However, you can still go green without all the grand gestures and large expenses. Fortunately there are quite a few simple ways to make a difference where you are.
How to Green Your Apartment
1. Go LED
One of the easiest ways to go green is to replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. These long-lasting bulbs consume far less energy that their incandescent counterparts. Furthermore, thanks to advances in technology, LED bulbs have become cheaper and more efficient.
In the long run, you’ll save money on electricity bills and replacement costs, and a nice bonus; helping the environment. According to some estimates by Energy Star, if more households switched from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent or LED bulbs, $600 million could be saved in annual energy costs.
Additionally, greener lights prevent the production of more than 9 billion pounds of greenhouse emissions. That’s a significant effect for such a little step.
2. A Low-Flow Toilet Without Commitment
Installing a new low-flow toilet may not be possible in a rented space, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to create one with the materials you already have. Simply fill any water bottle up and place it in the toilet tank. The space displaced by the water bottle will prevent the tank from filling all the way and reduce the water used each flush.
While this may seem like a small amount, the water saved over time can really add up. The larger the water bottle, the more water conserved, but you may have to experiment with water savings and functionality.
3. Lower Your Kitchen’s Carbon Footprint
Paying attention to what you keep in your pantry is another great way to go green where you are. Try shopping for locally grown foods in season. Farmers markets are a great place to start. Local butchers may also have access to locally raised meat or eggs.
Buying locally not only supports the economy in your community, but also eliminates the huge amounts of fuel needed to ship in oranges from Brazil and fish from Chile. If you can buy organic, that further helps the environment, eliminating pesticides that can leach into the soil and water supply.
To further green your apartment in the kitchen:
- Minimize food waste by planning meals and only buying what you really need.
- Buy organic foods which support sustainable agriculture and improved conditions for farmers
- Use sustainable/natural cleaning products such as baking soda and lemons
- Consider switching to reusable and washable dish towels
- Always use reusable grocery bags, ideally, biodegradable
4. Furnish Creatively
Furniture and other apartment essentials provide another opportunity to go green.
Instead of buying all new furniture, dishes, and pans try asking friends and family if they have anything they’re getting rid of. Look through the selections at local thrift stores or check out Craigslist and Freecycle online. Not only can you get the items you need for free or a greatly reduced price, you are also eliminating the cost of manufacturing new goods and possibly saving landfill space by taking items that may have simply been thrown out.
5. Turn Off and Unplug
Another simple way of keeping your apartment green is turning electronics off and unplugging them when they are not in use.
Turning off the lights and the television when you leave the room may be a no-brainer, but fewer people realize that electronics still draw a small amount of electricity when they are plugged in, even if they are not on. Unplugging the toaster and keeping your phone charger out of the wall when it’s not in use may not save huge amounts of electricity, but if everyone took these simple steps the benefits could really add up.
It can be easy to fall into dreaming about what you will do to help the environment when you have your own house. Solar panels, windmills in the backyard, and energy efficient appliances are all great, but don’t let apartment life frustrate your dreams of going green.
There are plenty of simple steps you can take right now to not only help the environment, but also ease the strain on your wallet.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.