The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College

Imagine the state of your average college dorm room: lights left on, electronics left charging, garbage and recycling thrown together in the same bin. A dorm can seem like the last place a person would find any sort of concern for the environment. But, as it turns out, sustainability is now spreading to college campuses across the country! Programs such as The Sustainable Campus and others are working with universities to help them reduce their carbon footprint and provide eco-friendly housing to students. All over the country, schools are adjusting how they manage waste, protect indoor air quality, and save energy.

From instituting programs that encourage students to change their behavior (turning off lights, unplugging electronics, and sorting waste) to adopting responsible building practices, colleges and universities are making great strides towards sustainability while improving their bottom line. In 2009 The New York Times  reported that more than 600 U.S colleges and universities had already made a pledge to become carbon neutral; and more than 90 dorms across the country were LEED certified. For example, they cite the EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina that consumes two thirds less electricity than a conventional building of the same size. Another example of a green dorm is a LEED Certified student residence building at Harvard University that features renewable bamboo flooring, low VOC finishes, and regionally sourced siding with recycled content.

If you happen to know a student who is moving into a dormitory this fall, help them (and their roommates) go green in their dorm room with these Green Depot solutions!

Keep Warm With Wool
Help save energy by turning the thermostat down and using a comfy throw blanket while catching up on course work! The Eco-Wise Pendleton Throw is 100% wool and is machine washable. Wool is a naturally renewable fiber and the fabric in these blankets has been Cradle to Cradle certified.




Prevent Phantom Energy Use
For all your electronics, from your phone to your laptop, a TrickleStrip –Saving Surge Protector will greatly reduce the amount of vampire/standby energy consumed by dorm electronics. Be sure to flip it to “off” when going out!

  

  

Wake Up On Time and In Style
After a late night studying, it is important to have a high quality alarm clock. The bamboo-clad Vers Alarm Clock Radio is compact, and is also a dock for an iPod. Gorgeously hand crafted, this unit cuts down on plastic use and the company plants 100 trees for every tree they use in production.

 

  

Deodorize the Dorm with Plant Oils – Not Petro-Chemicals
It’s common for every college dorm room to have that smell every once in a while. Be it from people living in close quarters, or the resonance of that pizza from three days ago, or maybe you can’t put your finger on it. Whatever it may be, Airscense to the rescue! This room freshener doesn’t cover up odors; it neutralizes them using a petro-chemical-free formula.

 

Charge Electronics Anywhere on Campus
The Solar Back Pack, efficiently charges all hand-held electronics through built in solar panels even as it holds textbooks and a laptop in its spacious main compartment. On a cloudy day, the charger can also be powered up using a USB power cable.



Zoe Bloom contributed to this post.

This Holiday Season as you look for gifts or supplies for the children in your life, you’ll probably consider the child’s age and interests, and the quality and durability of the product. It is much less common to consider the safety of the toy – most people assume that there are government regulations in place to protect us. Unfortunately, the reality is that, as a country, we still lack consensus on how to approach regulation of chemicals in consumer products – even those intended for children.

There is currently legislation at both the federal level and in many states seeking to clarify strategies to protect our children from toxic chemical exposure. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, introduced to the House by Sen. Frank Lautenberg is one. Another is the Child-Safe Product Act, currently under consideration in New York State. It is notable that parents, health care professionals and educators are not the only ones showing support for this kind of legislation – many businesses are too. Today, Green Depot Founder Sarah Beatty testified at a New York State Assembly hearing on the Child-Safe Product Act. In her testimony she explained why businesses should welcome regulation of this kind:

The Child-Safe Products Act protects workers in manufacturing facilities, nearby communities, and all consumers from toxic chemical exposure. It reduces the potential for product makers’ legal liability for illness linked to toxic chemicals, and it increases investor confidence that they will be free from:
• Worker’s compensation claims from occupational illness linked to on the job toxic chemical exposure; and
• A tarnished public image, resulting in decreased sales, suffered by so many brands in the past few years due to contamination.

According to the American Sustainable Business Council the economic benefits of chemical regulation include: cutting the costs of hazardous waste storage and disposal; improving worker protection; decreasing health care costs, and future liabilities; and supporting market trends that transform supply chains that result in better businesses.

There are many arguments in favor of this kind of legislation – and support and awareness are growing across the country. This time next year, as we are shopping for meaningful gifts that will delight our favorite youngsters, let’s hope that we won’t still be having to wonder and worry about the possibility of lurking toxins!

Click here for more information on The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.

Click here for more about the Child-Safe Products Act under consideration in New York State.