Although many would rather not hear it (especially vacationing educators), back to school season is in full swing. For college students heading back to the dorms, it’s time to pack up those boxes and decide how to make a barren, perhaps shared, room feel a bit more like home.

There’s been a huge push lately for dorm-bound students to green their small spaces. Unlike “real life” where you have more authority over the eco-friendliness of your living space, dorm-dwellers have to mind the details since buying large furnishings and fixtures and dealing with utilities is out of their hands. Small but important conservation efforts and small-scale purchasing decisions, mainly revolving around décor, are key here.

It’s also important, of course, to stand out and make your space — as claustrophobic as it is — special. No one wants to live in a room with bare walls (aside from the Animal House poster), a mini fridge, and a pile of dirty laundry. Spruce up a dormitory domicile with hand-me-downs from home, Craigslist finds, and these eight unique home accessories that’ll help it stand out from the others in the quad. 

For more collegiate greenness, MNN's fabulous student correspondents are out there reporting from state to state. 

Kikkerland Charging Station @ Kikkerland ($27)

First things first: get an energy-saving power strip (I recommend the Smart Strip). With that taken care of, Kikkerland’s Charging Station will add a verdant oasis to an otherwise blah dorm room while concealing unsightly chargers and cords for small gadgets.

Target Home Bamboo Jersey Sheet Set @ Target ($34.99)

Sized to fit dormitory beds (TwinXL) these jersey sheets are made from 60 percent bamboo and 40 percent cotton. Ebony is pictured but they're also available in colors like white, tan, blue and brown.

100% Design’s Jiwari – Good Night Light @ Charles & Marie ($50)

This tiny LED lamp from Japan is basically the illuminating version of being tucked into bed by Mom. After you turn off your primary bedside lamp, this little guy automatically turns on for a brief while and casts a gentle glow before fading out again. The Good Night Light is reassuring, tranquil, enchanting … everything that life in a dormitory isn’t.


Kikkerland Endangered Species Erasers @ Kikkerland ($11)

Everyone makes mistakes, both romantically and academically, while in college. You can erase the latter with oversized erasers in the shape of endangered animals. The rhino is pictured; a polar bear and gorilla are also available. Two percent of sales from the erasers benefit The Center for Biological Diversity.

PBteen Classic Organic Bath Towels @ PBteen ($8 - $24)

Never fret again about your towels getting snagged by fellow dormmates in communal bathrooms. These 100 percent organic cotton terry towels – available as bath towels, hand towels and washcloths - can be monogrammed or personalized. No one will dare pilfer a towel that reads “Property of Rob” or  “I Belong to Joan.” Available in navy, coffee or white.


Recycled Newspaper Letter Holder @ Urban Outfitters ($24)

Stash all those gushing letters from the parentals along with various supplies and paperwork in this sectioned desktop organizer made from recycled Chinese newspaper coils.

MIO Paperforms V2 (12 tile pack @ MIO ($32)

Spruce up a drab dorm room with these 3-D wallpaper tiles that can be applied to walls with double-stick tape for an inexpensive, temporary space transformation. They’re made from 100 percent pre- and post-consumer waste paper. In addition to V2, other striking designs are available. 

KOR Hydration Vessel @ A+R Store ($29.95)

Thirsty? Hold up to 750 ml of water, yes, water in these beautifully designed, dorm-appropriate, BPA-free bottles. Aside from their sleek, streamlined looks, one percent of sales from the bottles benefit various eco organizations. Available in green (The Wetlands Initiative), orange (The Container Recycling Institute), blue (Algalita Marine Research Foundation), and pink (Blue Planet Run). 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Going beyond the dorm
Are you (or is your baby) heading off to college next month? Check out these eight unique items for eco-minded dorm dwellers.