting ready to go off to college is one of the most exciting rites of passage in a young person’s life. College is the beginning of your independence, when choices and actions become sole responsibility of you. To start off your college career and life of independence on a green note, consider these tips for going green when packing for college.

Chemical-Free Cleaning Supplies
Of course you will want to keep your dorm room or apartment clean. Cleaning supplies can be very expensive, and they contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and harmful to your health. Allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions can be made worse by the chemicals in cleaning solutions. To avoid polluting water sources and keep your surroundings sparkling clean at the same time, consider homemade cleaning supplies, which are much cheaper than and just as effective as the expensive, ready-made kind. Instead of a variety of cleaning supplies, pack a gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda and a couple of empty spray bottles and use these recipes for making your own cleaning solutions.

All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/2 gallon of water in a spray bottle and store. Don’t worry that the vinegar will make your dwelling smell: once it dries, it’s odor-free. This cleaner is perfect for bathroom and kitchen fixtures, countertops, dining tables and virtually any other surface on which you would use a pre-made chemical cleanser.

Carpet Stain Remover
Mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray it on the spot. Allow it to sit for 5 or 10 minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or brush using warm, soapy water.

Wall Cleaner
Apply baking soda straight to a mark on the wall using a sponge. Scrub and rinse.

To keep the air in your room smelling fresh and clean, mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 4 tablespoons of baking soda and place in a small decorative dish on a table to absorb odors.

Dishwasher Soap
Dishwasher soaps contain phosphates, which encourage algae growth in fresh water sources and choke out the wildlife. An effective replacement for dishwasher powder is to mix equal parts of borax and baking soda. Use it as you would use any commercial product.

Warm Bedding & Clothes
To keep your heating bill in check over the winter and save energy, be sure to pack some warm lounging clothes to wear while you’re hanging out at home. A comfortable hat will keep body heat from escaping through your head, and a pair of wool socks under warm slippers will keep your feet toasty. Consider a set of high-quality thermal underwear to put on under your sweats for extra warmth, and then keep the thermostat at 68 degrees. A down comforter will keep you extra warm at night, allowing you to turn the thermostat down to 62 while you sleep. These strategies can save you 40 percent in heating costs, and a lot of natural gas to boot.

Rugs & Window Treatments
Rather than purchasing rugs and window treatments derived from oil-based materials, consider sisal, wool or cotton for your rugs, cotton for your curtains and wood for your blinds. Rugs will help keep your space warm in the winter. Open your curtains or blinds during the day to allow the sun to heat your space, then close them at night to keep the warmth in.

Take Your Bike!
Even if you have a car, be sure to take your bike to college. Campuses are generally bike-friendly, and urban college neighborhoods are usually packed with stores, shops and services that you can often more easily bike to than drive to. You’ll not only save on gas, but you’ll also combat the classic Freshman 15, a common weight gain that is widely seen during the first year of college.

Power Saver Electrical Cords
Many electronics, such as your coffee pot, computer peripherals and game consoles, continue to use electricity after you turn them off. Take a power saver cord with you and plug in your computer peripherals, such as your printer, modem, scanner and monitor into one power strip and turn it off when you’re not using your computer. Not only will you save energy, you’ll also extend the lives of your accessories.

Author Bio:  George Dennis is president of King Shade and Window, a home improvement company that carries a range of custom roller shades.

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