How to Live Sustainably When You Don’t Own Your Home
One day, you dream of owning a sustainable home that’s powered by the sun where you can grow your own food and live in alignment with your values. But for now, you rent.
Your green dream home might be out of reach right now, but eco-friendly living doesn’t have to be. There are choices and changes renters can make for greener living at home.
What to consider when choosing an eco-friendly apartment
Where you live has a big impact on your ability to live sustainably. Choose a location where you can walk, bike, or take public transportation most places instead of driving. If you commute by bicycle, ask about on-site bike parking and storage.
LEED certification indicates a property was built to sustainable and energy-efficient standards. While LEED-certified apartments are relatively uncommon outside of cities like New York City, Seattle, and Chicago, the numbers are increasing: Around 15% of new apartments built each year are LEED-certified.
Appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washers and dryers are among the biggest energy users in a home, and old, outdated appliances consume more energy than newer models. Choosing an apartment with Energy Star-rated appliances will cut your energy bills and conserve resources.
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Not all cities require apartment buildings to provide recycling, so always ask how a community handles household waste. If your building doesn’t offer recycling, you may be able to convince your landlord to start a recycling program or find a nearby drop-off facility to take recyclables. Some cities have a municipal composting program to collect food waste.
5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint in a rental
Choose a green mover
When you need someone to haul furniture down two flights of stairs, look beyond price and pay attention to a moving company’s practices. You can learn a lot from reading moving reviews on a platform like Angi, but don’t be afraid to ask your furniture mover if they right-size moving trucks, minimize trips, and use reusable materials to reduce their carbon footprint.
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Purchase renewable energy
You can’t install solar panels on your rental, but depending on where you live, you may be able to direct your electric company to purchase power from renewable sources like wind and solar.
Install LED bulbs
LED light bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Unlike other types of bulbs which waste most of their energy on heat, LEDs produce light efficiently with minimal heat loss.
Use smart power strips
Energy vampires account for as much as 20% of your home’s energy use. Smart power strips are an easy way to curb energy vampires. Just plug devices like computer chargers, TVs, and video game consoles into a smart power strip and they’ll automatically turn off when not in use.
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Create a zero-waste kitchen
Buying in bulk and storing produce and pantry items in reusable containers is one of Root Journey’s best tips to eliminate kitchen waste. You can also make your own cleaning solutions to cut back on plastic and compost kitchen scraps instead of throwing them out. Compost doesn’t smell as long as you manage it correctly (yes, even indoors!).
Landlords, take note! The demand for green apartments is growing as renters seek homes that reflect their eco-conscious values. From car-free to waste-free, energy-efficient to climate-forward, the rentals of the future are more than a place to live. They’re a place to thrive.
Learn more about sustainable living and support your journey to wellness at Root Journey.
By Lisa Walker of Neighborhoodsprout.org