Consider these sustainable dorm-life swaps


The Daily Illini File Photo

Students gather in front of the Lester H. Swanlund Administration Building during the Climate Strike protest on Dec. 6, 2019.

By Ava Traverso

As August begins to wind down into the beginning of the semester, getting new school supplies is one of the first steps many students take when preparing for the new year. When living in a dorm for the first time, buying essentials for residence hall living is crucial, but it can also be incredibly wasteful. With tons of plastic and non-recyclable packaging that can come with living items, it can add up to have a decent impact on your carbon footprint. Here is a list of essentials to keep you prepared and ready for freshman year, while also being kind to our planet.

Stainless steel bento box

Even though buying traditional plastic containers may seem like the easiest route to store dining hall leftovers and snacks, there are plenty of downsides when it comes to plastic. Traditional containers can become discolored and smelly over time, leading them to be thrown away after several uses. Enter the stainless steel bento box. Even though the price tag can be a little steeper upfront, its listing states “this product should last forever with proper care.” The stainless steel is recyclable if, for any reason, it needs to be disposed of. Using a bento box is a much classier way to fight your cravings throughout the day.

Shampoo/conditioner bars

Reflecting on my time in the dorms, one of the most annoying things was lugging a giant bathroom caddy to and from the showers. Even though it may seem like a good idea to buy the bulk-sized plastic bottles of your hygiene products, they likely turn out to be more a nuisance than anything when it comes to carrying them around. A highly green solution to this is shampoo and conditioner bars (also traditional bars of soap)! Like their bottled counterparts, these bars come in dozens of different scents and hair needs, which assures you your hair will still be healthy after use. My favorite is the Jumping Juniper shampoo bar from Lush. The lavender scent is soothing, and the bar leaves my hair feeling squeaky clean after every wash. The best part about using bars is there’s no plastic packaging to deal with after running out of the product. Just simply use up the bar, and it’s gone.

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Mouthwash tablets

In the same vein as the point for the use of shampoo and conditioner bars, the lighter the things I have to carry to the bathroom, the better. Mouthwash might seem like a small item on the massive list of stuff to buy, but starting small is one of the best ways to begin integrating sustainable habits into your life and sticking with them! The way mouthwash tablets work is through dissolving the tablet in a glass of water and proceeding like you would with traditional mouthwashes. After the bottle is empty, each part can be recycled in its specific way (the website gives more detail on this). The product linked above is from Package Free Shop, a sustainable favorite of many because of its range of products and reasonable prices, but Lush and other brands carry them, too.

Hopefully, this list is just a jumping-off point into your sustainable journey or encourages someone to begin making eco-friendly swaps. Have a good semester, wear your mask, and stay green, Illini.

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