Sustainability

Green Packing List

Before coming to Brown in the fall, check out our green packing list below to learn how you can make sustainable purchases, where you can find green products, and what you can get for free at Brown.

Before you head out to any stores, we first recommend that you take stock of all the free and/or sustainable resources at Brown that will help you prepare for the fall semester. Once you’ve exhausted all of these resources, see below for some tips on what you can buy and where you can buy it locally to live a green existence at Brown.

Resources provided by Brown

This Facebook group allows students to buy, sell or trade books. This is considerably cheaper than Amazon or Chegg, plus there's no shipping necessary. You can often find textbooks online as well.

Printers can be expensive and hard to transport and store (and refilling ink cartridges is always a hassle). Luckily, you don’t need to buy a printer before coming to Brown. All Brown students receive $30 of free printing each year at any library (at only 7 cents per sheet, that’s a lot of printing). You can set up your laptop to print straight to any network printer. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not you’d like to buy a printer.

All on-campus students are given a recycling bin for their room. Brown’s Facilities Management Custodial Services ensures that all students have a bin. If, however, you need to request a bin, contact [email protected].

Providence drinking water is rated among the best and cleanest water in the nation.

Interested in taking visual art courses or classes at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)? Second Life is the RISD student-run secondhand art supply store. (Open to anyone, not just RISD students.)

Available at the Brown Bookstore

All first-year students receive a free LED light bulb from the Office of Sustainability in Facilities when they move in.

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreAdler’s HardwareTargetHome DepotBed Bath and Beyond

Environmental benefits:

  • Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) lighting uses up to 70% less electricity than normal incandescent light bulbs.
  • LEDs use at least 75% less electricity than incandescent light bulbs.
  • LEDs stay 90% cooler than incandescents, thus reducing the risk of fire or burnt fingers.
  • CFLs and LEDs last 10-25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs, thus reducing waste.
Average cost

CFLs - $1 and up / LEDs - $1 and up

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreTargetBed Bath and BeyondHome Depot

Environmental benefits:

  • Used twice per week for an hour each time, one clothes dryer consumes 420 kW of electricity each year. Air-drying your clothes saves all of this energy.
  • Not to mention, air-drying your clothes saves $1.50 per load. If you do laundry once a week all year, that’s almost $50 saved.
Average cost

$15-$25

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreTargetWhole FoodsEastside Marketplace

Environmental benefits:

  • Personal care products such as deodorant, toothpaste and makeup often contain potentially harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed into the body, cause skin irritation or lead to environmental contamination.
  • To protect yourself and the environment, purchase all-natural and/or organic personal care products such as Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, etc.
  • Check EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database to find out if there are harmful chemicals in your personal care products.

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreWhole FoodsTarget

Environmental benefits

  • The vast majority of detergents, particularly the brand-name ones, are not biodegradable. They contain chemicals such as optical brighteners, dyes, artificial fragrances and a number of other non-natural ingredients.
  • Plant-based detergents are biodegradable and do not have these additives, which means chemicals do not end up in our environment, on your clothes and on your body.
Average cost

$8-$20

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreStaplesWhole Foods

Environmental benefits:

  • Use less paper and harm fewer trees
  • Though it is somewhat more expensive than normal paper and notebooks, buying recycled materials is a great way to support green companies and recycling markets if you have the resources.
  • For example, Decomposition Books sold in the Brown Bookstore are made with 100% post-consumer waste, recycled paper, printed with soy ink and made in the U.S.
Average cost

$4-$20 depending on the amount purchased

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreStaples

Environmental benefits:

  • Just think about it: Every time that your pen runs out of ink, you throw the whole thing away. But why? Refillable pens allow you to keep using a single pen for an extended period of time.
  • Using refillable pens will help you reduce the amount of waste you generate. Just think about the number of pens you go through each semester.
Average cost

$4-$20, depending on the amount purchased

You can also get cheap used dishes and silverware from secondhand stores such as Savers and Salvation Army.

