The Ultimate Sustainable College Packing List

Whether you are a freshman or a senior, packing for college is always an exciting, but stressful task. But there is no longer a need to stress because here is No Kill’s ultimate (responsible and ethical) college packing list!

A lot of the items needed for a college student are pretty self-explanatory and relatively easy to find but locating options that don’t hurt the planet can be more difficult. Here are some of our favorite places for bedding, bathroom, decoration and everyday use products on everyone’s college check list.



Made Trade

Made Trade is an amazing online retailer that offers a large range of different products. The women-owned, family-run company has coined the term ‘ethically elevated’ meaning they hold artistry above efficiency, fair wages above profits, sustainability above mass production, quality craftsmanship above mindless consumption, and transparency above everything.

In terms of college shopping, it a great place to start. They have a large variety of bedding, from fitted sheets to throw pillows and blankets, all in beautiful colors and patterns.

Made Trade also has super stylish options for room décor. I know the prospect of decorating my college dorm is always exciting so check out Mode Trade’s décor. Make your room feel like you in the most sustainable way possible!



Fernish is an amazing place to find furniture and décor that you can RENT. It is ideal for college students because they even set it up for you!

Similar to fast-fashion, stores like Ikea and H&M Home have created a ‘fast-furniture’ industry, where furniture is made cheaply and quickly so it more affordable for the consumer.  While we are fans of Ikea who actually manage to produce pretty ethically and be affordable we are not fans with how often we see unwanted Ikea pieces left for trash on our streets in Brooklyn.

Fernish is a monthly subscription service that lets you easily get the furniture (and decor!) you need, for the amount of time you need it.

You can rent a variety of furniture and décor, from bed frames to wall art. They work with a curated list of suppliers to offer high-quality and stylish furniture; their partners include brands like Crate&Barrel, CB2, and Floyd.

Renting contracts can range from 2 to 12 months, and if you like it enough to re-rent you can extend or even buy it!



Etsy is a great place to find certain eco-friendly items on your college list that would normally be made of plastic or other highly questionable materials. It also ensures that your products will be unique, and you won’t confuse them with your roommates! Plus, by buying off Etsy you are supporting a small business, instead of a large corporation.

For example, it is super hard to find sustainably-sourced and ethically-made shower caddies, but Etsy has tons of them.

Check out Etsy’s ‘zero waste bathroom section’ when you are looking for all of the basic necessities!

Etsy is not only great for all of your bathroom and shower needs; it has a range of items that you can find on any college checklist. TORRAIN Recycled Bags on Etsy offers a large range of upcycled and recycled backpacks with great patterns!



Thrifting is a great way to find products at a low price. Necessities like cups or plates are much cheaper and more unique when found in your local thrift shop.

Thrifting is also a great place to find necessary plastic items second-hand, instead of new. Power strips and fans are basically necessities for the average college student; finding these items used can heavily reduce your plastic consumption.



Pact is another fabulous online store offering a range of products from garments to sheets and bath towels all made with certified organic cotton at fair trade factories.

Pact bath towels are made with organic cotton, which means production uses 91% less water used than conventional cotton and no toxic chemicals to avoid pollution! The towels are produced at a GOTS Certified and Fair Trade Factory based in India, a factory that works to empower, not enslave, all of their 985 workers.

If you are already browsing the site, it definitely would not hurt to check out some of cool clothing options; it’s reasonably priced and super cute!


Ditto Hangers

Not top of the list, because most of us don’t think about this, are hangers. While the majority of plastic hangers are made with a range of different plastics which makes them extremely hard to recycle, you might want to consider Ditto hangers. Made from 100% recycled paper fiberboard, they are recyclable, compostable and completely non-toxic.



SortJoy provides alternatives to the generic, unsustainable storage options found at big box stores.

Although No Kill supports the ‘don’t buy so much stuff’ message being promoted by many colleges and universities, we understand that, based on the size of your average dorm room, storage containers are a necessity. SortJoy is the perfect place to look, offering products created for storage and organization. The company uses eco-friendly materials to create cute containers and bins that you won’t have to stuff in the back of your closet.

All of SortJoy’s products are created from felt made of 100% recycled plastic so they are also malleable and washable!

They have a great selection of colors and shapes that would look great in any room!

Whether packing for college is your favorite or most loathed task, it is important that you choose mindfully! Check out our article on 15 ways to ditch plastic every day and incorporate those tips and these brands into your college packing list. And how to keep your bedroom refreshed for ZERO dollars.

–Carolina McCormick