If you’re looking to go green in your apartment or condo, you might find it more difficult than your friends living in houses. While they can add solar panels to their roofs and grow their own vegetables in backyard gardens, you might feel like there are fewer options for your smaller space. Fear not, size doesn’t matter when it comes to going green and there are many things apartment and condo dwellers can do to reduce their carbon footprint every day.
Small changes can make a huge difference and positively impact the Earth. We have 5 easy ways you can help make your home greener and friendlier for the environment starting today.
1. More Natural Materials/No More Synthetics
The first step to going green in your home is to start thinking about the materials you’re buying. This can be as simple as your new curtains or bed sheets. When buying new fabrics, opt for natural materials over synthetic whenever possible. Did you know synthetic fabrics release chemicals over time? This is called “off-gassing” and the funky smell that comes from certain fabrics is the result of the chemical treated fabric releasing gas into the air and into your home. In fact, this process can continue after you no longer smell that funky scent, as many dangerous chemicals have no smell at all.
The easiest way to stop off-gassing is to stop buying synthetic materials. When it comes to buying big furniture items like couches and armchairs, to smaller materials like bedding and towels, opt instead for natural fabrics that you can easily wash such as cotton or wool. Be sure to wash any fabrics that have a funky smell and let them dry out in the sun to help with that odour. Area rugs and carpets are said to be the biggest offender when it comes to off-gassing. If you’re looking for a quick fix, get rid of that rug today and replace it with a more natural alternative.
2. Waste Less Water
We’ve talked about the importance of fixing a leaky tap. Did you know that a tap that drips six drops a minute will lose approximately 1200 litres of water a year, that’s equivalent to seven bathtubs worth! If you have leaky pipes or a running toilet, be sure to get them fixed. If you rent, ask your landlord to fix them as soon as possible. It is their responsibility to fix it and this should come at no extra cost to you. Besides leaky sinks, there are other ways we waste water without even realizing it. The first place we waste water is while doing dishes. If you keep the water running the whole time you wash your dishes, you’re doing more harm than good. An alternative to letting the water run the whole time is the Two Tub Method. Buy two large metal containers (or use some you might already have around the house) and fill one with warm soapy water. Fill the other with water for rinsing. This way your dishes can soak without having the water running the whole time. Once you’ve scrubbed them clean in the soapy water container, give them a rinse in the other container and leave them out to dry.
Another big water waster is laundry. When you wash your clothes, make sure you have a full load ready to go as only washing a half load still uses a full load of water. If you’re using a shared laundry room in your apartment, try to do your laundry at non-peak hours, these are usually around 6-8 am and 8-10 pm. Wash your clothes in cold water if you can, and try to air dry when the weather allows for it. These small water changes will have a huge impact on your water consumption and an even bigger impact on the Earth.
3. Apartment-Friendly Plants & Herbs
House plants can do more good for you and your home than you might realize. House plants do a lot of good for the space around them and the air we breathe. If you will remember some early grade school science, plants take in carbon dioxide and put oxygen into the air. They also absorb toxic chemicals and soak up heavy metals deep into the plant tissues and away from us. Adding apartment and condo friendly plants to your home is also a great way to aid in any synthetic fabrics that are off-gassing in your home.
Think about your home before you buy your next plant. Does your apartment get a lot of natural sunlight? No? Then consider buying a spider plant, a snake plant, or a peace lily. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your condo, then try adding an aloe plant, a ficus, or a Boston fern. A quick search online will help you find the best plants for your household needs.
Another easy way to get the benefits from plants is to start an herb garden. This mason jar DIY herb garden is perfect for keeping fresh herbs growing right in the kitchen. Not only do you get the added benefit of plants in your home, you also have fresh herbs ready for every meal, a win-win for you.
Composting has become a popular disposal method for many Canadians in recent years. Environment Canada found that biodegradable materials like food waste make up approximately 40% of all residential waste in Canada. It’s no surprise with a number like that, that more and more Canadians are looking for easy ways to compost. If you live in a condo or apartment, there are now options when it comes to composting. You can make your own indoor compost bin easily, all you need is a bin, soil and some old newspaper. There are many great tutorials online, but we like this one especially. If making your own compost bin sounds like more effort than you would like to put in, you can always buy an indoor composting system, however, these do come in at a higher price point.
5. Power Off and Unplug
Last but not least, here’s an easy rule to follow and start doing today: if it’s not in use, unplug it. How guilty are all of keeping our phone charger always plugged into the wall for easy charging, even when the phone isn’t even charging? While you may not think this is a big deal, simply unplugging it from the wall when you’re not using it makes huge a difference. Did you know that most electronic devices stay on even when they’re turned off? The energy that escapes our devices even when they’re turned off and not in use called “phantom energy.” To stop this waste of energy, simply unplug your devices when they’re out of use or use a surge protector and flip the switch to the off position. Try adding a charging station to your home, this way you only need to unplug the main source of power to stop the phantom energy from escaping. You can find lots of DIYs and tutorials online for different types of charging stations.
Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day and April is known as Earth Month. With that in mind, start small with one or two tips this week and try to incorporate more throughout the month. Every little change you make adds up, and before you know it, you’ll be living a more eco-friendly, greener, and healthier life. The Earth will thank you!