How to keep the Earth in mind as you decorate your space



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A frame filled with pressed flowers sits on a window sill in Campus Walk Plantation South Apartments. Students can make things such as this to decorate their dorm or apartment in creative ways.  Claire Livingston Buy Photos

As a college student, it can be easy to overdo decorating a residence hall, apartment or house. As we move away from home and discover the beauty that accompanies having our own space, filling it with trinkets and things that feel like pieces of ourselves becomes one of the biggest tasks to handle after move-in. 

Sometimes, the Target dollar section just screams, “Come look,” and a decoration made of plastic and wrapped in plastic ends up in the cart. Then, it ends up on a wall or on a desk only to be thrown into a landfill at the end of the year. 

But there are ways to reduce the waste that accompanies decorating, and most of the ways come from taking inspiration from Mother Earth herself.

My favorite decorations to spread around my room and home are geodes. If you go hiking in Bloomington and look around near creeks, you can sometimes find these unbroken rocks lying on the ground. Cracking them open can take a while, but once you’ve done it, you'll find a beautiful array of light-catching crystals perfect for sprucing up any room. The small pieces can be put on windowsills or in plants, and the larger ones can be used as paperweights or other decoration on a desk or side table. After use, they can be put back outside or given to friends.

Some simple and eco-friendly decorations to put in your home, dorm or apartment are succulents or other plants. Succulents can be purchased from hardware stores such as Menards or Home Depot. They're great for busy college students because they retain water and don’t need to be tended to often. Regular plants need to be watered more often, but the experience of watching them grow is a rewarding one.

Creating decorations yourself is even more enjoyable than purchasing them from Target. Picking pretty flowers during a warmer season in Bloomington can last you years if you press the flowers in a book and leave them to dry out. After about four weeks, the flowers can be put into a picture frames — an easy secondhand purchase — and displayed around your home. If you begin to feel like the flowers are getting boring to look at, all you have to do is throw them outside and find new ones.

A succulent sits on a desk in Campus Walk Plantation South Apartments. Succulents are an easy and cheap plant students can take care of.  Claire Livingston Buy Photos

I come from a family that saves old art supplies, so I’ve hung up things I’ve created myself in the past to decorate my space. If you don’t see yourself as an artsy person, you can always write out a quote that resonates with you and hang it on your wall instead. You can also cut up old newspapers and find words, letters and photos you enjoy and paste them onto a page.

If you’d rather just go out and purchase things to decorate your home, secondhand stores and places such as Plato’s Closet can make finding them easy. Plus, it feels more like a one-of-a-kind experience if you don’t see nine of the same thing on the shelf at Target.

Creating a space that is environmentally friendly takes work, but it’s a rewarding experience. Nothing is better than someone asking where you got a decoration and being able to say, “I made it,” “I searched a bunch of secondhand stores for it” or “I found it while I was hiking.”

Items such as geodes and picture frames filled with pressed flowers sit on a window sill in Campus Walk Plantation South Apartments. Some students decorate their living spaces in environmentally friendly ways.  Claire Livingston Buy Photos

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