Yesterday I had a request to do a post on how students living in dorms could be more earth consious and possibly save some cash along the way. The first part is easy, the second not so much, but there are some things you can do.
Since living in a dorm is all inclusive, its not as if you have a fluctuating electric bill based on usage, or a water bill for how many showers you take. You cant really save money that way, but that's not to say you shouldn't still do your part to help the environment. Try using reusable water bottles, and fill them in the water fountains. School water fountains are filtered, so the water your getting is better then out of the tap. Decent reusable water bottles can be picke dup from everywhere from dollartree (for a dollar!) to walmart (for up to $7.00). If you do the cheap route, you'll spend a dollar for a bottle you can use over and over and over again. Think about how often you buy a drink while out on campus? Now think about how much you spend doing it... that's how much you'll save.
Also, I suggest a window planter. There are many plants you can grow (LEGAL ONES) right in your dorm with a 3 dollar window planter. While i understand you don't really have room for a garden, growing some basic vegetables can help offset your food budget, especially if you like herbs and spices like basil, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano. a three dollar planter will allow you to grow all 5 of these, and use fresh in your food, as opposed to paying four dollars a bottle for the spices at your local grocer.
Try to find “Energy Star”-logo TVs, DVD players, computers and microwaves because they use 10 to 50 percent less energy. This energy consumption may not benefit you right now, but most of the appliances you get now, you'll take with you to your new apartment when you graduate. The savings will pay off for you then. There are few options for energy star micro refridgerators, but look around and be sure to check energy consumption rates. get the one that meets your needs but doesn't use the most power.
remember that some item use a "phantom load"... computers, gaming systems, stereos, TVs, cell phones, cameras and iPod chargers that draw electricity even when turned off. Unplug them when not in use, or plug them all into a power strip and turn off the strip when not using them. Flipping that switch off is probably the most important energy-saving measure you can take.
If your responsible for light bulbs, just see my post from the other day. Trust me, you'll thank me, and so will the person in the dorm room after you graduate.
If your like me, you love your car, but a bike comes in handy around campus and for town use. (Some colleges lend bikes out, just like books). if you scour sites like craigslist, you can pick up a 7 or 10 speed cruiser for around 25 dollars and it will last you all your collegiate days. And think, when your broke, and don't have the money for gas, your not stranded. If your traveling on a road trip (as most college persons do) get a group and carpool, splitting the cost for gas, and pack a lunch if you can.
Look for sheets, rugs and curtains produced without toxic chemicals and made of organic materials. Hemp and bamboo fiber are becoming more popular. And many of the companies using organic fibers recycle and use fair labor practices. Walmart's entire back to school line is made with recycled materials, so while it may not be overly professional, it does have personality and it is earth friendly.
If your more proactive, I suggest going to the student council about starting a student community garden, even if its just for your dorm building, and campaign to get people involved. Many colleges and universities are going green, if yours isn't, or your unsure, put together an info packet, and organize a green student committee. Show the school board in a professional manner the benefits of a green campus, and a plan for implementation that allows for cost effective and gradual changes. Get teachers involved. Approach science teachers with proposals to teach green technologies in their lesson plans, and push the agenda for an interactive green learning area (a garden, solar panel array, wind turbine, etc) and have students build it to learn engineering, electrical planning, social science, environmental science, and green systems management. It's also a good cultural history or anthropology teaching tool.