5 Tips for Non-Toxic, Cleaner College Living: Advice From Our Interns

By Branch Basics |

5 Tips for Non-Toxic, Cleaner College Living: Advice From Our Interns

From our interns:

It wasn’t until interning at Branch Basics that we both realized the large amount of toxins and chemicals surrounding us in our everyday lives. College living doesn’t often equate to a clean and healthy lifestyle!

We live in old dorm rooms full of years of dust and mold, typically cleaned with harsh cleaning chemicals. We stay out way too late and never give our bodies a chance to rest. We eat food on meal plans and gain the freshmen fifteen. It goes on and on... 

To sum it all up, many college students find it challenging to take good care of their bodies and maintain busy schedules during the school year. We're guilty of this, but after learning some of the following tips while working at Branch Basics, we're committed to doing better next year!

To note, oftentimes the products used in our environments are out of our control. We can’t control the habits of our roommates or the products used to clean the buildings we live in (particularly dorms).

But in spite of that, we do have the ability to control a few things for ourselves. Small changes are both cost efficient and easy for any college student to do. Here are six easy changes that college students can make to create a cleaner college living environment and a healthier college experience - straight from two college students! 

5 Tips for Healthier, Greener, Cleaner College Living

  1. Eliminate candles and scented products
  2. Replace personal care products
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Switch from plastics to glass
  5. Buy a pink himalayan salt lamp
  6. Use a non-toxic cleaner

Tip #1: Eliminate Candles & Scented Products 

Especially in musky dorms, we like plug-ins and vanilla candles just as much as the next person. However, after working here this summer, we realized just how harmful fragrance can be! And how many artificial scents were surrounding us in our environment. 

This is a topic that BB is super passionate about, and now we are too. If you want to dig in more, here are a few of the articles we've written about fragrance:

How To Remove Synthetic Fragrance From Your Home

Once you notice these synthetic fragrances, you truly can't unnotice them. It's like switch flips in your brain, and all the sudden they smell so... chemically?! Now, we can smell car and wall plug-ins wherever we go. So, we #TossedTheToxins and ditched artificial scents in our dorm rooms, cars, and more. And we can breath easier and get less headaches because of it!

However, where it really hurt was… the dryer sheetsUnfortunately, of the many toxic cleaning products, the chemicals in dryer sheets and fabric softeners are actually considered to be among the most toxic 

We love dryer sheets, most obviously because they make our clothes smell so good. Thankfully, this summer we learned about Wool Dryer Balls and they have revolutionized our laundry! They last a long time, are super economical and ultimately are just healthier. 

Tip #2: Replace Personal Care Products 

A quick way to a cleaner college living is replacing and simplifying your personal care products. You’ll see endless health benefits by ridding your body of harmful chemicals seen in the majority of products we use on our skin, hair, body, teeth, etc. on a daily basis.

Branch Basics has done a lot of deep-diving into personal care products, so we have a few other blog posts you can check out:

Simple DIY Personal Care Product Recipes

Our Favorite Fragrance-Free Personal Care Products

Our Favorite Non-Toxic Personal Care Products

How To Navigate Personal Care Products: Ingredients to Use & Avoid

If you’re interested in DIY projects, you can try making your own homemade shampoo like this one from Wellness Mama, and this recipe for dry shampoo is simple to use between washes and seems to do the trick! 

At the BB offices, we also talk a lot about natural deodorants. There are a lot out there, so just make sure you vet them by EWG Skin Deep or Think Dirty, as some are simply greenwashing while others are truly non-toxic. 

As far as dental care goes, we have learned a new favorite nontoxic teeth whitening trick: activated charcoal. We were skeptical at first, but instantly saw results! Using activated charcoal helped me ditch the conventional teeth whitening products. Just make sure you buy yourself a separate toothbrush and don’t be scared when you see your reflection in the mirror! 

Tip #3: Stay Hydrated

Let's be honest - college is busy. Between class, extracurriculars, homework, studying, keeping up with your social life, going home for holidays... it's a lot.

And sometimes we're up late and craving something like (dare we say it) soda and Red Bull. Depending on our schedules, we sometimes would even end up drinking them during the day to stay awake. It doesn't seem so crazy when everyone else around you is doing it... but when we started interning at BB, we realized not everyone does this. And we actually don't need that sugar rush! 

You don't realize the power these products have over you, and how harmful they are, until you remove them. We were pretty shocked to discover the harmful ingredients in those drinks, and they were the first "food" product Marilee and the team told us to to toss.

We've really come to realize the little energy they gave us did not justify the toxins we were putting into our bodies. Each day, we remind ourselves of this and are learning to reach for a glass of water or freshly squeezed juice when needing a little energy to get through the day. We're also really into dandelion tea is another way to make sure I’m staying hydrated.

Overall, using food as medicine is a big topic at BB, and we're just diving into it. However, staying hydrated is a good first step to getting on track! 

Tip #4: Switch From Plastic To Glass 

Anywhere you look on a college campus, you'll find plastic water bottles. Thousands of water bottles are sold at sporting events and it seems that most students carry them around in their backpacks. We like them for their ease and convenience.

Little did we realize that the majority of plastic bottles contain chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and other harmful chemicals that are used to make the plastic. BPA can be very harmful to our health, and people are just starting to realize how prominent it is in our products.

And... of course, everyone knows plastic water bottles are just straight-up bad for the environment!

We try to carry our glass water bottles, free of phthalates, BPA, and other toxins everywhere we go. Our favorites are Bkr (pronounced "beaker") and Life Factory. Both have great sleeves that help protect the glass from breaking. You can also opt for a stainless steel water bottle.

Tip #5: Buy A Pink Himalayan Salt Lamp

You might be asking... what’s a salt lamp? Before we interned at BB, we could not have told. However, after finding out about the numerous benefits we are obsessed!

Adding a Himalayan pink salt lamp to your room will improve indoor air quality and can greatly help reduce symptoms of allergies. Which is a must in most old dorms. (Hello allergies!)

The heat warms and releases negative ions from the lamp that bind to pollen, dust and other allergens floating in the air. A salt lamp could make a huge improvement in a college dorm room for very little cost. We cannot wait to use this lamp in our rooms this fall.

Tip #6: Use A Non-Toxic Cleaner

Yes, this is where Branch Basics comes in! It is really a game-changer when all you need is ONE Concentrate for all the cleaning. We absolutely love cleaning with Branch Basics, and have converted some of our friends as well.

A dorm is a small space... we don't have much room to store products so it's great for keeping it minimal.

And also, in such a small space it's even more important to keep your air clean with non-toxic solution! 

It's The Small Changes

So, that's it for now! These are all the swaps and lifestyle changes we've learned in just a month at BB, and there are sure to be more.

Like we said, it can be hard to make certain lifestyle changes when not everyone around you is aligned AND you don't have total control over your environment... and college is one of the hardest places to do that. 

However, these changes are small and effective and we really believe they will make a difference. For any other college students reading this, let us know what small swaps and changes you've made to try to live a more non-toxic lifestyle while away at college. We'd love to know!