Your Guide for a Sustainable Move-in and Life on Campus
17 tips for environmentally friendly ways to pack, eat, and study that will save you money, conserve energy
Back-to-school time is here. As you pack your bags, the folks at BU Sustainability have some tips for how to pull off an environmentally friendly Move-in and some suggestions on how to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle once you’ve unpacked.
It’s easier to know what you’ll need once you move into your new space. Shopping for dorm supplies after you’ve arrived on campus, when you have a better sense of your space and what items you might be able to share with others, is a good idea. That way, you can avoid purchasing things you won’t need or want. Stores such as Goodwill and Target are within easy reach—and by shopping locally, you not only reduce your carbon footprint by not having items shipped, but you also won’t have to bother with all that packing material.
An added bonus: having less to unpack and more time to enjoy Boston.
Chances are it will be hot during Move-In. Don’t buy cases of plastic bottled water. The city of Boston has high-quality drinking water, so bring a reusable water bottle you can refill. In fact, BU has more than 100 bottle filling stations on the Charles River Campus (find locations here). Water filtration pitchers, like a Brita, also save space in your mini fridge. Your wallet will thank you as well.
Avoid using plastic utensils and single-use plates. Purchase reusable food containers rather than using foil and plastic wrap.
Swap out paper napkins and paper towels for reusable cloth products. You’ll save space in your dorm without large rolls and multipacks. It’s another way to save money, too.
Receive a discount by bring a reusable mug when purchasing coffee at campus dining locations. It adds up.
Opt for a smart power strip to reduce energy consumption.
Power strips are permitted in University housing so long as they meet the following specifications:
– 15 amps rating
– 14-gauge wire
– Built-in circuit breaker
– 1875-watt maximum power
– UL listed
Find more information here.
If you’re bringing a desk lamp, make sure your bulb is LED. Raise window shades to let in natural light and switch off overhead lights.
Sorting your trash, recycling, and food waste correctly is one of the most important ways you can contribute to BU’s Zero Waste Plan. Make sure you read the signage carefully and sort it out. All residence halls have common area trash and recycling. Designate two waste barrels in your room—one for trash and one for recycling. These will make it easier to bring recyclables to the designated spot. Remember: plastic bags go in the trash.
Boston’s plastic bag ordinance means you’ll have to pay extra for each shopping bag you use. Bring reusable bags with you when you shop. All the cents add up.
Don’t shell out big bucks for a personal printer. All dorms and academic buildings have printers, plus BU gives every student a printing allowance. In many cases, it is not necessary to print. And not having to organize and store papers will save you time.
Purchase bedding made of materials such as certified organic cotton and bamboo that have been grown without pesticides.
Don’t forget to break down and recycle cardboard boxes at your designated cardboard recycling areas during Move-in. Recycling stations are conveniently located outside in every residential neighborhood during Move-in.
Close blinds on a hot day to keep your room cool; open blinds on a cold day to let in the sun’s warmth.
Add a few plants to your room. The science is still out on whether they improve indoor air quality; however, they have been shown to aid in overall mood and stress levels, give you something to look after, and add ambiance to any dorm room.
Open windows to let in the breeze. Use fans as needed.
Avoid using air fresheners that are loaded with chemicals. Opt instead for a box of baking soda; it’s cost-effective and will absorb odors, especially in your fridge and sink drains.
Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products and detergents, and ones with minimal packaging. Select options that do not use phosphates, which pollute waters and damage ecosystems, or petrochemicals, which are made from petroleum or carbon. Additionally, look out for certified green cleaning supplies, such as Ecologo, Green Seal, or EPA’s Safer Choice. Learn more here.
Whenever feasible, walk, take the T, or use a bike, skateboard, or scooter to get around Boston. This saves money while reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to cleaner air. Be sure to take advantage of BU’s student discount for Bluebikes membership. Use the Terrier Transit app to help with trip planning and comparing your transportation options.
Enable power-saving computer settings: have the screen turn off after three minutes, and turn your computer off at night. It saves electricity and it’s more secure.
Be sure to switch off lights when you leave a room. Better yet, open curtains—the natural daylight that comes through the windows every day can help to decrease dependence on artificial light.
Unplug your power cords when they’re not in use.
Share a fridge with your roommate or use your dorm’s common fridge if there is one, and keep the temperature at 35F. Freezers should be kept at 0F.
Practice mindful eating.
BU Dining uses a sophisticated food waste tracking platform called Leanpath to identify and reduce food waste. You can help BU advance on the path toward Zero Waste by taking only what you plan on eating, and participating in Weigh the Waste events. Learn more here.
Take shorter, and cooler, showers. Washing your clothes in cold water reduces energy use and helps clothes last longer. Most laundry detergents are formulated to work just as well in cold water. Try to hold off doing laundry until you have a full load—and air dry on a drying rack (it’s cheaper, too).
Lots of retailers—both brick and mortar and online—now offer low- or zero-waste alternatives such as shampoo and conditioner bars or refills of laundry detergent. Search “Zero Waste store Boston” on Google for a few local options.