25 Tips to Make Your Apartment an Eco Friendly, Sustainable, Green Paradise!
Renting an apartment should not make you feel exempt from doing your part for the environment and saving yourself some money while you are at it. It may seem like most of the world is talking about “Going Green” but they are talking about their own homes and their cars. What about the apartment dwellers among us? Luckily, if you take a look at the basics of green living, you will find that there are many simple things that anyone can do no matter where you live or who owns it. You don’t need any special technology or newfangled gadget, just plain common sense and a little effort.
- Choose your apartment well. Consider sharing an apartment with someone like minded and work together on being as eco friendly as you can. Take into consideration the location of your apartment and make it as convenient to your job and places that you go on a regular basis, so that you can walk or ride a bike to. The environment will love you and so will your heart with all the exercise you will get. Try to choose a place where you feel comfortable talking to your landlord about possibly working together to make improvements like installing low flow toilets, for instance.
- There are many little things that you can do right off the bat to make your apartment as energy efficient as possible. Such as putting weather stripping on your doors and windows can have a significant impact on your energy bills. Apply plastic glazing to windows to increase heat retention. Installing sun shielding shades and blinds are another great way to control the light in your room without using electricity to do it and will also help maintain the temperature in your home so you can use your air and heat less.
- Better late than never, many of the electric suppliers out there are finally beginning to offer green power options. By doing some research on the internet, you can quickly find out if there are any reasonable options in your area and considering switching to one of them.
- Get rid of old incandescent light bulbs. Replace them with compact fluorescents and you will save a sizable amount of energy and money over time. Not to mention they will help remove greenhouse gases from the air.
- Turn off the lights. Turn off the television. Shut the refrigerator door. Many of us tend to get into the habit of turning the lights or television on the moment we step into a room. Not that we necessarily need the lights or plan on watching television, but just because it has become an engrained habit to do it. Throw on all the lights and turn on the TV so we have some noise. Try to go without the noise for awhile and you might be amazed at how calming it is for your mind. You may think that you will go crazy without the noise but after a bit you will sense your mind and thoughts slowing down without all the marketing and advertising whoopla being pushed into your thoughts.
- Saving water is becoming even more crucial these days. Saving water usually results in saving energy also, so it is one of the best ways to go green in your apartment. It would be nice if you could install the latest in low-flush toilets but it may not be such a big deal to your landlord. Instead, fill a milk jug with stones and place it in your toilet tank to displace water and use less to fill the tank. There are other smaller things that you can do by yourself if you have the landlord’s permission like installing water-efficient faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads on your taps. Most importantly is watching your own behaviour. Spend less time in the shower, turn the water off while you are actually brushing your teeth, don’t use hot water for your laundry. Cold water works just as well and only run your washing machine and dishwasher with a full load.
- Grow your own food. Ok, I know what you are thinking, how can I grow my own food in an apartment? With a couple of window boxes or better yet, a small porch or balcony area you will be amazed at how much food can be grown in various containers. If nothing else, you can at least grow your own herbs to use in your food and as natural first aid remedies.
- Look for reduced packaging. Lots of companies are realizing the need to protect the environment and are using less packaging materials on their products. The less packaging used means less garbage filling up our landfills.
- Try not to use plastic bags. Plastic bags are used so carelessly in society and they continue to be one of the worst things for the environment. People have hoards of these things collected in their garages and storage bins that will never get used and will eventually end up dumped somewhere. At the very least, reuse them as much as possible. They are great to use as garbage bags for small garbage cans or to take your lunch to work with you.
- If you still like to read the old fashioned newspaper instead of following the news on television, radio or internet, reuse them. When you are done with it, use it as extra padding in gifts or things you are mailing. And don’t forget newspapers provide a streak-free shine on all your windows and mirrors including your cars. A little bit of watered down vinegar in a spray bottle and your old newspapers can beat the pants off of Windex any day.
- Old t-shirts and pyjamas make excellent bedding for dogs and cats. Instead of spending money at the pet store, use your old clothes until they get too dirty and then throw them away. Recycle your used cat litter when you clean out the litter box by putting it in the bottom of plant containers to aid in drainage and get the added benefit of natural fertiliser.
- Light your home with alternatives that don’t require electricity like candles. No need for expensive candles or fancy holders. Some of the most interesting pieces are made out of dollar store candles and empty bottles. Use old collectible bottles like old Coke bottles or wine bottles to make memories that light up your room with a cozy glow.
