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? Luckily, 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 a few practical ways to be greener if you live in an apartment.
1. Lower 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).
2. Shop mindfully
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.
3. Try natural cleaning products
Using harmful chemicals to clean is harder on our environment than one may think. Not to mention harmful to your personal health. When you wash away dirt, you are also sending these harmful products into the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again.
When it comes to upkeep, consider swapping chemical-heavy cleaning products for ones based on natural ingredients, or even making your own. For most day-to-day cleaning tasks, natural products like vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits and baking soda can be used in place of caustic chemicals to great effect. This may come as a surprise, but there’s a homemade solution for almost everything that needs cleaning in your apartment.
4. Cook smart
It’s easy to be smarter in the kitchen, which can lead to a far more eco-friendly home. One important example is that you can lose a huge amount of heat if you open an oven door during cooking. Even if the oven is only open for a short time it will then need to use a significant amount of energy heating back up.
Another big problem is the coffee pods waste. They could be contributing to a global environmental disaster, with billions of the sleek aluminum and plastic capsules ending up in landfills each year. Drink your coffee from a conventional drip coffee maker.
5. Promote clean air in your apartment
The air inside your rental can be 2 to 5 times more polluted and toxic than the air you breathe outdoors. We go for regular health check-ups, pop prescription medication daily, stress over allergies, but neglect the quality of the air we breathe 24/7.
For starters, make it a point to ventilate your kitchen during meal prep, as cooking can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Keep the fan on when you take showers, or try to vent out the bathroom after your shower (if you don’t have vents in your bathroom). Steam and extra moisture in the air can cause mold and mildew to build up.
Houseplants are perfect for small spaces, both aesthetically and when looking to rejuvenate the air in your space. The best plants to filter toxins from the air are the Peace Lilly and the Lady Palms (or the Broadleaf Lady Palm). The Areca Palm is great for darker rooms or rooms that have just been painted.
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you are doomed to an unsustainable lifestyle. Do some online searching, and be conscious of your day-to-day life within your rental. Making some minor, consistent changes will have you living a greener life in no time.
Originally published in RENTCafé.