Renters: Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

Apartment living offers the advantage that as a tenant, you aren’t required to take responsibility for matters like upkeep, waste disposal and even energy use in communal areas. But what if you do want to take responsibility for your own carbon footprint and you want your efforts to extend beyond driving a hybrid vehicle and buying sustainable goods?

Fortunately, you don’t need to own a home to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly. First of all, before you rent a unit, ask whether they use sustainable energy and offer recycling bins on the property. You can also inquire about what cleaning products and light bulbs they use in communal areas. In addition, see if there’s public transport close by so you don’t have to drive to work all the time.

Once you’ve rented a place, the following tips may help you get started with adapting your home life to a green lifestyle.

Energy Consumption

The great thing about practicing energy savings is that you’ll notice the difference in your energy bills almost immediately.

  • Turn off appliances you’re not using and remember to unplug them. According to San Francisco Bay Area news site SF Gate, unplugging electricity-powered devices and appliances, such as coffee makers, cell phone chargers, etc. when they’re not in use can result in energy savings of up to 40 percent for an average household.
  • Use your drapes to cover your windows when you’re not home. When it’s cold out, this will save energy on heating costs, and when it’s hot, your AC won’t have to work as hard, according to SF Gate.
  • Adjust your thermostat. If you lower the temperature by two degrees in the winter and increase it by the same amount in the summer, you’ll reduce carbon emissions as well as your energy bill. At the same time, adapting the temperature can be a great opportunity to wear your new sweater or show off your tan!
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. They can consume two-thirds less energy and last 10 times longer.
  • Reduce your (hot) water usage. Don’t use your dishwasher or washing machine until you’ve accumulated a full load, even if they’re energy efficient. Use the cold water setting whenever possible; for example, on items like jeans, delicates and some cotton blends. But make sure to consult the washing instructions to prevent shrinkage or damage to your clothes.

Waste and Recycling

It goes without saying that household waste is responsible for huge portions of our landfills. Here are some suggestions to help minimize yours:

  • Use less packaging and paper. Bring a cloth shopping bag when you go to the store. If you have to use plastic bags, bring them back to the store for recycling when you’re finished with them. When you buy takeout, suggests you may bring plastic containers and ask the restaurant to use those instead of disposable ones.
  • Opt out of junk mail. Help save trees by opting out of the Direct Marketing Association’s member mailing here.
  • Recycle packing materials. You just moved in, so what should you do with all of those boxes and packing peanuts? Bring them back to the store or recycle them. The Peanut Hotline is a good place to start: 1-800-828-2214. Also, consider being proactive and plan an eco-friendly move.
  • Use water filters and reusable water bottles. Reduce your use of plastic water bottles by installing a water filter on your kitchen faucet and using reusable water bottles.

Going green might take a bit of getting used to, but if you do it right, you’ll minimize your carbon footprint, plus save money and have a better relationship with the environment along the way!


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