Dorms & Shared Living Spaces
Sharing a living space is hard enough as is, and so it’s understandable that the prospect of having and the work needed to have an environmentally friendly dorm or shared home scares away most people. Although a daunting task, having an environmentally conscious living situation with roommates can be possible. The main thing you’ll have to keep in mind is compromise, along with baby steps of course. Making lifestyle changes is not easy to everyone, so it’s important to understand that it may take a while for the people you live with to adopt new habits. The best thing you can do is encourage them and support them in their achievements, no matter how small you may think it is.
Even though it’s better for the environment and for your wallet to make environmentally conscious changes, your roommates may not be up for changing anything. In that case, its your responsibility to accept their choices and let it be; focus on what changes you can make to your things while in that living situation. Whether you just compost your food scraps or you sort out the recycling from the trash, the change must not force your roommates to do something they do not consent to. Whatever you do, make the best of your situation and avoid worrying over the things you cannot change.
Below, I’ve listed out examples of different changes that can be made to a shared living space to reduce its carbon footprint.
How to eco your home with roommates:
- Grow herbs you use frequently if you have a particularly sunny window
- If not, purchase your herbs and spices in bulk
- Focus on your waste stream and avoid plastics and disposables
- Cook as many meals as possible from scratch
- Take shorter showers
- Turn off or adjust the A/C or heat when you’re home alone
- Sort the recycling
- Switch to more sustainable health and hygiene products
- Use resuable bags when shopping with your roommates to help them avoid waste
- Contact junk mail companies and tell them to stop sending your household junk mail
- Switch the bills you’re responsible for to digital
- DIY things
- Repair things that break
- Offer to take over the most wasteful responsibilities of the home so you can control how wasteful it is
- If a roommate if fond of using a certain disposable product, gift them a more sustainable one for them to see if they like it (but don’t force them to use it)
- When its your turn to purchase cleaning supplies, purchase more sustainable (but easy to use) ones
- Make a yummy Meatless Monday dish to share with your roommates
Alane Ertel is a graduate from the MPH program at the University of North Florida, and was an Intern at their Environmental Center during the creation of this project. Alane’s goal in creating this project is to increase awareness of environmental issues, spread zero/low waste practices, and improve environmental and human health by utilizing her passions for the environment and for creating a healthier society.