Sustainable students

I want to outfit my college dorm room in a way that promotes sustainability. Any tips?

Your question has me misty eyed, remembering my own college years. Of course, I lived in a teepee as a freshman, followed by a brief stint in a tree house before moving into a commune. But if the electricity-guzzling dorms are your style, I’ll try to help you see the light: It’s compact fluorescent. CFLs use 50 percent to 80 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. So back away from that hideous, plastic-smelling halogen lamp from Target.

In fact, avoid Target’s dorm-room conformist propaganda altogether. Recycle furniture, kitchenware and clothing from the Salvation Army (315 16th Street), or Web sites such as and When you buy snacks—coffee for those all-night didgeridoo jam sessions or chocolate to seduce a coed—buy the fair-trade versions of these items from the Global Exchange online store ( ).

Don’t use the dorm’s tumble dryer. A 48-minute spin through the dryer wastes 2,667 watts of power. Just pin your clothes to a line and let the multicolored fabrics flap in the wind like Tibetan prayer flags. Don’t blow-dry your hair, either. It wastes 2,000 watts of power to use a blow-dryer for 10 minutes.

Finally, avoid using air conditioning unless your room is unbearably hot. Instead, open windows when the outside air is cooler than the inside temperature and close them during the hottest part of the day. Worried you might smell sweaty? Dab Oshadhi organic patchouli essential oil (available at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, located at 1900 Alhambra Boulevard) on your neck and wrists, and let the sweet scent of idealism triumph over your body odor.