Saturday, September 17, 2011

101 Ways to Go Green In Your Dorm Room

Just because you are living in a dorm while at college doesn’t mean you can’t also take care of the environment. Learn 101 ways you can go green in your dorm room, from creative uses for old textbooks to simple changes you can make when writing papers to decorating and furnishing your dorm. When you’ve finished reading this list, be sure to share it with others in your dorm.


Try these recycling ideas that you can take place right from your dorm room.

  1. Set up a recycling bin. Whether you put it in your room, floor, or for the whole dorm, set up a recycling center for glass, paper, and aluminum.
  2. Batteries. Don’t put these in the trash. Old batteries that go to landfills leak dangerous chemicals into the soil. Instead, turn them in to stores or recycling centers that accept old batteries.
  3. Rechargeable batteries. Using rechargeable batteries reduces the number of batteries that make their way into landfills.
  4. Community board. Have a "for sale" and "wanted" board in your dorm for getting ride of old thing or getting new ones.
  5. Recycled paper. Make an effort to only buy and use recycled paper.
  6. Mailing lists. If you are getting junk mail at school, take yourself off any unwanted mailing lists.
  7. Pay bills online. Receive and pay all your bills online to reduce the amount of paper coming in and going out.
  8. Cartridges. Recycle used ink jet cartridges. These can be refilled and reused.
  9. Bags. Reuse plastic and paper bags instead of throwing them away. Better yet, take reusable bags with you so you don’t end up with these disposable bags.

Books and Papers

Whether trying to figure out what to do with all those text books you have or learning how to use less paper for assignments, this list has plenty of great ideas.

  1. Book swap. Throw a book swap party in your dorm at the end of the semester so you can give your old books to students who may need them next semester. You can pick up books for your upcoming classes too.
  2. Donate. Donate your books to the local library when you are finished with them.
  3. Sell books on the Internet. This is a great way to make extra money from your books while ensuring they are reused.
  4. Art projects. Create art projects with your old books.
  5. Table legs. If your table lost a leg after that last party in your room, use a stack of old books to repair it.
  6. Book safe. Cut out the center of old text books to hide things like your iPod, extra cash, or other valuables you might not want sitting around in plain sight.
  7. Single spacing. If it is okay with your professors, when writing papers, use single spacing between lines to use less paper.
  8. Margin size. Reducing the margin size means you get more space on each page.
  9. Font size. While you don’t want to use an 8 or 9, reducing font size on your paper will keep the number of pages you use down.
  10. Scratch paper. Use the back of old papers or drafts as scratch paper.

Furnishing and Decorating

Don’t buy all new stuff to furnish and decorate your dorm room. Use these great ideas instead.

  1. Recycled desk. Use an old door propped across files cabinets to a create a unique desk that is practical, inexpensive, and recycled.
  2. Second hand stores. Buy furnishing and decorations for your room from second hand stores.
  3. craigslist. Check out craigslist to find furnishings for your dorm room. Check at the end of the semester to find plenty of items being sold by students leaving, then save them yourself for next semester.
  4. Freesharing. If you want to recycle and go super cheap, then look on Freesharing to find stuff for your room.
  5. Posters. Make posters or collages from old magazines.
  6. Photos. Decorate with personal photos.
  7. Photography class. If you or a friend have taken a photography class, use the photos from class to decorate the walls.


When you leave your dorm room, make sure you stay green, too.

  1. Public transportation. Campuses almost always have access to public transportation. Take advantage of it instead of hopping in the car every time you need to go somewhere.
  2. Walk. Walk to where you need to go. Not only will it help the Earth, but it will also help you stay in better physical condition.
  3. Bicycle. Bicycles are a great way to get around campus and beyond. They use no energy, are faster than walking, and are a great way to get exercise.
  4. Campus buses. If you live on a large campus, take advantage of the campus buses to get across campus.
  5. Carpool. Carpool with friends to places off campus such as restaurants, shopping, or parties.
  6. Ride share. If you are going home for the holidays, catch a ride or offer one to others so those of you going to the same place can go in one car.
  7. Bike share. Check into a bike sharing program on your campus or start one if there isn’t already one in place.


Whether you like to cook in your dorm room with simple appliances or would rather take these ideas and organize changes in your dining hall, the following suggestions are awesome ways to go green with your food.

