Is green the new black? Reducing, reusing and recycling the items we use every day can have a big impact on the environment. We only have one planet and we all could be making some simple and easy lifestyle changes that will help to conserve our limited resources. We’ve compiled a few easy ways for renters to go green. Check them out below:
don’t forget your reusable bags
My boyfriend took me to the dump once (no, it wasn’t a date – he’s in construction) and it was staggering to see all of the plastic bags blowing around and covering the fence. Ever since then, I always keep my Envirosax reusable bag handy in my purse. It’s great because it folds up really small, holds a lot of stuff and is always with me. I never realized how many plastic and paper bags I was consuming myself until I decided to try to never use one again.
I also keep all of the free reusable bags that I’ve collected (from trade shows, gift bags, retail store giveaways) grouped together in my kitchen so they’re easy to grab when I go to the store. You can also keep a few in your car so they’re easy to grab when you’re at the market or out shopping. I’ve also recently purchased reusable produce bags from The Container Store to save even more plastic bags. So instead of wrapping your vegetables in plastic, wrap them in sleek white washable bags.
Try swapping out a paper or plastic bag for a reusable one next time you’re going grocery shopping, grabbing take out, or purchasing items like clothing or housewares.
According to the Department of Energy, if you’re walking away from your computer for more than two hours, you should turn it off. Over the course of a year, you can save nearly $100 by some estimates. Whenever I go out of town, I also unplug electrical appliances I obviously won’t be using like my coffee maker, under cabinet lighting, printer, and lamps. Even though they’re off, they still pull power from the outlets. And in winter, I keep my window A/C unit unplugged until those hot summer days when I need it.
reduce energy by requesting a screen door
You can reduce your energy usage and electricity bill by requesting the installation of a screen door to your apartment. Ask your Landlord before installing one to see if this is allowed and if there are any restrictions. If they’re allowed, ask your Landlord if they’ll cover the cost or negotiate to sign a longer renewal if they’ll add one. Opening all of the windows and having a screen door allows for the air flow to cool your suite naturally – without the need to run an electric A/C unit.
keep a set of cutlery and cups at your desk
You can save 275 million pounds of plastic from being produced and thrown away every year by keeping a set of cutlery at your desk. I like to keep my reusable flatware in a pretty mug in my desk drawer that I use for my morning coffee instead of those throw away paper or Styrofoam cups. And coffee tastes better out of a fancy mug anyway. You can wash them in the bathroom or office kitchen after use or store them in a reusable lunch bag that you can take home with you every night along with a reusable water bottle.
We even take this idea a step further when we get takeout – we take the plastic utensils and paper napkins out of the bag and give them back to the restaurant before we leave. If we’re going to eat at home, we have our own cutlery there. And we’ll almost always give them back the plastic bag too and use our Envirosax.
pay your bills online
Think of all the bills and statements you get each month: cable, credit card, car insurance, banking, cellphone, electricity, gas. If everyone went paperless for all of their bills, it could add up to a lot of trees. I love paperless billing because I don’t have to file all of my statements and with recurring auto-pay, I never have to worry about a late fee or if my paper check got lost in the mail. If you’re interested in paying your rent online too, let your Landlord know. Some larger buildings may already offer this service, but if you’re in a smaller building, your management team or Landlord may not have thought of this as an option yet. Good news for you and them, you can set it up to be recurring so your rent is always on time.
opt out of receiving junk mail & catalogs
You can opt-out of receiving annoying junk mail and too many catalogs to help save paper, trees, and recycling energy by requesting that your address be removed from their list.
Now, we LOVE looking through home decor catalogs, but sometimes we don’t have the time to do so before the next one comes. And when we looked at how many we were receiving, we looked for the opt-out button and opted-in to perusing online. I was happy to see many places offered an online catalog that looks just as pretty as the printed ones.
You can opt out here:
- Yellow Pages Phonebook
- Red Plum/Valassis Coupon Pack
- Valpack Coupon Pack
- Crate & Barrel Catalog
- CB2 Catalog
- Pottery Barn Catalog
- Restoration Hardware Catalog
- Newspaper Coupons: Call 1.800.528.4637 x 72655 and request to be removed from the “Los Angeles Times Local Values” (this number is always listed at the bottom of each junk mail newspaper packet).
- Here are some other great tips from Martha Stewart
Many apartment communities have a recycling program for residents that can help get you started on reducing waste in your apartment. If your building has a recycling bin, it’s easy to separate your trash and recyclables. The Container Store has a fab garbage/recycle bin combo that you can easily hide in a cabinet, or under the sink which makes it easy to keep things separate. If you’re not sure what can be recycled, just look on the packaging for the triangle of arrows that denotes that it is recyclable.
You can also reduce waste by making a pledge to stop using plastic water bottles in your home. Buy a water filter and/or a reusable water bottle and you’ll save a ton of cash and plastic from going into the landfill. Perk up that filtered water by adding lemon slices or cucumber and mint for a refreshing and pretty treat for guests.
How do you go green as a renter? Let us know in the comments below.