Each year, fearless young women and men step foot on college campuses, and for many of them it's their first time ever being able to live away from home. However, even through the fun and excitement of furnishing their own new dorm room, there's still a price. Each year, college students create thousands of tons of trash that lands in dumpsters due to choices they make when purchasing accessories and furniture.

Fortunately, turning your dorm into an eco-friendly one isn't that difficult. It just takes a little creativity, a little effort, and a few good tips. Here are 10 tips below to show you some ways to turn your dorm room eco-friendly.

  1. Go Paperless

Carrying around a backpack full of notebooks is over. These days, students are more likely to be carrying a laptop under their arm instead of a backpack filled with loose leaf notebooks. To help create a more eco-friendly dorm room, you can take your notes electronically, which will dramatically decrease how much paper you're using in your studies. Not to mention, it's much simpler to keep your notes organized, but you need to back them up.

  1. Turn Off and Unplug

When you're not using them, always unplug your appliances, and turn off all your lights. Leaving unused appliances and electronics is a huge waste of energy. If you're not using them, there's no reason to leave them on. While it might sound tedious, it's actually an easy fix when it comes to a dorm room. You just plug your electronics into a surge protector, then as you're walking out the door, unplug it or hit the switch to turn the unit off.

  1. Put Your Laptop to Sleep

Although many college students use their laptops all day long, it can be a huge waste of energy in your life. Fortunately, these days, electronics have an energy efficient option. You can change the settings in your laptop, and dim the screen. You want to put your laptop in sleep mode, not just have a screensaver on, because screensavers don't necessarily save that much energy, but the sleep mode setting does.

  1. Conserve Cooling and Heating

AC units add a huge jump in dorm power usage. Plus, if you have your own control of the temperature in your room, you can set the thermostat several degrees higher to help cut the energy use of the AC unit. When your heater or air conditioner is running, never leave a window open. Keep your curtains and blinds closed on sunny, hot days to block out the rays of the sun. During the winter, doing this will keep the cold air out. Throughout the year, let the university maintenance department know about things like:

  • Cracks in doorways
  • Broken windows
  • Damaged thermostat controls
  1. Use a Latex Mattress

A latex mattress, like the Latex for Less latex mattress, is a great option. It's made with organic cotton, 100% natural latex, and pure natural wool. They are also certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100, GOTS, and Eco-Institut. For comfort, you get reversible with two firmnesses in one latex mattress.

  1. Use a Latex Pillow

Latex pillows, like the Latex for Less latex pillow, are natural shredded latex, customizable pillows that allow you to take as much of the fill out as you want, to create the best feel you need. Latex pillows aren't treated with harsh chemicals, but rather are typically made with pure and safe materials.

  1. Use Organic Bedding (pillow cases, sheets, etc.)

Your skin comes in contact with your pillowcases and sheets daily, so it's essential you choose wisely. Choose GOTS-certified organic cotton sheets, so you're not covering yourself each night in synthetic materials. Plus they're eco-friendly, cozy, and soft.

  1. Use Light Efficiently

Turn your desk lamp, overhead light, and other lights off each time you leave your dorm room. If you want to take your eco-friendly dorm room a step further, swap out all your light bulbs with LEDs, which can be 85% more efficient than regular incandescent bulbs. And, they last a lot longer, too.

  1. Opt for Recycled Furniture

Furnish your dorm room with vintage, used, or refurbished furniture. Your first stops when searching for dorm room furniture should be places like:

  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Thrift Shops

Purchasing something that's used means you're saving it from being tossed in a landfill. Plus, by purchasing it locally, you're not using fossil fuels for transporting. It doesn't get much greener than conservation, and this includes buying used furniture, so it doesn't get tossed out.

  1. Start a Movement

With shared amenities and communal spaces, it can be difficult to regulate every bit of your energy use. You can speak with your RA about ways of increasing your dorm room energy efficiency. You can also become a member of or start your own energy-efficiency council or environmental club on your campus. By standing up with your fellow student activists to act against climate change, your green college impact will go much farther than just your dorm room.

College is a great experience. After all, you're responsible for getting yourself to classes, finding or making your own dinner, and meeting new individuals in an unfamiliar atmosphere. You get to decorate your dorm room as you see fit. There are many ways to bring a little personalization into your dorm room — and keep it eco-friendly at the same time.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.