It can seem almost impossible to go green when you live in an apartment. New energy efficient appliances, better insulation, and solar panels aren’t really an option when you don’t own the property. Going green doesn’t have to be all grand gestures and large expenses, though. Fortunately there are quite a few simple ways to make a difference where you are.
1. Go Fluorescent
One of the easiest way to go green is to replace all of your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. These long lasting bulbs reduce waste and use considerably less energy than their incandescent counterparts. While the initial investment is higher than conventional light bulbs, you will save money in the long run both in electricity bills and replacement costs, a nice bonus to helping the environment. While it seems like a small step, Energy Star estimates that “if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with fluorescent we would save $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent the production of 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.” That’s a lot of 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.
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.
Banner photo by Christopher Sessums