There are many ways to establish a more eco-friendly apartment. Use any of the six suggestions below to help you on your journey toward a healthier earth and a healthier you. Try one goal at a time and before you know it you will leave a sizably smaller carbon footprint.
Is It Trash?
One of the easiest ways to start your eco-friendly apartment adventure is to re-access the way you dispose of stuff. Pickle jars, for example. could be thrown away, or washed and put in the recycling bin, but here’s a better solution: wash and dry glass jars and use them for a multitude of purposes around your apartment. Glass jars make excellent vessels to root plants on a windowsill, store dried foods in and keep your pens and pencils handy. No need to buy a vase for fresh-cut flowers either, simply use one of your glass jars.
Small jars with lids can be fastened to the bottom of cupboards to hold herbs and spices and instructions for many ideas can be found on sites like Food52 or Shareably. Have fun with new projects and help keep our landfills smaller.
Shopping for your Eco-Friendly Apartment
We all need to purchase food and household maintenance items but when you shop, remember to read labels on food and beauty products–particularly cleaning products. The fewer the number of ingredients on a food label the higher the chances are that you are about to purchase something that is what you think it is.
Many foods contain preservatives that create longer shelf lives–not necessarily a bad thing—but know what you are buying. Soap and shampoo should be almost safe enough to eat, though that is not suggested. If a cleaning product is so harsh it makes you cry simply by opening it, odds are it is not good for you, or the environment.
Whether you live in a small apartment in a bustling Chicago neighborhood like Wicker Park or a huge place in New York City, one of the easiest ways to minimize your carbon footprint and create a more eco-friendly apartment is to re-claim furniture, textiles and household goods at thrift stores, second-hand or charity shops. Often these stores will have that perfect chair you have been looking for. With a little bit of cleaning and refurbishing, you can have a quality piece of furniture for much less than you would have paid had it been new. And again, you are lessening the amount of waste in the universe.
There are times when an item has outlived its original purpose and you must retire it. However, before you throw something like an old towel away, think about how it could be re-used.
Check out on-line craft sites to discover how old towels can be turned into things like bathmats, shower caddies, re-usable Swiffer pads, stuffed animals or potholders. Use your imagination and you may never throw an old towel away again.
What About Lightbulbs?
As small as a lightbulb is, the type of bulb you use can subtly change your apartment into a more eco-friendly environment. Switch out your existing incandescent, halogen and fluorescent bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs. The cost per bulb is slightly higher but instead of replacing light bulbs every year.
Bonus tip: these lightbulbs can come in handy if you’re a house-flipper looking to save money on rental units, too!
LEDs can last over twenty years. Not only are LEDs more energy efficient but they have health benefits to you. LEDs contain no mercury, don’t flicker—which contributes to eye strain—and don’t produce extreme heat like a halogen bulb.
An LED does not require special care to dispose of when it no longer works and because it is solid-state and no glass housing is needed. Everyone has experienced the small disaster of a broken light bulb–not fun.
Finally, the Color Rendering Index is the way to determine how much true color is visible using various lighting sources and LEDs have very good CRIs.
Green is Good
By investing in living plants, you are investing in cleaner air in your apartment. Growing plants take a small amount of time and the benefits are numerous. A Dutch study concluded that gardening, even in small amounts, can reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress.
Plants are the hardest working part of your apartment’s décor. They absorb toxins from the air–including carbon dioxide–and they produce oxygen. To begin, visit a garden center. Indoor plants are generally tropical plants that are grown in containers. Most plants have labels tucked into the soil that describe optimum growing conditions. If you are unsure, start with a few small plants and experiment.
Luxurious and Useful
Bed linens, bath towels, and kitchen textiles can also help you become more eco-friendly. When shopping for these items look for bamboo sheets and towels. Bamboo bed linens help moderate your skin temperature as you sleep. Towels made from bamboo are so absorbent that you can dry your entire body with a towel the size of a washcloth.
It doesn’t take much time to create an eco-friendly apartment. You just have to start with one small change, then make it a habit to pursue a lifestyle that is healthier for you and allows you to be part of the movement to protect our planet.
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