Moving in Green

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Here at Iowa, we’re always thinking of ways to stay green and decrease our carbon footprint. We encourage incoming freshmen to help accomplish this goal by being green when moving to and living on campus. Want to know how you can help make Iowa a more sustainable campus? Here's a green packing list:

Green Packing List

What to Bring:

  • LED or CFL Light bulbs for any lamps you plan to bring
  • Power strips that will protect against energy consumption even when electronics are not in use
  • Bicycle, helmet, bike lock and lights
  • Reusable water bottle, cutlery, plates, napkins, bags, Tupperware, etc.
  • Natural laundry detergent and cleaning products
  • Energy Star certified electronics and appliances
  • House plants to improve air quality

Leave at Home:

  • Disposable items such as paper towels, plastic cutlery, paper plates, etc.
  • Don’t bring a car. You can walk, bike or take a Cambus anywhere on campus.
  • Unnecessary electrical appliances, such as printers. ITS provides printers at several locations across campus.
  • Incandescent light bulbs
  • Cleaning products and cosmetics that contain toxic ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, dyes, bleach and petroleum products.
  • Air freshener plug-ins.


  • Buy used items whenever possible. This will save you money, and decrease your carbon footprint.
  • If purchasing new, buy items with recycled content and/or that are local, fair trade or organic.
  • Pack with reusable containers such as laundry baskets and plastic bins. If you must use cardboard boxes, make sure to save or recycle them.

Get the PDF version of the Green Packing List!

See our Pinterest for more great green move-in ideas!

More Information

Energy-Efficient Essentials

Many college essentials have energy-efficient options to take advantage of. If you plan to bring a fridge – or any other appliance, for that matter – make sure it is Energy Star certified. Anything with this certification uses up less energy than appliances without it. Similarly, if you are planning on bringing any sort of lamp, consider using compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs instead of standard incandescent light bulbs as they both consume less energy than the standard.

However, even energy efficient appliances can cause “phantom loads,” so it is imperative to have at least one power strip with a switch. Many appliances sap energy while they are plugged in, even if they aren’t on, so completely cutting off the power to those appliances with the switch will help save the unused energy. Also please don’t bring any unnecessary devices like printers or plug-in air fresheners. There are multiple public printers on campus and simply bringing a potted plant or two will improve your room’s air quality immensely. While there are of course more measures to take to save energy with appliances, these are some of the biggest things you can do right from the get-go.


One of the most important questions to ask when coming to college is what to bring, and reusability should always be a concern. Washable dishware and reusable water bottles may seem like a splurge over plastic cups and water bottles, but they’ll more than make up for the initial cost in the long term since you won’t have to keep buying more. All of these items have reusable options you should consider:

  • Water bottles
  • Cutlery
  • Plates
  • Napkins/washcloths
  • Bags
  • Tupperware

Even packing is an opportunity to reuse. Instead of using cardboard boxes, consider packing your luggage in storage bins or laundry baskets, which you’ll undoubtedly use throughout the year. If you absolutely must use boxes, don’t just throw them out after you use them. Either break them down to recycle or keep them to use at a later time.

Buy Used

Your room should have enough furniture, but if you feel the need for an extra seat or table consider buying used instead of new. This will keep some open space in landfills and your wallet. Even buying new items can be environmentally conscious decision, but only if certain concerns are met. Items made with recycled content are good, as well as anything local, fair trade, or organic.

Green Cleaning

Many cleaning products can be made from natural materials, so keep an eye out for natural alternatives to these products:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish detergent
  • Soap

Get Around Campus

Once outside of your room there are multiple modes of transportation you can utilize to get around campus (and Iowa City as a whole) in style. While bringing a car seems like a great idea at first, you’ll find that parking can be a major headache and probably not worth the time, especially since there are many alternatives, such as

  • Biking
  • Cambus
  • Iowa City bus system
  • Zipcar
  • Walking

Biking is the transport of choice for many Iowa students and everyone is encouraged to bring one, along with its related safety equipment. If you choose to bring a bike make sure to include a helmet, bike lock, and safety lights.