While homeowners often have numerous options for making their homes greener, renters might feel limited in their ability to adopt sustainable practices. However, even as a renter, you can still make meaningful green changes to your living space without making costly investments in someone else's property.
When searching for your next rental property, prioritize locations within walking or biking distance to your daily activities or close to public transportation. This will reduce your reliance on a car and help conserve fuel. Look for green communities with parks, restaurants, and businesses nearby, as well as a farmers' market or local grocer, to support local farmers and enjoy fresh produce.
Moving into a new space presents the perfect opportunity to redecorate. Instead of purchasing new furniture, consider visiting antique stores, flea markets, or searching on Craigslist for used items. This will save you money and help prevent perfectly good items from ending up in a landfill.
If your landlord permits, paint your walls using low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint to minimize the release of harmful toxins into your living environment.
Look for rentals with plenty of natural light to improve air quality with houseplants and grow your own herbs or small vegetables.
While you may not want to invest in a more efficient dishwasher or washing machine as a renter, simple changes to your everyday habits can make a significant environmental impact. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends only running your washing machine and dishwasher when full to avoid waste. Also, consider taking shorter showers and turning off the water while brushing your teeth to conserve water.
Older rental properties tend to be poorly insulated. Add inexpensive weather stripping to doors and windows or plastic glazing to windows (with your landlord's permission) to improve temperature control. Shades and blinds can also help regulate the indoor temperature.
Replace regular bulbs with incandescent lights, compact fluorescents, or LEDs to save energy. Although they may cost more initially, they'll ultimately save you money and can be taken with you when you move out.
While you may not want to invest in new appliances for your rental, you can still choose energy-efficient options when it comes to smaller appliances like coffee makers, toaster ovens, and air purifiers. Look for Energy Star-rated products, which use less energy and often have built-in power-saving features.
Adjusting your thermostat settings when you're not home or while you're sleeping can save energy and reduce your utility bills. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that allows you to set specific temperatures for different times of the day. If your rental has an outdated thermostat, talk to your landlord about upgrading to a more energy-efficient model.
Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products to minimize the release of harmful chemicals into your living space and the local ecosystem. Look for products that are biodegradable, made from plant-based ingredients, and free of synthetic fragrances and dyes.
Incorporate the three Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—into your daily habits. Purchase items with minimal packaging, use reusable grocery bags, and recycle paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum whenever possible. You can also reuse containers, jars, and other items for storage or DIY projects.
Unplug electronics and chargers when not in use, as they can still consume energy even when turned off. Use power strips with built-in surge protectors, which allow you to turn off multiple devices with a single switch. Additionally, consider using energy-saving modes on your devices and appliances.
Even if you don't have access to a yard or outdoor space, you can still grow a container garden on a windowsill or balcony. Plant herbs, small vegetables, and flowers in pots or repurposed containers to add greenery to your living space and enjoy fresh produce.
Talk to your landlord and neighbors about implementing eco-friendly practices within your apartment building or community. This can include setting up a recycling program, installing energy-efficient lighting in common areas, or creating a community garden.
Conclusion: By following these tips, renters can make simple yet effective changes to live more sustainably, contribute to a healthier environment, and even save money in the process.
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