  1. Community garden. Organize a community garden at your dorm. The food can be shared between those who participated in the garden or supplied to the dining hall.
  2. Rain water. Collect rain water off gutters and the roof to water your community garden.
  3. Compost. Create a compost for food scraps from both individuals and from the dining hall. This compost can also be used in the community garden.
  4. Purchase locally. Purchase from local grocery stores. If the local stores don’t have a location within walking distance, ask them to consider a campus-accessible store.
  5. Eat basic. Eating things low on the food chain means you are getting food close to the source and without lots of added chemicals.
  6. Eat locally. Eat locally grown food that don’t require lots of trucking to get them to you.
  7. Eat organically. Organic food keeps pesticides and other chemicals out of your body and out of the land.
  8. Seafood. Purchasing or eating only sustainable seafood will help the overfished seas repopulate and keep dangerous mercury out of your body.
  9. Buy in bulk. Bulk products are usually packaged with less packaging material. If you buy bulk, you can go in with other students in your dorm to share expenses.
  10. Drink tap water. Skip the bottled water and drink tap water. Bottled water adds extra packaging, not to mention all the energy involved in shipping the product.
  11. Water bottle. Use a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water.
  12. Skip the produce packaging. Some stores already have stopped packaging their produce. You can do the same by leaving those individual plastic bags for produce behind. If you really have produce that needs to be contained, use reuseable bags.

Saving Energy

Saving energy in your dorm is super easy to do. Read on to learn how.

  1. Sleep computers. Put computers in sleep mode after 15 minutes and turn them off at night.
  2. Power strips. Use power strips to turn everything off when you are not in your room.
  3. Chargers. Chargers for cell phone, video games, and other rechargeable devices drain electricity even when they are not charging the electronic device. Unplug them when not in use.
  4. Light bulbs. Change out the light bulbs in your room to use energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs.
  5. Energy efficient devices. Most devices will indicate if they are energy efficient, so try to buy only energy efficient electronics, refrigerators, and other devices for use in your dorm room.
  6. Turn it down. Turn down the air conditioner or heater when away for long periods of time. Turning it off completely will use more energy when you return, so just turn it down about 10 degrees from what you would normally find comfortable.
  7. Natural light. Use natural light to replace electric lighting when ever possible. If you are getting great natural light from your windows, make sure your overhead lights are turned off.

Saving Water

Save water in your dorm by following these easy suggestions.

  1. Showers. Take shorter showers to use less water and less energy to heat the water.
  2. Turn it off. Turn water off while brushing teeth or shaving.
  3. Shower head. While it might not be an expense you want to shell out for the dorm, switching your shower head to a low flow version will use less water. You can always switch the old one back when you move and take the low flow head with you.
  4. Toilets. If your dorm still has old toilets that use tons of water, try to get the school to replace them with low flow toilets. Not only will they use less water, they will save the school money in the long run.
  5. Report leaks. Immediately report any dripping toilet, sink or shower to maintenance.
  6. Laundry. Wash laundry in cold water. Unless you have stubborn stains or odors, cold water will get your clothes clean and avoid the energy expense of heating the water.
  7. Full loads of laundry. When you do laundry, make sure you are washing full loads. Throwing just a few clothes in for a wash wastes water.

Housekeeping and Personal Care

Most of the products sold for cleaning and personal care are filled with chemicals, use lots of packaging, and all require manufacturing and transportation. Try these eco-friendly alternatives instead.

  1. Natural cleaning supplies. Make your own cleaning supplies to clean up around your dorm. Baking soda and vinegar can clean almost anything.
  2. Skip the dryer sheets. Don’t use dryer sheets when drying laundry. If you really want a fresh smell, put a few drops of an essential oil on a wash cloth and throw it in the dryer.
  3. Dusting clothes. Don’t purchase one-time-use dusting clothes. Use an old wash cloth or an old piece of clothing that can be reused as a cleaning cloth.
  4. Hair conditioner. Make your own hair conditioner instead of buying from the store.
  5. Facials. Make you own facial scrubs. Then share your recipe and have a girls’ night of pampering that is both green and inexpensive.
  6. Body scrub. Don’t invest a lot of money in body scrubs from the store. With just a bit of oil, sugar or salt, and a few drops of essential oil for scent, you can have your own body scrub.
  7. Toothpaste. Toothpaste can be as easy as baking soda and water. Save the expense, packaging, and transportation costs for the tube from the store.
  8. Mouth wash. Make your own eco-friendly mouthwash.
  9. Eco-friendly products. If making your own products isn’t for you, be sure you use eco-friendly body products.

Green Products

When you have to make purchases, make sure they are friendly for the environment. This list will get you started.