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreBed Bath and Beyond

Environmental benefits:

  • Purchasing a set of reusable dishware could help you avoid using disposable (paper, plastic, styrofoam) dishware and utensils all year. You can also bring your dishware to Jo’s or Andrews Commons to reduce the consumption of disposable plates.
  • The process of creating disposable dishware and plastic utensils requires a constant flow of natural resources (oil, electricity, water, trees, etc.).

Available at:

You can pick up a free canvas bag at the Campus Resource Fair.

Environmental benefits:

  • Save sea turtles and other sea creatures who eat or are otherwise harmed by the plastic bags that end up in the ocean.
  • Astonishingly, approximately 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. That’s over 1 million bags per minute. Each one of those bags takes over 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill. Here in Rhode Island, our landfill is going to be full within the next 20 years at the rate we’re going, so plastic bags are a huge problem.
  • Producing plastic bags requires oil — the amount of oil used to produce 14 bags would drive a car 1 mile.
Average cost

$1-$20

Environmental and personal benefits associated with using a reusable water bottle include: saving money and decreasing the need for plastic to be created, (which involves large quantities of oil and other toxic chemicals). Reusable bottles also reduce the amount of plastic entering the waste stream. Remember, even plastic that is recycled takes some energy to revert it back to another plastic product.

You can also save energy by turning off or unplugging normal power strips when they aren’t being used.

Available at:

Brown University BookstoreAdler’s HardwareStaplesHome Depot

Environmental benefits:

  • Smart power strips prevent phantom loads (energy being used even if your technology is not on) while giving you the ability to leave electronics, appliances, etc. plugged in.
  • Smart strips know when your computer has been turned off or has gone to sleep and automatically powers down accessories such as speakers, printers and monitors. Avoid the hassle of unplugging devices that aren’t in use by using a smart power strip.
Average cost

$25-$50

Available from Other Sources

You can also get cheaper used bikes through Recycle-A-Bike, on Craigslist or on the Local Bike Trader website. Or, rent a bike for free for a week through [email protected].

Available at:

Legend BicycleBrown University Bookstore (locks and gear only), REI

Environmental benefits:

  • Not using a car. The average car generates 19.4 lbs of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas it consumes.
  • Biking is great for your health and a fun way to explore areas of Providence you may not be able to get to walking. Biking also can help you get around campus more quickly and efficiently.

Available at:

  • Energy Star appliances: Home DepotTarget
  • Or, Brown Student Agencies rents out microwave/fridge combos to students. Be sure to ask for an Energy Star model. Renting a fridge saves on the raw materials and energy required to make a new appliance.

Environmental benefits:

  • Energy Star appliances use 10-50% less energy than appliances that are not Energy Star-rated.
  • Renting or getting used appliances conserves energy and raw materials used to make new appliances — it’s also a much cheaper option than buying new ones.
Average cost

Varies; secondhand is always cheaper

You can also get local, organic food at farmers markets during the summer and fall:

  • Fulton Street Farmers Market at Fulton and Exchange streets (check website for dates and times)

Available at:

Whole FoodsSeven Stars BakeryEastside Marketplace

    Environmental benefits:

    • Buying local supports the local economy and farmers. It also minimizes fuel needed for transporting food and the need to use pesticides to preserve food over long distances.
    • On average, produce travels 1,300 miles from the farm to your table — that’s a lot of gas used for items that could be bought closer to home.
    • Organic food does not use harmful pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and is, therefore, healthier for you and for the environment. The average nonorganic apple has 30 pesticides on it, even after washing.

    Available at:

    Whole FoodsSouthside Community Land Trust

    Environmental benefits:

    • Plants will bring some life and natural oxygen into your room.
    • Purchasing organic plants will ensure that they were not grown with the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
    Average cost

    $15-$100

    Available at:

    SaversBlackbirds Consignment ShopGetModa Designer ConsignmentLeviathan Exchange

    Environmental benefits:

    • Growing and manufacturing the materials needed to create clothes requires large amounts of natural resources (cotton, water, etc). In addition, clothing manufacturers often do not have high standards of work quality for their employees, exposing them to suboptimal working conditions and wages.
    • Purchasing secondhand clothing can help reduce the need for natural resources to produce these items.