Back to College With Bamboo: Your Guide to Sustainable Dorm Living

College dorm room; back to college with sustainable bamboo

Heading off to college is a time of excitement about the possibilities ahead. It can be such a positive experience, except when it comes to the amount of trash generated by kids on campus.

The average college student creates over 640 pounds of waste each year. This is surprising given that 92% of college students feel their university should promote and incorporate sustainability.

An easy solution is to switch to an eco-friendly material like bamboo for items needed during the school year. You’ll eliminate single-use plastic, save money, and even enjoy a less toxic living environment.

In This Article
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    Why Bamboo Is a Great Choice for College Students

    When preparing for college, you’ll find a lot of choices for outfitting your dorm room. Bamboo is a great choice for taking to college because it’s durable and long-lasting. It can be reused so you can keep or donate your items when finished, but it is also highly compostable. If your items are worn out or end up in the trash, they’ll at least break down much more quickly than plastic.

    Unlike harmful plastic, bamboo is non-toxic and is a renewable resource. A single bamboo plant can be harvested every 4-5 years for up to 30 years!

    What to Consider When Buying Bamboo Products for Your Dorm

    Let’s get to the fun stuff. What do you need when moving into a dorm or college apartment? The easiest way to prepare is to consider the different aspects of your living arrangement.

    First, consider what you need in your dorm. I remember moving into my freshman dorm it was basically a big brick square. To make our room more comfortable, we added a rug, layers of blankets and even a little plant stand near our lone window. Thinking about the comforts of home will help you feel less homesick.

    While I did get along with my roommates, personal space was very limited. Dividing our room with our desks and other furniture made it easier to feel like I had my own place to relax. Think about what you may need to create an oasis in your home away from home.

    Finally, remember you may not have access to a private kitchen or bathroom. Having a few items on hand for quick meals or to make your trips to the shower more convenient will make your shared living area a bit more bearable.

    What Bamboo Products Should You Bring to College

    It can be tough to decide what to pack for college. With limited space, make sure your items will be used regularly and last through the entire school year. Bamboo can take you from morning to night for an entirely eco-friendly college experience.

    Bamboo Furniture and Decor

    The first thing to consider is how to set up your room. You’ll want a place to rest and relax and somewhere comfortable to study. Even with limited space, it’s possible to create a comfortable homework spot all your own.

    Bamboo Room Divider

    Remember what I said about personal space? You may know your roommate or you may be tossed into living with a stranger on campus. Either way, you’re going to want a little privacy. The best (and most stylish) way to do this is with a bamboo room divider. My top pick is the Alexisa bamboo/rattan folding room divider. Ith four panels and two-way hinges, it can be customized to create a private space or split your room right down the center. Plus the woven texture will give your room a bit of sophistication.

    Bamboo Bookshelf

    Keep your books within reach with a bamboo bookshelf. The Doorless Bookcase from MoNiBloom is simple and compact and doubles as a nightstand if you’re in tight quarters. With three shelves there’s plenty of room for textbooks and your favorite bedtime stories. Love to read and need more space? You can opt for the 4 or 6 shelve version.

    Bamboo Floor Lamp

    All those books won’t read themselves and overhead lighting for reading is just – yuck. Save your eyesight and add some sustainable style with a bamboo floor lamp. My top pick for college living is the Mainstays Rice Paper Shade Floor Lamp because of its slim design and lightweight build that make it easy to move when you rearrange your dorm for the 17th time.

    Bamboo Personal Care

    College is the ideal place to make new friends and possibly your future romantic partner. Keep yourself and the earth a little cleaner with these key items for your morning (or evening) routine.

    Bamboo Towel

    If quality and luxury are important to you, you simply cannot go without the Premium Plush Bath Towels from Cozy Earth. If you close your eyes you may just think you’re at a spa instead of a dorm bathroom. These bamboo bath towels are woven from bamboo viscose with no harmful chemicals. Even better, they’re ultra-absorbent and odor resistant. Perfect for a college student who wants to use the same towel day after day to avoid their pile of laundry.

    Bamboo Shower Caddy

    When you’re living in the dorms with shared bathrooms, you want your items clearly divided so your annoying neighbor isn’t using all your favorite body wash (I know it was you, Susan!). We can’t recommend the bamboo shower caddy from Honey-Can-Do enough. It’s one of our favorite bamboo shower caddies for college students because it features three levels to hold your products and hangs right from the shower head so there’s no permanent drilling into the walls.

    Bamboo Robe

    Don’t be caught walking the halls in just a towel. Wrap yourself up after your shower or relax in your dorm in pillowy softness with this bamboo robe from Cariloha. It’s a unisex fit and you can choose from white or dark graphite. A bamboo robe may seem like a luxury when you have limited space, but you’ll soon find it’s necessary for comfort and privacy.

    You’ll want to get in and out of your shared bathroom quickly so don’t forget to grab your bamboo toothbrush and bamboo hairbrush when headed in for your daily clean-up!

