One last loving thing we can do as parents is to send our children off to college with the makings of a green dorm room, replete with natural air freshener (as an alluring substitute
if the roommate wants to use a plug-in), natural fiber bedding (it is cheap at Target),
and a myriad of other examples of choosing the most eco-friendly (and human-friendly) furnishings.
Here is how my daughter and I chose green (and economical) during a grueling six-hour shopping trip:
Old Paradigm: Plastic water bottles.
Easy Greening: Tabletop filter; pretty stainless steel water bottle (find these online or at stores such as Whole Foods).
Old Paradigm: Plastic electric kettle.
Easy Greening: Stainless steel electric kettle.
Old Paradigm: Air freshener plug-ins.
Easy Greening: Natural air freshener using essential oils (or better yet, clean up the mess causing the odors).
Old Paradigm: Scented candles made of paraffin and synthetic fragrance.
Easy Greening: Beeswax candles (these are natural air cleaners in their own right).
Old Paradigm: Permanent press sheets made with polyester blend.
Easy Greening: Natural fiber, preferably organic.
Old Paradigm: Synthetic pillows.
Easy Greening: Pillow made with natural materials.
Old Paradigm: Polyester-filled comforter.
Easy Greening: Organic wool or organic cotton-filled duvet; wool or cotton blankets.
Note: Buying a comforter like this is the big-ticket item, but it will last a lifetime.
Old Paradigm: Scented laundry detergent.
Easy Greening: “Free and Clear” laundry detergent .
Old Paradigm: Fabric softener.
Easy Greening: No fabric softener unless from a respected green brand such as Seventh Generation or Ecover.
Old Paradigm: No education about energy use with laundry.
Easy Greening: Give them 12 Laundry Tips for Maximum Energy Saving.
Old Paradigm: Plugs everywhere, no easy way to turn off electronics.
Easy Greening: Take a power strip to attach all the sundry electronics and easily turn them all off to reduce phantom loads (electronic devices that keep running clocks etc., even when the power switch is turned off).
Old Paradigm: Lamps that use only incandescent light bulbs.
Easy Greening: Buy lamps that can accommodate compact fluorescents; switch existing lights in the dorm room to compact fluorescents.
Old Paradigm: Halogens.
Easy Greening: Compact fluorescents (halogens can be a fire hazard).
Old Paradigm: Not paying attention to the fields that electronics give off.
Easy Greening: To avoid electromagnetic fields make sure that all transformers, such as the little black boxes, and digital alarm clocks and other electronic equipment is at least 6 feet from the sleeping area.
Old Paradigm: Bug sprays with DEET.
Easy Greening: Herbal alternatives found in health food stores.
Old Paradigm: Not reading labels on personal care products.
Easy Greening: Many body care products contain ingredients that can disrupt hormones and cause reproductive harm. Find safe brands and companies from
Old Paradigm: Lindane-based shampoos for head lice.
Easy Greening: Use a natural alternative to lindane for head lice and scabies, if they become a problem. (Lindane was banned by the EPA for agricultural crops in August 2006, but use as a shampoo is regulated by the FDA and lindane has not yet been banned for this use.)
Old Paradigm: Sodas with aspartame/Nutrasweet.
Easy Greening: Drinks with natural flavors.
Old Paradigm: Fragrance in body-care products.
Easy Greening: Naturally-scented or unscented products instead.
Old Paradigm: Regular coffee.
Easy Greening: Organic, fair trade coffee.
Old Paradigm: no plants
Easy Greening: Top 10 house (dorm room) plants for cleaner air.
Old Paradigm: Nothing
Easy Greening: Salt lamps. Crystalline salt is a natural air ionizer that boosts the negative ions in the air; an environment rich in negative ions has a wonderfully positive effect on your physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual health.
Old Paradigm No attention to chi energy.
Easy Greening: <a href=”http://www.care2.com/greenliving/best-feng-shui-for-your-desk.html” Best Feng Shui Your Desk; Feng Shui Your Bedroom; and you can always give the hint by offering How Clutter Affects You
Old Paradigm: Paper plates and plastic utensils.
Easy Greening: Cheap metal kitchen ware, including bowls and plates.
Old Paradigm: Toxic all-purpose cleaner.
Easy Greening: All-purpose cleaner from a respected green company such as Seventh Generation of Ecover.
Old Paradigm: Junk microwave food.
Easy Greening: Whole food snacks.