Being green in an apartment can sometimes present more challenges than when you are living in a house, specifically because the apartment complex dictates various policies to the renters. However, there are plenty of little changes you can make that will have a positive impact on the planet. We’ve collected 5 different New Year’s Resolutions you can put into effect that will show your love for the environment.
1) Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Growing up, we didn’t put a lot of thought into what we used to clean our home. Does it smell good? Does it do what we want? Sold! However, many of the classic brands of detergent, soap, and other cleaning supplies are far from natural and have a definite impact on the environment. This applies to how they’re created, used, and thrown away.
According to Seventh Generation, if each American household replaced just one bottle of the usual petroleum-based detergent with a plant-based one, enough oil could be saved to power around 8,500 homes!
Our recommendation? Actually read the labels of the products you use to clean your home, find some eco-friendly products you like, and show the Earth a little more green love than you have in the past.
2) Use Reusable Shopping Bags
Even though space is at a premium in most apartments, I would bet that you have a drawer or a cupboard bursting at the seams with plastic shopping bags. Take them all to your nearest recycling station (likely at your local supermarket) and instead buy a couple of reusable bags.
Trust me: I know that using plastic bags when shopping is a hard habit to quit, but they are the very antithesis of green. They are produced from petroleum products, so their actual creation isn’t eco-friendly, and their disposal isn’t either. They don’t degrade easily (think in the hundreds of years), and they get everywhere. Just imagine the side of your average American highway (or grocery store parking lot), and then stop to consider that they’re found inside of animals all too regularly.
I prefer the canvas bags that can pack down really small, because then I can always have one on me – whether in my car or the basket of my bicycle. This is a switch that can really make a difference. Just don’t beat yourself up if you forget a time or two.
3) Eliminate Phantom Power
We are all guilty of leaving devices plugged in: our televisions, our phones even when they are fully charged, microwaves, and more. But did you know that each of these devices still pulls current even when not in active use? Some experts estimate that phantom power needs can account for as much as 15% of the energy used by your electronics.
If you can’t face unplugging all your devices every night or while you are work, invest in some timers to do the work for you. You can also purchase a “smart” power strip, one where you can turn off only certain outlets – complete with control from a smartphone app. There is absolutely no need to pay for energy you are not using.
4) Rein in the Carnivore
Did you know that livestock are conservatively estimated to be responsible for nearly 15% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions? That is the number given by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Vegetarians actually have half the carbon footprint of the average carnivore, because it isn’t just the actual livestock you have to consider, but the requirements to make the food for the livestock, process the meat, and more.
You can also simply switch where you buy your meat. Purchase from local farmers who use greener processes and steer clear (pun intended) of factory-farmed meats.
5) Go Paperless
In the last decade, everything from energy bills to magazine subscriptions has gone online. Take advantage of this customer-friendly green trend and choose to receive everything in your email instead of your mailbox.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “What about all the junk mail?” We recommend investigating how to “opt out” of junk mail listings, credit card solicitations, and unsolicited catalog mailings, because YES, you can opt out! Doing so helps the environment and stops the flow of paper from your mailbox straight to your recycling bin.