Back-to-school time means Target, Lands End, Wal-Mart and other megastores will devote entire sections to helping freshmen furnish their college residence hall room. And colleges typically provide "must-have" lists for incoming students to bring on such shopping sprees. The result: on move-in day, the vans arrive on campus laden with electronic devices, appliances and other furnishings.
Many colleges' lists now suggest alternative green products in order to equip students with the tools to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
The first thing suggested? Don't buy so much stuff. Students can start their eco-conscious lives at college by sharing items with their roommates.
The Green Shopping List
* Consider purchasing TVs, DVD players, computers and microwaves from an environmentally responsible company. ENERGY STAR products use 10 to 50 percent less energy.
* There are fewer options for compact refrigerators. If you decide to buy a new model consider the products offered by MicroFridge or Danby Millenium (DAR254, DAR482).
* Keep in mind that most dorms have common areas, which have communal appliances like TVs and refrigerators.
* If you must buy one of these items consider a used model. The production of new models adds to carbon emissions too.
* Avoid "phantom load" from computers, gaming systems, stereos, TVs, cell phones, cameras and I-pod chargers that draw electricity even when turned off by unplugging them when not in use. Or plug them all into a power strip and unplug the strip when not using them.
* Buy only compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs.
* Bring your own reusable mug/coffee cup, which will help reduce, green house gasses, landfill input and disposable cup production.
* Bring reusable bags to carry books, groceries and other items you buy.
* Use organic fibers for your sheets, rugs and curtains produced without toxic chemicals. Hemp and bamboo fiber are becoming more popular. And many of the companies using organic fibers recycle and use fair labor practices.
St. Lawrence's green shopping list is available on its web site.
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