The Green Blog
Green Upgrades You and Your Roommates Can Make Happen in Your Shared Space

PGG Roommate.jpg by Kaitlin Krull, Guest Blogger
Eco-friendly living is on the minds of young people across the country. Luckily, it's pretty easy for environmentally-conscious college students to live a greener life---from consuming local and organic produce to reducing waste and reusing products instead of buying new.
What's not as easy, however, is making a dorm room, suite, or other shared housing greener. If you want to make your shared space more eco-friendly, check out these trendy green upgrades to help you and your roommates go green in 2017.  

Throw away less Reducing waste is a straightforward and simple way to make your living space more environmentally friendly. Designate trash cans and bins for recycling, compostables, and other household waste, and reuse consumables whenever possible to decrease waste and lower the carbon footprint in your shared space.

Freshen up the air
A green environment is only as clean as the air surrounding it, so make sure yours is toxin-free and fresh with a few simple tricks. You can clean up the air by opening your windows, or by adding air-purifying plants or gadgets. Plus, chemical-free cleaning products (either store-bought or homemade) will keep your place free of airborne toxins all year long. Top tip: keep your dorm room smelling great with natural essential oils instead of carcinogenic candles and aerosols.

Decrease your energy use Another way to make your shared space greener this year is by consuming less electricity. You can ask your college housing department about purchasing energy meters for dorm rooms and suites to keep tabs on regular energy use. In the meantime, switch off appliances--including computers and televisions--when not in use, use natural light as much as possible, and choose energy efficient LED light bulbs if you bring your own lamps to school.

Consume less water Most eco-conscious people think so much about reducing energy and household waste that it can be easy to overlook water consumption. Conserve water in your dorm room or suite by taking shorter showers, and running only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines. You can also talk to your housing department about the possibility of installing low-flow shower heads, taps, and toilets throughout your living spaces.

Upcycle furniture and supplies
Whether we know it or not, upcycling is already a key part of the quintessential college experience. Make do with less by sourcing your dorm's appliances, furniture, and other accessories from selling pages like eBay and Craigslist, local thrift shops, and friends. If you want to bond with your roommates, take on a DIY upcycling project and create a bespoke entertainment unit, reupholstered sofa, or drinks cart for your shared living space.

Eat together To prove that going green can be fun, why not host regular home-cooked dinner parties for your roommates and other close friends. Sharing local, organic produce and other sustainable foods in your college living space will consume less energy, help the environment, and save you tons of money--not to mention, it'll give you a memorable and positive experience.

Report energy wasting issues Making environmentally conscious decisions like these will definitely help make your college living space greener. However, there are some housing issues that, if left unreported, can be detrimental to the environment and waste energy and money. Keep in touch with your landlord or housing department by reporting drafty windows and doors, leaks, and any heating or air conditioning problems as soon as you spot them. If you think your dorm room or suite can be more energy efficient, bring up the idea of smart thermostats and other high (or low) tech solutions for energy conservation. Once you get the conversation started, you'll be surprised with how receptive the administration will be to furthering their green efforts!

Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life. She enjoys writing for the Modernize HVAC page with the goal of empowering students with the expert eco-friendly guidance and educational tools they need to take on fun projects with confidence.