If you currently reside in an apartment, congratulations! You have taken the first step toward efficient and green living. Naturally, since houses are larger in size, they require more money, time, and resources to run well. Not only are smaller spaces much easier to manage; they also take less time to clean and maintain, and are often much more efficient in terms of eco-friendliness.
Converting to an environmentally friendly household isn't as tricky or time-consuming as you may think. With a few simple steps, you and your family can be well on your way to decreasing your carbon footprint and feeling happier and healthier in general.
1. Energy efficiency
Heat: Don't heat an empty house. During the winter, turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees F when you're home and 55 degrees F at night and while you're out of town.
Computer: Even when your computer goes to sleep, it's still consuming energy. Turn your computer and monitor off at the end of the day.
Embrace Natural Light: When the sun is shining, providing natural light in your space, keep the lights off if you can. Turn them off when you go to sleep or leave the house.
Light bulbs: Replace light bulbs with more compact bulbs that give less heat and use less energy when cooling.
Unplug Appliances: When not using appliances, be sure to unplug. If you are the type of person who loves to keep everything plugged up even when you’re not using it, then consider getting a power strip to which you can plug everything and preserve energy.
Fill the Freezer: Keep your freezer full — it runs more efficiently than an empty one.
2. Water Conservation
Drinking tap water from the sink or filtered water is quite easy to do, less expensive, and in no ways harmful to your body (providing there is no known warning for a contamination issue).
Reusable Bottles: Purchase a giant reusable bottle, and filter water through it with a pitcher. When you're on the go, make it a habit to carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
Bathroom Habits: Excellent hygiene is a necessity, and hot showers, jacuzzis and bubble baths are one of life's true pleasures. But most people use a lot of water — sometimes more than is actually required for cleanliness.
3. Save Paper
Napkins: Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins at dinner.
E-tickets: Buy e-tickets when you go to the movies through apps like Fandango, and get e-tickets and boarding passes when traveling by train or plane.
Paperless Billing: Most companies have gone green. Pay your bills online (and opt for paperless billing). You can even file your taxes electronically, and look into having your tax forms emailed to you instead of mailed as well.
Share Reading Materials: Buy used or e-books instead of new, and share your magazines and catalogues with friends — read, then pass them on. In fact, Goodwill, the Kidney Foundation and other used goods collection agencies will often accept used magazines as donations. You can also pass them along to a doctor's office for patients to enjoy in the waiting room. If you haven't done so already, cancel your newspaper subscription read the news online instead.
Recycle: If you have any questions about which items can be recycled and which belong in the trash, here's a handy chart.
4. Decorate with Plants
Bringing the outdoors inside not only spruces up your apartment; it also helps clean out the air! House plants reduce air pollution by filtering out common volatile organic compounds. Here are two common plants to welcome into your apartment for cleaner air:
Aloe Vera: Place this plant by a sunny kitchen window. It helps clear out the room of formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more.
Spider Plant: This plant requires very little care, but its rich foliage and tiny white flowers battle formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide.
5. Lunch & Coffee
Pack lunch for you and your kids in an insulated lunch bag instead of paper or plastic bags. While you're at it, choose organic food when you can — it's more affordable than you think. Take your own mug to the coffee shop — some shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup.
There are a number of ways to go green in your apartment and daily lifestyle. Saving money and time as well as being eco-friendly is worth the minor changes. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make toward creating a healthy, sustainable planet.