There’s plenty of advice online when it comes to making the home you own more eco-friendly, but what can you do when you’re a renter? While some landlords give their tenants the all-clear to modify their apartments, in most scenarios you won’t be able to change your rental significantly.
The good news is there are many techniques and products you can use to lead a more environmentally friendly life, even if you live in a rental. Here are 18 practical ways to be greener if you live in an apartment, structured in the three areas that matter most:
Curb your energy and heating/AC usage
From a habit-forming point of view, you should first remember to switch off whatever appliances and gadgets you’re not using. To make this easier, you can plug the ones you’d normally switch off, say, when you’re going to work, into the same outlet.
At the same time, and this one is a must for green apartment living, dress accordingly if it’s cold outside. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run your heat, but instead of consuming enough to keep your apartment hot enough for beachwear, you could make it comfortable while saving on your bills and helping the planet as well. Speaking of clothing, if it’s warm out and you have the space to install a dryer or clothesline, you can air-dry your clothes instead of running the dryer.
On the product side, the first thing you should do is switch to eco-friendly appliances, energy-efficient gadgets, and eco-friendly fixtures (if possible, of course). If purchasing a new appliance is up to you, look for the Energy Star symbol, which is backed by the U.S. Government. Also, switch out your incandescent lightbulbs for LEDs or CFLs – they might seem pricey, but they pay themselves off in a couple of months, after which you’ll actually start saving money.
When it comes to heating, you can get a programmable thermostat to make sure you only use it when it’s needed. Installing reflective foil behind your radiators will also ensure you waste less heat. And whether you’re trying to keep your house warm or cool, weather-stripping your apartment will keep the heat in, the cold out and vice-versa.
Save more water
Water is our most valuable resource, so it’s no wonder we insist on wasting as little of it as possible.
You’re probably already familiar with most of the water-saving methods out there, like flushing less, taking shorter showers, using your washing machine and dishwashers only when you’ve got a full load on your hands, stopping the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, and so on.
But besides being more mindful of how much water you consume, there are a few changes you could make for a greener apartment. Low-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, and faucet aerators will all curb how much water you use, saving you money on utilities at the same time. You can ask your landlord to install these items, but if they’re not up for it, you could also ask for permission to do it yourself – they’re not that difficult to handle.
Last but not least, if you have to replace your washing machine or dishwasher, consider lobbying your landlord to get more energy-efficient ones. They’ll be less harmful to the environment and save everyone money in the long run.
Whenever you work on the interior design of your home, try to purchase items that were previously used. Whether you plan an antiquing or flea market day or spend some time browsing Craigslist for a new couch or shelf, buying used items won’t just mean you’re reusing resources – your place will have a more unique feel as well. If you need new things, look for quality and durability, and make sure your new furnishings will last for years to come.
The same goes for bedding and other textile items. Go for organic cotton if you can afford it, and again try to make sure you buy quality fabrics that won’t need replacing every couple of months.
When it comes to upkeep, consider swapping chemical-heavy cleaning products for ones based on natural ingredients, or even making your own. This may come as a surprise, but there’s a homemade solution for almost everything that needs cleaning in your apartment.
In the end, no one will judge you if you slip from time to time. Going green is a decision you make for yourself. However, in the end, it’s up to each of us to take responsibility for the environment.
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