AH, DORM LIFE: cramped space, bad food, and--what's this?--solar panels. Schools around the globe have taken to greening campus housing with innovations such as renewable energy, recycled building materials, and composting facilities. Last year 318 students at California's Pitzer College moved into a new residence hall that has rooftop gardens, solar panels, and low-flow showers and toilets. Most building materials, including lumber and metal, came from within 200 miles of the campus.
Shopping (and Scavenging) List
Reusable mugs, plates, and silverware
Paper products make up the largest portion of municipal solid waste. Bonus: You won't have to take out the trash as often. Where to find them:craigslist.org, freecycle.org,
home supply stores
Veggie-based and concentrated cleaners
Concentrated solutions use less packaging and require less energy to transport than typical detergents. Look for plant-based ingredients to avoid spending your dollars on fossil fuels. Where to find them: Drug and natural-foods stores, Staples, Whole Foods
Linens and towels made of bamboo, hemp, or organic cotton
Conventionally grown cotton uses a whopping 25 percent of the world's insecticides every year. Where to find them: Bed Bath & Beyond, gaiam.com, Macy's, Pottery Barn
Skip the gas-guzzlers (and maybe the freshman 15) with emissions-free wheels. Where to find them:craigslist.org, local bike shops, Target
At Kentucky's Berea College, 50 to 100 students live in the Ecovillage, a group of apartments and learning facilities built around a permaculture food forest (where food grows among trees instead of on a cleared swath of land), vegetable gardens, and a wastewater-recycling system.
Across the pond, Amsterdam's Tempohousing mods old shipping containers to make prefab temporary housing. Shipping containers? Prefab? The results are far from dreary. Two years ago the innovative recycler built a 1,000-unit student housing project from containers painted bright red, with floor-to-ceiling windows at either end. —Katie Mathis