Interior designers are trained to consider the environmental impacts of their designs - not just for the initial installation, but into the future as well. Sustainability is a topic that’s very important to us, so we wanted to write this blog post to explain how renters can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
The Four Rs
You’ve probably seen these a million times, but to use you can’t talk sustainability without them!
Reduce - The best way to deal with waste is to prevent it from happening in the first place by reducing the materials we consume.
Reuse - When possible, find ways to use items again instead of throwing them out (this could be a totally different use from the original one!).
Recycle - Recycling does help conserve resources and reduce waste. However, it comes with economic and environmental costs, so it’s best only for waste that can’t be reduced or reused.
Recover - When the other options aren’t possible, we can sometimes turn waste into new materials or energy to recover some of its total impact.
Eco-Friendly Apartment Living
Is it better for the environment to rent or own? It’s a complicated question with lots of debate on both sides. But what is indisputably true is that there are TONS of ways to go green and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle as a renter! Here are just a few of our favorite tips to do just that:
Grow a green thumb
You don’t need a yard to have a garden! You can grow many herbs and vegetables in pots indoors, in a window box, or on a balcony. You may not get enough yield to live off of, so put away the canning supplies - but you can still save money and resources with some homegrown produce. One important thing about going green is that it’s not all or nothing! Every little bit counts.
Use your machines wisely
You may not be able to choose energy-efficient appliances for your apartment, but you do have control over how you use them. The dishwasher is generally less resource-intensive than hand washing… but not if it’s nearly empty! When washing and drying clothes, opt for cooler temperatures for the same clean with less energy.
Clean the green way
If you own your home, you may feel a responsibility to clean it with sustainable products. But of course, renting doesn’t need to feel any different! There are lots of resources online for making your own cleaning supplies using natural ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. It’s friendly to the earth and your wallet, so don’t let renting stop you!
Re-use what you can
Just because your storage space may be limited in a rental, that doesn’t mean you can't save things to be reused. Your best bet is often to reuse things immediately - like covering the containers that your food came in with a reusable food wrap to reduce the need for plastic storage containers.
Also... have you ever wondered how to store food without plastic? This infographic has a plethora of options.
Be smart with heating and cooling
Weatherizing your apartment can save you money on utilities whether you rent or own. Simple things like adding curtains to windows and using fans to distribute air can make a surprisingly big difference. Try turning your thermostat down at night in chilly weather and opening the windows at night in the summer.
Fix leaks promptly to avoid water waste
If you have leaky pipes or a running toilet, get them fixed ASAP. When you rent, it is your landlord’s responsibility to keep these things in good order, so don’t put off that maintenance request! Also, you can install a low-flow shower head with minimal effort and no special skills. Just keep the old one to reinstall when you move out.
Know what’s recyclable
If your building has a communal recycling area, it’s especially easy to toss trash in there indiscriminately. Did you know that plastic bags are NOT recyclable in standard bins, and in fact can break the equipment at your local recycling center??? In general, the amount of our “recycling” that’s not actually recyclable is… kind of upsetting. Take a few minutes to read what your municipality does/doesn’t accept. It’s quick and easy, and does everyone a favor. The City of Portland website does a great job of explaining this, but basically every city has one of these as well.
Want more content about the renting life?
Our business is making life better for renters, and as a part of that we’re always creating new blog posts and guides like this one. For the very latest news and information, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter!