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This is the situation: you are trying to become greener. You have already ditched plastic bottles, bags and coffee cups.
And you’re ready to take the next step. You sit in your rented apartment trying to figure out how to make it more eco-friendly.
But there’s a problem: you don’t own the place, so the changes you can make seem to be VERY limited.
And everything you see on the internet is: install solar panels! Isolate the floor, the walls, and the ceiling! Change the windows! Change the door!
But don’t worry, I gotcha.
There are actually many things – actually doable – that can help you have an eco-friendly home, even when everything seems to be out of your control.
These tips are exclusively things that you can do about your home, but if you want to check more ways to be more sustainable check out this post to reduce your carbon footprint or this one to reduce your waste on a budget.
1. LED light bulbs
Next time you have to change the lightbulbs, make sure to get LEDs. They are both better for the environment and for you – they don’t contain bad stuff other lightbulbs have such as mercury or UV light.
They will last for a very very long time, so you won’t have to worry about changing them in years.
And they consume way less electricity than conventional bulbs. Which also will help you save money.
Even if they are slightly more expensive, you’ll save $$ in the long run. Buying and using an LED bulb for 3 hours a day for a whole year is 2.81 dollars while doing the same with an incandescent bulb is 8.89 dollars.
2. Conserve as much water as possible
Just don’t be wasteful. We were all very young when we learned that we had to turn off the lights before leaving a room and close the taps while we’re brushing our teeth.
So apply that knowledge, it’s a basic.
3. Fix drippy taps
On that same line: fix any tap that is dripping all day. You’ll save SO MUCH water in the long run.
One drippy tap can waste as much as 5 gallons of water per day and over 2,000 gallons per year.
And you’ll finally get rid of that annoying *drip* *drop*.
4. Install a low-flow showerhead
You’ll save a lot of water, and consequently a lot of money.
A family can save around 2,900 gallons of water and between 40 and 60 dollars per year (all depending on how long and hot your showers are).
These heads are so easy to find and install. And you can find a ton of options at different price points.
This high-efficiency showerhead is my personal favorite. We installed it over a year ago now and it still works perfectly – our water usually contains a lot of metals and that hasn’t stopped the showerhead from working, which is impressive.
The price/quality ration of that one is amazing, but if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, check this one out.
5. Don’t go crazy with the thermostat
I know I know, it’s a temptation. Who doesn’t want to be all warm and cozy and snuggly and toasty during the winter and fresh and sweat-less in the summertime?
But don’t go bananas with the heating/cooling.
Just be strategic: dress for the weather, and have a cold/hot tea according to the weather.
6. Don’t leave your electronics on standby
Ok. Now read it again and really remember to do it.
This is something SO SIMPLE that almost no one does.
You can save more than 10 dollars a year for EACH electronic you have plugged in, even if you’re not using it – some smart people did the math here and the whole thing is pretty interesting.
7. Get a power strip that you can switch on and off
You know, one of those with the little red light.
They are reeeeal cheap, and actually make your life easier giving you that extra space you need to put all your electronics to charge.
Just make sure you turn it off when you’re not using it, like during the night, or when you’re not home.
Apply the savings from the previous point, and think how extremely easy power strips make this: just a finger movement and *snap* you save all that cash.
8. Use your dishwasher only when its fully loaded
And if your dishwasher is not energy efficient and you don’t have a busy household, maybe consider washing by hand.
Oh, and you don’t need to wash every single thing with boiling hot water *germophobes gasp*.
9. Do a full load of laundry – and use cold water when possible
Do your laundry only when you have enough clothes to fill the whole thing up. And do it with cold water as often as you can.
Generally, your daily laundry doesn’t need special care. And cold water is actually great at eliminating stains, and keeping the colors and quality of your clothes intact – then, making them last longer.
Almost 90% of the energy used by the washing machine goes to heating the water. So if you use cold water, you can save up to 1,600 pounds of CO2 yearly.
Extra sustainability points if you use a laundry bag with your synthetic clothes to avoid releasing microplastics into the ocean. Check out these ones from Guppyfriend.
10. Don’t use the drier
At least when it’s possible using a laundry line.
Fun fact: I grew up thinking that those two machines on movies and TV shows were two washing machines, and not a washing machine and a dryer lol. Just because I never saw anyone in using driers around me, or even selling them in the mall. Ever.
So I guess this is proof that laundry lines do the job. Mostly if you’re lucky enough to live in a sunny place.
11. Get some house plants
This helps you clean the air. It’s just healthier, less toxic.
And plants make for nice companions. The last addition to my plant gang is called Verde and I love her.
Front back to front: Verde, Pincho, Pancho. They’re happy to meet you.
Pro tip: spider plants are extremely hard to kill and amazing at cleaning the air.
12. Switch to non-toxic products to clean your home
There are so many alternatives.
The pricier version is directly buying the products. There are cleaning products that don’t have chemicals and weird stuff inside. You can usually find them in your everyday bio shop.
To my surprise, you can now also find them online. Like this all-purpose green tea and lime cleaner. This makes you think why on earth are we still using toxic stuff to clean our homes.
You have another option, and that’s making your own concoctions. There are dozens of “recipes” that use stuff that you might have around your home already – like baking soda and vinegar.
I strongly encourage you to give DIY cleaning products a try. You’ll be shocked at how powerful natural products are at killing bad microbes and smells.
Pro tip: This applies as well to other products like hair and skin! Really really consider switching to a non-toxic beauty routine.
13. Don’t take the elevator
I live in a 6th floor without elevator. And if I can live in these conditions, anyone can.
This applies to your home, your workplace, or anywhere you go – exceptions may apply, as in the case of working at the top of the Rockefeller.
Oh. And by skipping the elevator your glutes will thank you for the lift 😉
14. Cook smarter
Put on the lid while cooking. Or maybe use a pressure cooker to save time and energy.
Also consider meal prepping for the whole week in one day. You will use less energy because your oven or stove will be already hot and ready.
15. Use food scraps
Use vegetable scraps to make veggie stock, bones for bone broth,…
Get creative, there are many things you can do.
And when there’s nothing you can do to save your food scraps:
16. Consider composting
This is a great way to avoid throwing away your organic trash.
Even if you live in an apartment or don’t have a garden, many cities have composting programs that take your compost to share with other neighbors who need it.
Do your research, get a nice compost bin and there you go! I have my eyes set on this one because it looks so easy to assemble and use for a small human like me – many complains I’ve seen about compost tumblers is that they’re too heavy to turn.
17. Buy second-hand furniture
If you need furniture, why don’t you buy it in a second-hand store instead of new?
It will be waaay cheaper than the cheapest new furniture.
And you’ll be saving all the emissions related to the production and transportation of a brand new piece.
18. Get thicker curtains
This will help you keep the house cool during the summer, and cozy during the winter.
And in my opinion, they look waaay better than blinders. Such a nice way to give some flair and drama to the room.
19. Use rugs
Mostly during the winter in order to trap some extra heat.
I put them everywhere in the house. My living room looks like a bazaar full of carpets. Love it.
Pro tip: they are awesome at concealing sounds, so your annoying downstairs neighbor is not gonna come by complaining anymore about the stepping sounds.
20. Don’t use conventional dish soap or washing machine detergent
They usually have toxic substances. Ditch them along with your current cleaning supplies.
Think that these liquids we put in the washing machine or dishwasher go straight down the drain and into rivers and seas.
There are many alternatives to this – non-toxic and sometimes even plastic-free, YEY.
Now it’s your turn. What are your tips to create an eco-friendly home on rent?