Written by Nathaniel Longmore
When I moved into my first apartment, I recognized very quickly that I lacked control over many
sustainability efforts I had been working toward. Renting a house or apartment typically doesn’t
allow for choices in energy-efficient appliances and green materials, water and electricity use, or
trash and recycling habits. These were all concerns of mine when I moved into an apartment
complex when I was used to having my own backyard compost bin and living with others that
took steps towards reducing our effect on the environment.
The good news, though, is that living a greener lifestyle isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. There are
still a lot of options for renting in a more eco-friendly fashion and you can still control many
aspects of apartment living in relation to sustainability. Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas for
controlling what you can:
While the luxury of a backyard compost bin isn’t really an option, that doesn’t mean composting
has to hit the curb. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’re much closer to a renter-friendly
composting opportunity than you think. The Sustainable Broomfield Compost Club makes
composting a breeze with a variety of convenient ways to make sure your compost can still find
its way to soil. In fact, they’ll even provide you with a compost bin that includes a list of what can
and can’t be composted. Finding a way to compost from my apartment was the first step I took
in making my apartment more eco-friendly, and Sustainable Broomfield’s seamless process is
an incredible option.
2. Save second-hand home goods from the landfill
Let’s talk sprucing up your home with eco-friendly and budget-friendly furniture, decor, cooking
and dining ware, and more. Unwanted items like silverware, pots and pans, wall art, rugs, and
even bigger items like dressers and tables, are often discarded when they could just be
rehoused to a new, loving owner. Home goods still in great condition or in need of a little TLC,
and even some unique vintage pieces, can easily be found at local thrift stores or on apps and
sites like the Facebook Marketplace. You’ll often score a great deal on some great stuff,
sometimes even adopting your new-to-you furnishings for free. And, of course, don’t forget to
return the favor and donate or sell your own stuff instead of throwing it in the trash.
3. Laundry, cleaning, and dishes, oh my!
Okay, maybe you’re not as excited about this one, but it has to get done. Why not make it more
eco-friendly? Appliances, while you likely won’t have much control over them, can still allow for
a little wiggle room when it comes to environmental impact. Saving water by using your
dishwasher (if your apartment has one), washing your clothes in cold water, and using washable
rags and cloth napkins are all simple yet effective ways to work with what you got. You can also switch out traditional laundry detergent and dish soap for ones that come in bar form or less plastic. Bonus tip: instead of buying rags to avoid using paper towels, you can cut up old shirts or towels!
4. A classic: reduce, reuse, recycle
We went over reducing a little bit, but opting for products with less or no plastic is a small way to
make a big difference. If your apartment offers recycling, be sure to take advantage of it. If not,
you can bring your recycling to a local center. Many recycling centers also accept different types
of plastics and other materials that are harder to recycle that your apartment’s recycling options
may not allow. And, when in doubt, reuse or repurpose it! Get crafty; clean out those pickle jars,
soup cans, and milk jugs.
5. No need to turn on the waterworks
Dilute your environmental impact and stop buying single-use plastic water bottles. Not only do
they hurt your wallet, they really hurt the environment. If your apartment allows it, try installing a
water filter for tap water, or buy a filtered water pitcher. On a similar note, taking quicker
showers and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth will make a big impact on both your
water bill and the natural resource.
If you’ve previously taken steps to reduce your environmental impact, you know it’s not always
easy being green. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, even when you don’t have as much
control over the place you call home. While renting can place some limits on your sustainability
efforts, adopting habits and practices like these to change things where you can are totally worth the work.