Going Green: Eco-Friendly Apartment Living Ideas

No matter the time of year, planet Earth can use a little help to maintain her beauty. After all, the environment provides humans with countless necessary resources. Work toward a cleaner, greener, and more environmentally responsible lifestyle.

This year, go beyond recycling and replacing light bulbs and take a look at a few ways to truly make an impact on the environment with green apartment living. Here are a few often overlooked ways you can change your habits to benefit the planet and those living in it:

Change Your Electricity Usage

Of the total energy consumed in the U.S., 30% is used to generate electricity, which represents an important fraction of your environmental footprint. Consider researching clean energy supply options and doing your part to reduce energy usage at home.

Get Green Power: Check if your local utility company offers green power options using the EPA Green Power locator. Clean energy includes highly efficient combined heat and power, as well as renewable energy sources. Changing your system will typically cost you a few more cents per kilowatt hour but that can be offset by energy efficient appliances.

Talk to your landlord to see if he or she is willing to upgrade your entire building, though you may be able to change your energy on an individual basis. If your whole apartment must make the switch, remind your landlord that green energy may come with an upfront cost, but the savings will make up for it in the long run.

Insulate and Upgrade: The energy used in the average house is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the average car. One of the biggest sources of this energy usage is heating and cooling. Take steps to insulate and air-seal your apartment as much as possible. You may have to pester your landlord to renovate your building.

Also, replace older equipment and appliances with Energy Star qualified options. Energy Star products have met strict standards for energy efficiency without sacrificing performance and will save you at least 30% on energy costs while using significantly less natural resources. Everything from your refrigerator (you’ll have to see your landlord about that one) to your toaster can be energy efficient.

Less is More When it Comes to Water

Make it your goal to consume less water this year. You can do that by taking shorter showers, of course, but we have a few more interesting ideas:

Change Your Showerhead: Energy Star appliances will help with water saving, but another one other great way to make a big impact is installed a WaterSense labeled showerhead, which can save more than 2,300 gallons of water per year for the average household and simultaneously reduce energy demands on water heaters.

If every household in the U.S. installed WaterSense labeled showerheads in their bathrooms, we could save more than 250 billion gallons of water per year, which could supply more than 2.5 million homes with water needs for a year.

Most landlords are alright with you changing something as small as a showerhead, though we still suggest asking before you go ahead with it.

Waste Not, Want Not

Managing household waste is an easy yet important way to reduce your environmental footprint and lessen your demands on natural resources.

Reduce Food Waste: The National Resources Defense Council estimates that 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, and the energy and water used to produce it is lost forever. Shop for only grocery items that you know you will use to reduce food waste, and opt for locally grown fresh foods.

And, consider this: LiveEarth, founded in partnership with Al Gore, says that the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your climate change impact is to not eat meat due to the vast resources required to raise animals for food.

In fact, according to Environmental Defense, if every American replaced one meal of chicken per week with a vegetarian option, the carbon dioxide savings would be equal to taking more than half a million cars off the road. Skip meat a few times a week to make a major impact!

Don’t Stop Recycling: Since 1990, we have increased the amount of waste recycled from 15% to 34%. In 2010, we recycled 85 million tons of waste, the energy savings equivalent of nearly 230 million barrels of oil.

If your apartment building doesn’t offer a recycling program, ask your landlord about implementing one. You may pay a bit more each month in rent to cover the cost of curbside recycling, but the small increase is worth the energy savings. Should your landlord turn you down, look for recycling centers near your apartment and drop your items off yourself.

What are you doing in your apartment to help the planet?

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