Sustainable Dorm Tips for This School Year

*Click to enlarge* Vampire energy graphic from

Live Sustainably! Follow these simple tips to reduce consumption and energy use from the comfort of your dorm room. Developing sustainable living habits now will benefit you and the planet for years to come.

Things to Buy:

  • Stop Vampire electricity: Lots of devices and appliances, such as monitors and charging cords, use energy even when they are turned off. Plug in your devices to a surge protector so you can shut off the flow of power from multiple outlets with the flip of a switch! Always unplug appliances when not in use, especially during school breaks.
  • Use CFL or LED light bulbs! Compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs, CFLs and LEDs use 25-80% less energy and last 3-25 times longer. (
  • Your reusable water bottle is your best friend. Whether you refill it at one of the many filtered water dispensers around campus or from the tap, a reusable water saves you money and reduces landfill waste.
  • Use a drying rack instead of putting your laundry in the dryer- you’ll save energy and money!
  • Reusable dishes are better than disposable ones and keep your garbage from smelling (but only if you wash them!)

Things to Do:

  • Having a party? When cleaning up, make sure to toss empty plastic cups in the plastics recycling bin.
  • Recycle your empty Pizza boxes! Throw away anything inside, flatten them, and stack them behind the nearest paper recycling bin.
  • Turn the lights off when you leave the room. Keep them off during the day, and take advantage of the daylight.
  • Time your shower to a song to waste less hot water.
  • Shutdown your computer when not in use, or place it in sleepmode.
  • Don’t leave the water running! Running the water while brushing your teeth is the equivalent of pouring 64 8-ounce cups of water down the drain. When you aren’t using the tap, be sure to turn it off. (based on data from Huffington Post)
  • Running out of toothpaste?  Slice the tube open with scissors to reach every last bit.
  • Turn shampoo bottles upside down to get every last drop!
  • Save your compostable coffee cups and drop them in the compost bin of any dining hall/library. Compostable cups are better for the environment, but only if disposed of properly!
  • Return used dishes to dining halls ASAP so that Dining Services does not have to buy new ones. Dining Services often runs low at the end of the semester.
  • Turn down the heat in your dorm room and break out your funky sweater collection and fuzzy socks. If you can control the temperature on your thermostat during the winter, try to keep it at 68℉.


Sarah Ritzmann ’17 is a Sustainable Writing Intern for the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.