We all know the basics of being eco-friendly such as recycling paper and plastic, turning off a light when we leave a room, and carpooling when possible. Thankfully, most of us understand why these actions are important or at the minimum, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change in order to save the planet. However, through my experience of trying to live a low waste lifestyle I've been able to accumulate 5 easy ways to make your dorm more eco-friendly. 

1. Buy in Bulk

Ever see those super artsy photos on Pinterest of pantries filled with glass jars and think #goals? Well you may have not known that achieving this look is relatively affordable and eco-friendly. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Kroger tend to have bulk sections filled with nonperishable pantry staples such as nuts, seeds, flours, sugars, dried fruit, etc. Not only is the bulk section notorious for being more affordable than buying something prepackaged, but you're also eliminating plastic waste completely by buying a product without any packaging.

I recommend bringing a glass jar and having the store weigh it before filling it or a reusable produce bag. Another pro is that you can buy the exact amount of food you need. Not sure if you like nutritional yeast? No problem, you can buy as much or as little as you'd like.  

2. Buy Secondhand 

According to an EPA study, about 13.1 million tons of textiles end up in landfills annually. To make matters worse, while you think you're doing your due diligence by donating to GoodWill or Salvation Army, only 45% of donated clothes actually end up in stores to be resold. A simple and affordable way to mitigate this problem is to buy second hand.

iPhone apps such as Poshmark and websites such as Thredup are growing in popularity. You no longer need to go to an actual store to buy second hand. After navigating through these website, I realized that a good portion of the clothes for sale still have their tags on them. Without these websites, these perfectly good clothes would have ended up in the trash further polluting our world. 

3. Swap Towels and Cloth Napkins for Paper Towels 

Think about how many paper towels you go through in a week, let alone an entire semester. Rather than constantly buying more packs, switch to towels or cloth napkins. If you want to buy new ones, the initial cost is a small investment, but a simple way around this is to cut up old towels or t-shirts. Make sure you have enough for a week and then throw them in the wash while you do your normal load of laundry. This tip is so easy and will save you so much money. 

4. Purify the Air with Plants

Lets be real, not only are most of us broke, but we also don't have the time to look into the newest and greatest air purifiers. An easy and more affordable solution to this problem is to buy plants that naturally clean the air. Snake Plants are known for their detoxifying properties and they work as decor for your home too. Opting for more plants rather than an actual air purifier also reduces waste because you don't have to buy a bulky plastic machine that probably comes wrapped in a cardboard box and bubble wrap. Also, plants have other various benefits to them too! 

5. DIY Cleaning Products 

Ever notice how cleaning service workers wear masks? That's because the traditional products they use are toxic to our health and our planet. Most products are loaded with carcinogens, hormones disruptors, skin irritants, asthmagens, etc. An easy way to avoid these harmful chemicals is to make your own cleaning products. Some of the basic essentials are castile soap, vinegar, baking soda and essential oils for a preferred scent. I bet you could find a few of these basics in your home currently. However, if you are short in time and need to buy a cleaning product at the store, make sure it's all natural and non of the ingredients include fragrance, sodium borate, ammonium, glycol ethers, sodium laureth sulfates, formaldehyde, artificial colors/dyes and bleach. 

There you have it, five overlooked ways to make your dorm room more eco-friendly. I'm not saying you need to run to the grocery store and make all these changes today, but a slow and gradual transition will put your health, the planet, and your bank account in better shape.