It’s hard to imagine that you can live in mainstream society and uphold all the responsibilities expected of you while staying true to your commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle.
If you’re living in an urban jungle and space is hard to come by or if space is simply an expensive commodity, you will most likely be looking for or currently living in an apartment. So without building your own property, having the freedom to make substantial changes to the building or having a lot of space to work with, how can you live an eco-friendly lifestyle?
What to look for in an apartment if eco is your ‘thing’
You are in a more advantageous position than most if you are looking for an apartment as opposed to already living in one – you get to choose one in line with your eco-friendly standards. Fortunately, developers of new apartment buildings are acutely aware of the increasing demand for green homes and are increasing the sustainability attributes of their designs.
Here are some key four eco-friendly features to look out for when searching for a new apartment:
1. Proximity to amenities
Limiting your traveling or commuting time cuts down on fossil fuels emitted and your carbon footprint overall. The most obvious way to do this is to choose a location that’s close to public transport links and other amenities such as shops, entertainment, offices, garbe etc. Cutting down on car use is a big deal for eco-friendly tenants. Well-lit walkways and bike paths are also a priority to facilitate eco-friendly travel. High on the list should also be the apartment building’s proximity to ‘green spaces’ such as parks and gardens, lakes and beaches.
2. Recycling facilities
Onsite recycling facilities should be a given for every apartment block, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Be sure that your new residence either has recycling drop-off within the actual facility or that you can walk to a public recycling facility.
Another thing to look out for is composting facilities and if your apartment doesn’t have this already, find out if it’s something that can be implemented. If not, you may need to use an indoor composting system such as Bokashi composting.
And if your apartment allows you to keep pets, don’t forget to check facilities and methods for composting pet waste.
3. Energy efficiency
Energy- and water-efficient complexes not only cut down on utility bills for the occupiers but also reduce the unnecessary consumption of valuable resources. Look for Energy Star double-glazed windows and inquire about insulation and plumbing fixtures. Of course, apartments that are entirely powered by renewable energy would be the dream, but if that’s not available, look for LEED certification. LED light fixtures and energy-efficient HVAC units are also quite important in keeping consumption down.
You could also consider apartment blocks that share services. While it’s quite a radical step for some, shared services rely on one centralized boiler, water tank, and plumbing system and have proven to be extremely environmentally-friendly.
4. Building materials
Inquire as to the materials of the actual building – were recycled materials used or were building materials sourced locally? Internally, are furnishings made from natural or synthetic materials? Non-toxic paint is a major consideration for many tenants concerned about their health in urban places, and a reduction in chemical exposure for everyone is a massive plus. The other thing you should remember, particularly in an old apartment building, is asbestos exposure.
Everyday tips green apartment living
Ok so if you’re already in an apartment or you’ve just moved into one, there are plenty of ways you can individually control the impact you have directly on the environment. Here are some green apartment living tips:
1. Grow a green thumb
Grow as many vegetables and fruits as you physically can on your patio or balcony as well as inside. Do some research and learn which plants can survive inside your home and get to it! Your own little farm will go a long way towards reducing your carbon footprint. Greenery will also look beautiful in your apartment and is fun to watch grow. Check out these tips for gardening in a tiny apartment.
2. Clean with green
Clean your home, face, teeth, nails and everything else you can with natural products that will not only prevent further pollution our seas and rivers but will also be gentle on your body and good for your health. Lemon, baking soda and vinegar are staples in our grandparents’ kitchens for a reason.
3. Recycle and reuse
Recycle every bit of waste you can and if there aren’t onsite facilities to encourage this, ask the powers that be if you can implement a recycling program for all tenants.
Reusing old items and limiting trash is also key to eco-friendly apartment life. Transform unwanted items into new, useful and fashionable home accessories and opt for supermarkets where you can refill containers you already have with food.
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you are doomed to an unsustainable lifestyle. Do some googling, choose your property wisely and be conscious of your day-to-day life within it, and you’ll be living a greener life in no time.