back to school: girls in college dorm room

Back to School: 10 Tips for a Sustainable Dorm Room

It’s back to school time! If you or a family member is heading to college this fall, there are ways to work in eco-friendly lifestyles even in a communal living environment such as a dorm. With only a limited space to call your own, it’s important to make every inch count. With some conscious decision making and preparation you or your student can begin a lifelong sustainable lifestyle.

Back to School: 10 tips for a sustainable dorm room

Back to school: Girls in college dorm room

It's time to head back to school! Even if you or a member of your family will be living in a communal living environment such as a dorm during your time at college, there are still ways to maintain environmentally responsible lifestyles. 

Because you only have a small area to call your own, it is essential to make the most of every square inch. With some careful planning and decision-making, you or one of your students can get started on a sustainable lifestyle that will last a lifetime.

"Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species."

Sir David Attenborough

Here's some easy tips for back to school sustainability in your dorm room

1. Laundry

Now that you are back to school, one of your regular tasks will be doing laundry. We recommend making your laundry a weekly habit, not a daily chore, and washing only full loads of laundry. Select cold water to wash your clothes and then air dry them using a drying rack, both of which will save energy while preserving the quality of your clothes.

back to school: college student doing laundry

2. Nice weather? Bike!

While the weather is nice, you can ride your bike to class, work or around campus. Remember to always wear a helmet and adhere to all of the road safety guidelines. This not only reduces the amount of gas used and emissions produced, but it is also fantastic for the wellbeing of your heart.

3. Report due? Think twice about printing

When it is necessary for you to print, use recycled paper that has not been treated with chlorine. Using paper that has been recycled lessens the damage that the paper industry does to the surrounding environment. You can save even more resources by only printing the materials that you need and by printing on both sides of the paper.

4. Plug it in

When not in use, electronic devices should be plugged into a power strip and the power strip should be turned off. Why should you do this? Some electronic devices continue to draw energy even after they have been turned off. This can continue wasting energy use, which not only increases your power bill, but hurts the environment.

back to school - electronics plugged into power strip

5. Leftovers? Skip the plastic

Back to school food prep can still be sustainable! When it comes to dishware, silverware, shopping bags, mugs, and water bottles, opt for reusable versions rather than disposable ones. Not only are beeswax wraps and silicone storage bags beneficial to the environment, but they also help you save money in the long run because you can reuse them to wrap food multiple times.

Here's some beeswax food wraps we love: Shop Now

back to school - plastic free food prep

6. Go to sleep!

In your room in the dorm or in the library? Go to sleep! Turn off your monitor and put your computer into sleep mode rather than using a screen saver when you're not using it so that it doesn't use up precious energy.

7. Light it up

Make sure that you have all of the necessities for your dorm room stocked up before you head back to school. LED light bulbs should be used. Incandescent light bulbs have a shorter lifespan and consume more energy than these alternatives.

Back to school - dorm room LED lights
Back to school - college dorm room

8. Reduce, reuse, recycle

We even recommend repurposing and upcycling! Make use of what you already have rather than going out and purchasing new things. It is not necessary to purchase new bed linens, pillows, blankets, or towels for your dorm room because you can use the same ones you had at home. It is a great way to save money to reuse what you already have, and it is important to keep in mind that new is not always best.

9. Shop Secondhand for Back to School

Back to school shopping for large purchases can be sustainable too! Consider buying used items such as books, furniture, and electronics. Because you are not putting anything brand-new out into the world, but rather supporting a circular economy, this is an excellent choice to consider. You can find great deals on furniture, electronics, and other items by searching online marketplaces, local thrift and consignment stores, and online book sellers. Online book sellers also sell ebooks and discounted used textbooks.

Back to school - girl on campus with text books

10. Shop for your sustainable Back to School wardrobe

Looking for back to school clothes? You can get a fresh start on your college wardrobe by shopping on When you shop for pre-loved clothing from Helpsy, you will find one-of-a-kind, amazing options that will make your closet and wallet happy. This will allow you to create a unique wardrobe that is perfect for a college experience, and is truly one of a kind. Buying used clothing can save you a lot of money and help the environment.

Ready to get your closet college ready? Shop some of our most popular collections below. We've got an amazing assortment of college-ready brands, including ASOS, Revolve brands, Urban Outfitters brands and more.

Back to School Collection Brands

Urban Outfitters Brands

Shop these collections and more at today!