How Apartment Living Can Be More Sustainable
If you live in an apartment, your landlord probably isn’t going to let you put solar panels on the roof. However, there are many things you can do to live a sustainable lifestyle even if you don’t have the same freedom as a homeowner.
No matter where you are, you can build habits for being intentional with the resources around you. Here are seven ways you can make apartment living more sustainable.
1. Purchase Thoughtfully
One of the easiest ways to live more sustainably is to think twice before buying anything. Avoid impulse shopping and try to plan ahead so you don’t have to make last-minute purchases. You can also choose items with less packaging.
Changing your shopping habits will take time, so be patient with yourself and keep moving forward. Try to improve one area at a time and shop secondhand whenever you can.
2. Recycle Materials
Although many apartment buildings don’t offer recycling services, there are probably drop-off points for glass, plastic, and paper in your local area. Keep a collection bin in your house, and make the trip to recycle once a week.
It’s important to understand collection policies to ensure you’re recycling the right materials for your area. Some recycling companies will throw out materials if they’re dirty or mixed in with other items they can’t recycle.
3. Compost Food
When food goes to the dump, it’s put into storage with everything else. This means the nutrients and natural resources in food scraps are lost and instead contribute to methane levels in the atmosphere.
A good solution is to waste less food and compost any food scraps. Many cities have composting services, and some renters actually compost inside with special bins. Once the food has broken down, you can donate it to a friend’s garden or a local farmer’s market.
4. Reduce Energy
There are many ways you can save energy while living in an apartment. Turning off lights and unplugging electronic devices can reduce your energy bill while benefiting the planet. After light bulbs stop working, you can replace them with LEDs to save energy with your lighting.
To reduce hot water use, try taking shorter showers and turning the faucet off while washing your dishes. Washers and dryers also use large amounts of water and energy, so try to use them only once a week. Ask your landlord if they would be willing to buy new, energy-efficient models when they need to be replaced.
5. Avoid Plastic
You can also try to avoid buying plastic while living in an apartment. Plastic is a synthetic material that doesn’t biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics that enter the water system and affect animal life.
A lot of clothes, containers, kitchen utensils, and furniture are made with plastic. Although you may not have full control of your living space in an apartment, you can practice avoiding plastic and choose to buy and live with more natural materials instead.
6. Walk Often
If your apartment is located far away from the other place you need to go, you may have to drive often. One way to make apartment living more sustainable is to choose an apartment within walking distance of your workplace and important locations like grocery stores.
This isn’t always possible, so you can also batch driving trips to reduce your car emissions. For example, if you have to leave the house for work, swing by the grocery store on your way home instead of going out again later. Whenever you can, try to walk to your destination.
7. Grow Plants
Even in a very small apartment, there is room to grow plants. In addition to greening up your apartment and connecting you with nature, many houseplants also work to improve the air quality inside your home.
Some plants that are especially good at reducing toxins in the air include snake plants, spider plants, pothos, and peace lilies. To further protect the air quality of your apartment, avoid burning candles made of paraffin wax or using aerosol cans inside.
Live Sustainably Now
You don’t have to wait until you own a home to start living more sustainably. Use these seven tips to start building sustainable habits right where you are. Each small step you take will add up and help protect the environment.
Author Bio: Jane works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers environmental news and sustainable living tips.