- Shop at thrift stores and consignment shops before buying new products and clothes. Many times you can find everything you need and do the environment a favour at the same time by reusing the items instead of just throwing them in the trash.
- Switch to non-toxic cleaners and detergents. While the grocery stores have also finally jumped on the bandwagon and figured out they were losing out on a huge niche market that was not going away, the people that make those cleaning products have very little regulations to force them to disclose dangerous ingredients. So, while words like “organic,” “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” is everywhere companies do not have to list dangerous ingredients unless the effects appear immediately after improper use. Since World War II, about 75,000 chemicals have been put on the market, but less than 5 percent of them have been tested for health or environmental side effects. Use vinegar to clean windows and toilet bowl or baking soda on your counter tops. There are a million alternatives to harmful cleaning chemicals.
- Add some houseplants to your apartment. Just two plants per hundred square feet in your apartment spread out over the rooms will clean out toxins in the air better than any air freshener or disinfectant spray will.
- If your apartment or your plants have bugs, soak citrus rind in water for a few days. Pour the water into a pump bottle and spray on plants, indoors and out. Or, you can make a mixture of 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil. Mix about 3 tablespoons of this concentrate with a quart of water in a pump bottle and spray on plants. Include peppermint with your herb garden and it will help repel ants and mice.
- Stop using your central heat and air 24/7. Open the doors and windows and let nature in. Breathe some fresh air. Let some sunshine in and get a little bit closer to nature while saving your self some money and saving the Earth’s precious resources. By lowering your thermostat one degree in the winter and raising it one degree in the winter, you can reduce your energy costs by almost five percent.
- Make sure that you check and replace your air conditioning filter as often as it needs to be. This also applies to any other appliance that you use in your home that has a filter. Any appliance that has a filter will run cleaner and use less energy if the filter is replaced on a regular basis.
- Quit smoking. Ok, maybe this is a given but so many people still have this life threatening habit and it ends up affecting other people. Second-hand smoke is a major indoor air pollutant and health hazard. If you have to smoke and continue to harm your own health, at least do it outside so you don’t force your visitors to be exposed to this pollution you choose to be around.
- Look for different kinds of furniture with minimal processing. Most furniture contains resins and varnishes that are just more chemicals that you are bringing into your home. If you spend a little extra time and money to find organic bedding, towels, drapes and clothing not only are you eliminating the toxins that you are exposing yourself to everyday, you’re giving your immune system a break and giving your body a chance to detoxify and rejuvenate while you are sleeping and relaxing.
- Buying as much organic food and products that you can from your local suppliers will only increase the demand for more of these types of businesses and products which will result in even more savings when the supply increases to meet the demand.
- The idea of kitchen composting, especially in an apartment, may just sound a little too disgusting to make it worth it. But with new products out there on the market it is actually quite easy to do and not even a little bit gross. A stainless steel kitchen composter makes saving table scraps easy and completely odorless. They usually are made with a carbon filter in the lid that keeps any smells contained while closed. Use this compost on your houseplants and your herbs.
- Make sure that your appliances like your refrigerator is not only an energy efficient model, but that you maintain it the best you can. This may mean having a repairman out once a year or so to make sure it is cooling properly but it is worth the expensive once a year by saving all year on your energy bills not to mention saving yourself from the dreaded blow out when you have a break down and lose a freezer full of food.
- Recycle your paper. If you print a lot of materials you may end up throwing away a great deal of paper that has only been used on one side. Save them up, flip them over and cut them in half or in fourths and you have lots of scrap paper to use for notes or grocery lists.
- Avoid volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are a wide range of carbon-based molecules used in a wide range of products. Under normal conditions, they vaporize and enter the air where they combine with other airborne compounds to form ozone. They can be introduced via paint, carpets, furnishings, and cleaning agents. Water-based glues, adhesives, finishes, and soy-based foams used in furniture will help keep VOC levels to a minimum in furnishings and decor.
The time to act is now, not later. If we keep shirking our responsibilities, there will be nothing left to meet the needs of future generations. We must begin to live a sustainable lifestyle and not continue to jeopardise the abilities of our future generations. By each of us taking responsibility for our own actions, a huge impact could be made very quickly on the fate of our planet and our children and grandchildren.
Also if you are a Pyrmont Local, why don’t you check the very cool Pyrmont Farmers Markets.