  1. Clothes. Skip the big box stores and purchase eco-friendly clothing.
  2. Shoes. There are plenty of stylish, high-quality shoes that are also eco-friendly shoes.
  3. Hand bags. Ladies, purchase or make a recycled hand bag for a truly one-of-a-kind.
  4. Bamboo keyboard and mouse. Bamboo is a sustainable product and great for the environment. Instead of buying a traditional mouse and keyboard, check into buyingbamboo versions.
  5. Heated gloves. These gloves are heated through a USB that plugs into your computer and allows you to keep your dorm room colder in the winter without all the discomfort of typing with frozen hands.
  6. iGo Power Smart Wall. Plug this device into the wall, then plug your computer, cell phone charger, or other device into it to reduce standby power by up to 85%.
  7. Solar charging. Charge your iPhone with a solar charger and skip the electrical current from the wall altogether.


Find plenty of other great ways to go green here.

  1. Stay informed. Keep yourself informed by reading eco blogs.
  2. Smart purchasing. Make an effort to only buy things that your really need.
  3. Take advantage of your small space. Living in a dorm, you have limited space, so use this time to practice reducing waste and curbing consumerism.
  4. Use green iPhone apps. Take advantage of all the green iPhone apps available to help you go and stay green.
  5. Be aware of packaging. Make an effort to buy things that have less packaging.
  6. Have a slow holiday. The slow movement has become popular and even extends to holidays and other gift-giving occasions. Slow holidays mean making gifts, cooking simple foods for celebrations, and spending quality time with loved ones.
  7. Check out other green dorms. The University of Virginia has green dorm rooms on display. Check these out to become inspired for your own green dorm.
  8. Have a green move. Whether you are moving in or out of your dorm, make sure your move is a green one.

Green Organizations

Volunteer your time or just read these groups’ websites to stay educated and involved with plenty of work that is going on for the environment.

  1. Earth Day Network. This organization not only sponsors the annual Earth Day celebrations, it also provides tons of resources, programs, and information.
  2. National Geographic Society. National Geographic is an awesome resource for learning about nature, conservation, and issues surrounding the environment. This group was one of the original green groups.
  3. ClimateScienceWatch. Check out the thoughtful pieces included here that keep the public informed and government in check when it comes to climate science.
  4. Fuel Economy. Whether you are trying to learn how to do without a car or would just like to discover ways to use your car more environmentally-responsibly, you should take a look at the information here.
  5. National Wildlife Federation. If you passion lies in helping wildlife, then visit this site to learn about wildlife in America and how you can make a difference in protecting that wildlife.
  6. New American Dream. Learn how the purchases you make impact people and the environment on a global level with the information here.
  7. World Wildlife Fund. This group educates visitors to the website about endangered species, climate science, and more.
  8. The Nature Conservancy. This organization offers many ways to get involved to help conserve land and nature that is at risk.
  9. The Earth Organization. Get tons of resources to learn how to take care of the Earth responsibly from this organization.
  10. Natural Resources Defense Council. Whether you are interested in learning about clean energy, wildlife protection, global warming, or ocean protection, you can find it all here.
  11. National Coalition for Marine Conservation. If your passion is to help save inhabitants of the oceans and their environment, then you should visit this organization’s website.

Green Games and Tools

Play these serious games for a great way to kill some time in your dorm room when you need a break from studying or use the tools to measure your ecological impact.

  1. Global Warming Interactive. This multi-user educational game helps teach about the impact specific actions taken by political, economic, and scientific factions have on climate change and the environment.
  2. WolfQuest. Find out what it’s like to live as a wolf in Yellowstone National Park when you play this game.
  3. PowerUp. Save Planet Helios from ecological disaster in this game.
  4. LogiCity. This 3D game gets players involved in learning how to reduce an individual carbon footprint and and is specifically designed for people 25 and under.
  5. Ecological Footprint Quiz. Take this quiz that will not only show how you compare when it comes to your carbon footprint, but also educates you on how to improve.
  6. Event Calculator. If you are sponsoring or taking part in a special event that involves lots of people, find out how much of an impact it makes on the environment.
  7. Travel Calculator. Learn how much of an ecological impact your travels to and from campus or that Spring Break trip have on the Earth.

Recycle Used Plastic Bags (Even Ziploc Sandwich Bags)

Plastic storage bags may be easy and convenient, but they're also disposable and wasteful. We often toss sandwich and freezer bags after using them only once, tossing those fossil fuel-derived plastics into landfills and incinerators. However, now we have the option of recycling these bags at any plastic bag-recycling bin, like those now found at many grocery stores and supermarkets. That's right – those bins we all thought were for plastic shopping bags are good for other plastic bags, too, according to a Ziploc spokesman.