    Bamboo Desk Accessories

    Let’s pretend you’re going to get all your homework done on time and not in the middle of the night before it’s due. Even if that is your study habit, you can make things easier and more productive with the proper study space in place.

    Bamboo Desk

    To make mom happy, you might want to prioritize a bamboo desk. Many dorms will come with a desk, but if yours doesn’t or if you’re opting for apartment living this semester, you’ll want to take a look at the ANFALLARE / ADILS desk from Ikea. It’s a compact size and very budget-friendly, perfect for dorm life.

    Bamboo Drawer Organizer

    Having an organized desk is easy with the right bamboo drawer organizer. Never lose your syllabus, USB, or favorite pen again with the Seville Classics 10-Piece Bamboo Storage Box Organizer Set. Each piece is separate so you can arrange them however you like for the ultimate versatility.

    Bamboo Keyboard

    A bamboo keyboard may seem like an oxymoron, but we like to think of it as the ultimate in sustainable tech. Your desk will be the talk of the study group with the Wireless Bamboo Keyboard and Mouse from Trio Gato. The smooth bamboo keys are as comfortable as they are durable and the Bluetooth connection makes it easy to write those essays right from your bed.

    Bamboo Dishes and Serveware

    Whether you like a quick study snack or a full-on dinner in your dorm, you’ll want to pack up some sustainable dishes for heating and serving your favorite meals.

    Bamboo Plates and Napkins

    Any experienced college student knows study breaks call of pizza. Don’t miss out on this tradition to save the environment from disposable paper or plastic plates. Just use bamboo! Bamboo plates are reusable and durable enough last through the school year. Don’t worry about the mess with a set of Veneerware Bamboo Plates. They’re disposable, but are made from 100% certified organic bamboo so they’ll decompose in as little as 4 months. That’s a whole lot more eco-friendly than plastic plates that may still exist in a landfill after 500 years.

    Bamboo Flatware

    Don’t fall into the trap of buying disposable plastic flatware. Plastic is made from nonrenewable resources, so those forks and spoons can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Bamboo flatware is an excellent alternative and I recommend the Reusable Bamboo Cutlery Set from Seek Bamboo. With a bamboo fork, knife, spoon, set of chopsticks, and a straw you’ll have everything to need for dorm room dining.

    Bamboo Water Bottle

    You’re probably aware of the impact plastic bottles have on the environment. They use 17 billion barrels of crude oil to produce and fewer than 9% are ever recycled.

    Making the switch to a bamboo water bottle will save over 167 plastic water bottles from our landfills and waterways each year. To stay hydrated during class and while playing frisbee on the quad, grab the Welly Flip Cap Traveler. With a wide mouth for ice cubes and triple-walled vacuum insulation, your drinks will stay cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 14. Made with a combination of 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, bamboo, BPA-free plastic, and silicon, it’s the ultimate reusable water bottle you’ll never leave home without.

    Bamboo Bedding

    Bamboo Sheets

    All that partying studying can really wear you out! Ready for bed? Snuggle into an eco-friendly dream with these bamboo sheets from Cariloha. Made from bamboo viscose, they’re as soft as cotton and stay up to three degrees cooler. You might want to keep a second set of bamboo sheets on hand so you can do a quick change before you lug your laundry home for mom to wash.

    Bamboo Mattress Pad

    You’ll want to add an extra layer of comfort and protection with a bamboo mattress pad. Let’s face it, college mattresses are not top quality and while they’re cleaned between students, they’ve been around a while. Adding this bamboo mattress pad from Cozy Earth will help keep the nights of students past away from your skin while helping to keep you cool at night. It’s breathable, moisture-wicking, and was described by Oprah as the softest bedding ever.

    Bamboo Pillow

    Shared living spaces can bring in unnecessary allergens. Bamboo pillows are a great alternative to synthetic fill because they’re breathable and hypoallergenic. Top your bed off with The Original Bamboo Pillow from Coop. It comes with a machine washable cover and is GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US® certified. You’ll be saved from formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals traditionally used in pillows. Bamboo pillows will help you get a quality night’s sleep that will have you ready for finals.

    Head Back to College Sustainability With Bamboo

    Whether you’re a straight-A overachiever or more interested in your social life on campus, there’s no reason you can’t be the most sustainable student on campus. Choosing items made from bamboo will help you cut down on waste, keep your dorm room free of nasty chemicals, and give you some of the comforts of home. Happy studying!


    • Renee Beaman

      Renee is a freelance copywriter for businesses and nonprofits that advocate for sustainability, conservation, animal welfare, and health & wellness.

      Her passion for the planet started while growing up in Minnesota surrounded by animals and nature. She now enjoys spending summers at the lake and winters at the ice rink with plenty of yoga, baking, and exploring with her family in between.

      Renee met Mike through a mutual friend and knew writing for Bamboo Goods was the perfect fit. She loves to educate customers on sustainable choices that fit their lifestyle and has (probably) too much fun sharing her eco-friendly tips.

      You can find her writing for purpose-driven businesses at

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