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College dorms are notoriously dirty. After a particularly active weekend, even the strongest stomachs will cringe at the pungent beer odor crawling out of hallway carpets. Eau de Budweiser.

A lot of institutions support the myth that it takes the harshest cleaners to get out the harshest smells. The Housekeeping staff will use industrial strength cleaners that contain toxic Methylene Chloride and Sodium Hypochlorite, among other caustic ingredients. 

Not only are these chemicals potentially harmful to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system but they also take an unnecessary toll on the environment.

natural-cleanerThe market now offers a line of organic and natural cleaning products that are just as effective as conventional cleaners without the scary side-effects. These alternatives often use plant-based ingredients like soy and citrus extract, and forgo the typical ammonia component. Many of these products can be bought in bulk or in industrial sizes to accommodate large institutions.

Nature’s Source and Biokleen are two great options, each with a wide line of products to suit various cleaning needs. 

Students should encourage their administration to make the green clean switch, and should commit to natural cleaning products themselves. If a tight college budget doesn’t allow for these extra purchases, students can use solutions like baking soda and lemon juice to tidy up their immediate living area.

 

 

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My college is a small private institution in rural New England. We love our trees here. We love conserving land, we love nature, we love emitting the earthy-hippie vibe. 

And yet, ironically, we love love love our paper. In some ways, it’s the nature of the beast: college students must have a medium for reading and writing, and paper is the age-old option. paper-earth

But it’s getting a little ridiculous. As small as my college is (under 1000 students), we commission the killing of 288 trees a year just to serve our paper purposes.  That’s 1,152 trees in my college career. That’s an entire forest. And that equates to 12 TONS of paper waste once we’re through using it.

This is after integrating digital forums into our curriculum that would allow students and faculty to communicate through online copy. And after making an effort to encourage double-sided printing.  

If changing our consumption habits isn’t resolving the problem, we must at least change the nature of our use. By switching to 100% Recycled Paper, we could significantly reduce our environmental impact. Switching to soy-based and/or non-toxic ink products would have a positive effect as well.

[Information compiled by GreenRoutes, a community-based environmental research project based out of my institution]

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