A recent partnership between Ziploc and RecycleBank means consumers can claim rewards for each Ziploc bag they recycle. RecycleBank rewards individuals for being green by assigning points for recycling and other actions. The points can be redeemed for rewards like gift cards and discounted products, similar to the way the rewards systems work on many credit cards.

So, if you can't reuse plastic storage bags, clean and dry them, then recycle them along with any other plastic bags you have cluttering up the kitchen in a supermarket recycling bin.

12 Ways To Turn Green Intentions Into Green Actions

Eighty-two percent of consumers have good green intentions, but only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling these intentions, according to an Ogilvy study. This puts 66% in what is called the “Middle Green,” a group that is neither active environment crusaders nor anti-greens. These are the massive middle, the everyday mainstream consumers.

The big question is, “Why don’t mainstream consumers turn their green intentions into green actions and what can be done about it?” This is what Ogilvy & Mather tried to find out. “If we are to motivate a mass green movement, perhaps those of us most committed to the green movement need to stop trying to get the masses to see things our way and instead get better at seeing things their way.”

OgilveyEarth, the sustainability practice of the Manhattan based multinational marketing firm, conducted a research by surveying 1,800 Americans, trying to understand why there is a disconnect between consumer intentions and actions and how we can help bridge this gap.

The 129-page research report (PDF) contains many fascinating insights. While the research was conducted in America, I think the findings and recommendations are quite applicable to most Western societies.

I have summarized 12 key points that can help middle-of-the-road mainstream consumers turn their green intentions into green actions:

  1. Make green normal: Mainstream consumers are reluctant to go green because they don’t want to be seen as ideological crusaders. Going green attracts unwanted attention from their families, friends, colleagues, and neighbours as if they have adopted a new identity and that they no longer belong to the main group. Marketers should make consumers feel like everybody’s doing it. Show them numerous cases where other people just like them are also going green. Make middle-of-the-road mainstream consumers feel going green is normal behaviour, not oddball behaviour.
  2. Make it personal: Don’t focus on the benefits for the planet or future generations, but on the benefits for them personally, e.g. less toxin going into their body
  3. Make green choice the default: Green is not an optional extra. Don’t ask consumers choose to go green. Green should be the default choice. For example, make no plastic shopping bag the default, allow consumers to pay extra for one. They don’t need to choose to be green because green is the default, they need to choose to be non-green.
  4. Remove price premium: Where possible, remove the price premium for green products. The message should be green is normal, not just for the rich.
  5. Bribe shamelessly: Offer treats along the way of their behavioural change, e.g. prizes, kudos, rewards, gold stars, public recognition.
  6. Punish wisely: Small doses of guilt and shame can motivate behavioural changes, especially if they are also reminded of the green options available to them.
  7. Don’t stop innovating: Make better stuff. Consumers are reluctant to sacrifice performance for sustainability.
  8. Lose the crunch: Green marketing needs to be more mainstream hip than off-the-grid hippie. Market green as one of the secondary features instead of the leading feature: “Great performance, also friendly to the environment.” Many consumers assume products with a primary focus on being green to have subpar performance, cost more, and are geared towards hippies.
  9. Turn eco-friendly into ego-friendly: Green marketing often has a feminine image. Girly green needs a manly counterpart.
  10. Make it tangible: Toyota Prius displays real time fuel economy information on the dashboard.
  11. Make it easy to navigate: Design labels to be simple and clear. Consumers are often confused and suspicious to environmental claims.
  12. Tap into hedonism over altruism: Project an experience and image that is fun and exciting to be in a sustainable world rather than projecting it as an act of ‘charitable’ contribution.

Friday, September 9, 2011

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10 ways to go green and save green

Save energy to save money.

  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
  • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying

Save water to save money.

  • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
  • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
  • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

Less gas = more money (and better health!).

  • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
  • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
  • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic

Eat smart.

Skip the bottled water.

Think before you buy.

  • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
  • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
  • When making purchases, make sure you know what's "Good Stuff" and what isn't.
  • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse

Borrow instead of buying.

  • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
  • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

Buy smart.

  • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
  • Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
  • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!

Keep electronics out of the trash.

Make your own cleaning supplies.

  • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
  • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality

Thursday, September 8, 2011


This is the basic process to use to stabilize any honeycombed structure, It is the injection into the structure of various materials which settle down in the cracks crevices and honeycombs and harden in the same making the structure denser and therefore watertight

Grouting Materials

This is the most common. However it has many disadvantages.

  • Does not get water after being grouted into the structure and therefore does not hydrate and gain strength,
  • Shrinks on losing water and therefore does not adhere well and naturally lets water through.

They are cost effective only when some structural restoration is to be done otherwise

  • They are too expensive
  • Are difficult to handle

Polymer Modified Cementatious Grouts
These are quick setting cements, which are admixed with fluidifiers, bonding agents, and expansive agents, which together help the grout to travel in the body of the concrete. They enable it to bond well with the cavities and by virtue of expansive action do not leave any weak points for water to penetrate.

Liquid Grouts
These are probably the best since they solidify on contact with water and therefore have very low rejection rate and also can penetrate even where the smallest particle of grout cannot resulting in very high degree of water tightness. This category is quite expensive to use and may be used as a supplement to the grouting with polymer modified grouts.


The process of injection grouting consists of the following steps.

  • Making of the holes in the structure
    Make the holes for the fixing of the nozzles always with a hammer and chisel and never with a drill machine since dust dislodged during drilling blocks the entrance to the porosity. Make the holes at every 0.75m2 for the concrete structure in a grid pattern and for the brick walls at every alternate joint.

(Click to Enlarge)

  • Fixing of the nozzles in the same.
    Always fix these after keeping a piece of stone aggregate below the nozzle in the hole made as above. This ensures that there is a cavity below the nozzle, in which the grout can go and accumulate and exert pressure on the side. Fix with a 1:3 mortar and cure for one day before grouting .If not properly fixed the nozzle will come out when pressure is exerted on them.
  • Injection grouting
    Always grout in batches of twenty five to thirty nozzles. First inject water in all nozzles. This will clean the pathway for the grout as well as ensure the wetting of the cavities

    Prepare the slurry in the first batch slurry with the material in 18-20 liters of water per bag of grout and then inject at a pressure of 140 psi for concrete and 40 psi for brick.. Just as this grouting is over for one batch of nozzles prepare second slurry with 14-16 liters of water per bag of grout and then reinject. Just as this stage is over further prepare slurry at 12-14 liters of water per bag of grout and reinject. Use a 140-psi machine for concrete and a 40 psi one for brick.
  • Removal of the nozzles
    Just after the grouting is over dislodge nozzles from their place by lightly stroking with a hammer. In case they are not easily dislodged leave in place and later cut with a welding machine.
  • filling of the holes
    Fill the holes formed or the tips jutting out with a polymer mortar over polymer slurry cure adequately FOR THREE DAYS. Often if this curing is not done cracks develop around the repair of the hole leading to weak points getting formed.


Essentially a polymer modified mortar is a normal mortar in which whole or part of the water is replaced by a polymer latex which gives it various additional properties like adhesion, cohesion, strength and as a concomitant of the same water tightness.

The method for making a polymer mortar is to mix one part of coacrylic polymer latex with two parts of water and then use the liquid so formed as a gauging liquid for making a cement sand mortar. A polymer modified bonding slurry can also be similarly made with pure cement being added to this gauging liquid.

To repair a surface with polymer modified mortar

  • clean it with wire brush ,

  • further clean it with an air jet or water stream

  • apply the polymer mortar on top of the polymer slurry made as above wet on wet basis.

This is a technique to be used for filling of cold joints, repair to areas of weak concrete and also to fill the holes made after removing the nozzles after grouting.

The materials to be used for the modification will range between PVA, coacrylic polymer mortars and SBR. These are in order of cost and effectiveness and for most common uses coacrylic latex based materials are sufficient.


Ferrocementing is an age-old practice and till the advent of the current crop of plastic tanks this as the most preferred system for making water tanks. Ferrocement is basically a reinforced rich plaster cast at a low water cement ratio and cured extensively to get high strength and impermeability.

The system for installing the same is

  • Nail wire mesh (for this use 26SWG ½”mesh) onto the surfaces in two layers
  • Impregnate by hand matrix so formed with a 1:2 mortar at a low water cement ratio over polymer bond slurry.
  • Profusely water to get a very hard surface.
  • Finish plaster with a 1:4 mortar.
This technique would find the most use wherever there is weak concrete or wherever the brick walls have to be waterproofed against pressure. Since the use of this technique for waterproofing is recent there are no fixed guidelines for this.