There I was, overwhelmed among the piles of stuff, wondering, what do I really need? For me, the answer was: things I can see myself using in the long-term. That ruled out the personal blender (I'll buy a real blender eventually) and the beanbag chairs (I hope my future home has real furniture not made of styrofoam "beans").
So, we started with the thrift stores. What could I get without the plastic smell of new stuff? As it turns out, a beautiful vintage bowl, quirky dishware, and a director's chair to name a few of my favorite purchases.
Every time I picked something up I asked myself if I could see that item in my future home. If I couldn't make room for something in my future it had no place in my present. I think of my dorm room as a boxy and ill equipped tiny house which I want to fill only with intentional things. The money that I saved by shopping thrift can go towards my weekend trips to the farmer's market (on my spiffy new bike) and nights spent swing and blues dancing with my new friends.
Of course, there were things I needed that we bought new. A high quality tea kettle, a mini-fridge (that will maybe have a place in my tiny house), a desk lamp, and a comforter were all purchased new. But, each of these items I see lasting a long time. I didn't buy an extra-long twin sheets (we luckily had those) because I only expect to live in the dorms for one year. I don't think that justifies buying a whole new set (or two) of sheets. I picked out a new bike that suits my commuter style better than the one I left in Washington. I plan on carting this one with me until it falls apart- and even then I might just have it welded back together.
A few weeks ago I peddaled myself back out to Bed Bath & Beyond to return a few things. The first was a powerstrip. Certainly a "dorm essential" but I don't see it as too much of a challenge to reach down and switch chargers when necessary. The second was a clamp bed light. What future bed will I need to clip a lamp to? And I even brought my trusty headlamp all the way to Colorado and I might as well use it.
College is when we gain the credentials to say things and have people really listen. I want to say that living simply is possible no matter the circumstances. Clip lamps and beanbags aside, let's focus on what we truly want to spend our time doing instead of what we want to spend our time buying. Live small to live large.