If you're concerned your new apartment isn't the most eco-friendly living space on the block, don't just write it off as a temporary problem. There are a number of ways you can actively work to make your apartment green, even if the building itself follows some wasteful practices. If you're passionate about the environment, don't be deterred by the habits of others. Instead, implement a few easy changes that will make your apartment greener and reduce your environmental footprint. You never know, maybe others will even follow your example. Here are five ideas for green apartment living:
1. Commit to recycling
If your apartment complex lacks a recycling program, you can still commit to sustainability by bringing your bottles, cans, cardboard, paper and other reusable goods to a local recycling center. If you live in a big city, there may even be recycling facilities within easy walking distance. Also, if you have to recycle larger items such as electronics, make sure not to just toss them in the trash, as they may have toxic chemicals that are bad for the environment. Instead, find a local outlet that will accept these materials.
2. Keep your washer on the cold setting
Washing your clothes with cold water can save the majority of the energy being used by your washer. Heating up water takes up a lot of unnecessary energy and likely won't make that big a difference on the cleanliness of your clothes. If your apartment washer and dryer seem to be outdated, ask the landlord if it's possible to install newer, more energy efficient models. Consider allowing clothes to air dry if they're still damp after going through the dryer cycle.
3. Go paperless
If you still receive bank statements, bills and other documents through the mail, consider going online and transferring over to paperless delivery. Not only will this allow you to reduce the amount of waste you produce, but it will also make the process of paying bills more efficient. If you receive junk mail often from the same businesses, consider calling or emailing them and requesting to be taken off of their mailing list.
4. Grocery shop with reusable bags
Loading up on paper or plastic bags every time you go grocery shopping wastes a lot of resources. Most grocery stores sell reusable bags at a very reasonable price. Furthermore, these bags are stronger and less likely to tear or rip under the weight of heavy food items. Also consider that many locales reward the use of reusable bags, so it may actually save you money in the long run. To go even greener, find a local grocery outlet within walking distance, and shop at farmers markets whenever possible to buy food that is locally sourced. If you are a regular at a neighborhood coffeehouse, invest in a reusable travel mug that you can bring with you on the go.
5. Unplug your electronics
Even if your electronics are turned off, many of them will still zap electricity if they're plugged in. This will drive up the price of your electric bill and waste a lot of energy for no reason. Consider investing in a power strip and then flipping it off whenever your electronic devices aren't in use. Also, make sure to unplug your cellphone and laptop chargers whenever you are not charging these devices. Remember to turn off lights whenever leaving a room.
Going green doesn't have to be a challenge. Implementing these basic ideas and making a habit of saving energy will make your apartment a greener living space faster than you realize.