My boyfriend and I moved out together recently so I’ve been navigating the world of eco-friendly apartment living. As exciting as it is, it definitely shook up my routine and I’ve been struggling to find ways to be as green as normal. So, I figured that other’s must be feeling lost too when it comes to figuring out how to be sustainable when renting an apartment.
It’s definitely not impossible to go green in an apartment but it’s an adjustment.
These eco-friendly apartment living tips are easy and somewhat accessible. The bulk of pollution and climate change is not because of the Average Joe, but I still believe in trying to do something. That said, I don’t think being green needs to be an all or nothing thing. Do what you can, it all adds up!
Here are my tips on eco-friendly apartment living.
Green Apartment Tips
1. Get Renewable Electricity
One of the more exciting and terrifying things about moving out is getting to make bigger decisions for yourself. One of the first things we did to start off our eco-friendly apartment life was switch to a renewable electricity provider. While I don’t just leave the lights on all the time if I’m not using them, I definitely don’t find myself feeling a little guilty for boiling the kettle.
2. Mindful Transport
I don’t drive. Personally, I don’t really have any intention to (especially given that I don’t need to drive).
We live in the city center which means we’re within walking distance from several grocery stores. If I want to walk home I can, but there are also lots of buses running. I also discovered that my taxi app has an option for electric cars – which cost the same as regular – so when I do need a taxi, I always select that option.
At this point, it should go without saying but we also have a recycling bin.
A horrifying amount of what goes into the recycling bin doesn’t get recycled. This is largely because of people contaminating the bin (for example, putting in food waste) or wish-cycling – which means putting something in the bin that isn’t actually recyclable and hoping for the best. If it doesn’t have a recycling label on it, it’s not recyclable.
4. Go To A Bottle Bank
Glass shouldn’t go into a standard recycling bin. Some recycling programs do allow glass in their bins, so you’ll have to check with your own provider. Generally, it doesn’t go in a household recycling bin so we have been cleaning and saving ours to take to a local bottle bin.
5. Opt For Low-Waste Food
Going completely zero-waste is not accessible to everyone, myself included, but generating somewhat less waste is achievable. However, if you’re wondering how you can be green in an apartment, there are still ways to generate less waste food shopping.
When it comes to being low-waste for food, I’ve been buying loose fruit and vegetables – rather than the ones coated in plastic. There is a health food shop near us that sell zero-waste grains, oats, and nuts so once we’re settled (and use up the food we brought from home) I’ll be trying to switch over there.
I try to avoid plastic packaging and go for food in tins or glass containers instead, which are easier to recycle or to reuse. Somethings can also be frozen and used later. So much avocado and beansprouts have built up in the freezer, but rest assured, they’ll be eaten.
6. Low-Waste Shower
I have accumulated a lot of shampoo and bath sets over the past few Christmases and birthdays so I’m using those up first. Once I’ve gotten through the bath and shower products I already own, I’ll be buying shampoo and soap bars again. I’ll also be getting a biodegradable loofa!
Please don’t buy me shampoo and bath sets for Christmas.
7. Low-Waste Dental Care
I’ve been using bamboo toothbrushes for a long time now. I’ve always switched to eco-friendly toothpaste.
Personally, I like toothpaste tabs and mouth wash tabs but they’re not for everyone. I’ll admit that the sensation is weird. At the moment I’ve been using Truthpaste (not sponsored) which comes in a recyclable glass jar and is more akin to normal toothpaste.
8. Green Cleaning Products
Aside from the environment, cleaning products freak me out because I’d rather not inhale chemicals – but of course, being clean is very much a necessity. Lots of people make surface cleaners from scratch but there are some more natural ones appearing on the market.
I’ve been buying sustainable cleaning products like household gloves made from natural rubber, biodegradable sponge cloths, and biodegradable scourer’s to scrub pots.
Lots of health stores offer options for refillable washing detergents and other products. I would also get a Guppy Bag for the washing machine to catch any micro-plastics from clothes that would have ended up in the water.
9. Second-Hand Shopping
Our apartment was furnished when we moved in, but there were a few things we needed to buy. Most of our stuff is secondhand whether it’s relatives getting rid of things or from a charity shop or vintage store.
Some things have to be new, like towels or bedsheets but when it comes to cutlery or decor, I always look secondhand first. Sometimes the vintage finds are better! I found some cute vinyl coasters which are much nicer than generic new ones.
10. Reuse What You Can
It should go without saying, but we reuse what we can.
We keep takeout containers for storing food. Shopping bags can be reused again and again.
Although COVID-19 has somewhat thwarted reusable coffee cups from taking off, we do have reusable cups, straws, and water bottles.
11. Get Some Houseplants
One day I would love to have a big garden but for now houseplants have to do when it comes to eco-friendly apartment living. How much houseplants actually “clean” the air seems to be overhyped, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
I’d love to be able to grow some peppers and other veggies. One of the first things I got was some aloe vera, so I can use it for my skin without needing to buy products.
Bonus tip: to cut down on water use, try to water your plants with cooled down pasta water. It always felt like a waste to me to throw pasta water down the drain but it contains nutrients that are good for plants. If should go without saying that you shouldn’t water them with anything funny, like the water left over from cleaning dishes.
12. Compost If Possible
One of the biggest things I’m struggling with when it comes to being eco-friendly in an apartment is no longer having a compost bin. When researching for this post, a lot of other bloggers suggested just using someone elses’ compost bin, which is kind of cheeky!
I will admit to having put some apple cores into a biodegradable takeaway coffee cup before going home one weekend. However, my plan is not to mooch off my parent’s compost bin. Some food scraps are okay to feed your plants. Other food scraps can be used for DIY facemasks like banana peel or onion skins.
On the topic of skincare: I cut out cotton pads by removing my make-up with a reusable microfiber cloth.
13. Food Prep
One thing we’re pretty good at is not leaving leftovers. There’s only so much you can upcycle or give the plants. One thing we already did before navigating being green when renting was preparing food in advance. Neither of us are bothered by eating the same meal for a few days so we make a large portion of dinner and eat it for the next few days.
This also saves electricity because we’re not using the oven or the stove every single day.
If you are going to meal prep: be sure to practice good food hygiene. Some foods can’t be reheated so always double check.
Have you any tips on how to be green in an apartment? Do you think it’s tricker to be sustainable when renting? I hope these eco-friendly apartment living tips helped!