Sustainability is all the rage lately – as it should be. If you’ve ever thought about all the things that go into more sustainable living in your day-to-day life, it may seem pretty overwhelming. Well, it turns out one of the easiest ways to make these changes is start start where you’re most comfortable: your home! So here we’ve rounded up 8 low-lift ways to reduce your waste and energy consumption while saving you some cash, too.
In the kitchen
Swap: paper towels for reusable dish rags
When you’re starting your sustainability journey, it helps to start by thinking of the single-use items you use on the daily, and the kitchen is a great place to start. Paper towels, for example, can easily be replaced by reusable cloths. For the sake of functionality, you can even buy some that come in paper towel-like rolls that will take their place. Your roommates won’t even bat an eye – that is, until they go to use one.
This option, for starters, can help to reduce waste from cooking and tidying up messes. But when you really think about it, this swap will save you quite a bit of cash in the long-term, too. Just throw soiled rags in with the rest of your laundry and they’ll come back good as new.
Take it one step further:
You can even put to use old clothing items, like tees and socks, as kitchen rags. Once they’re past their prime, just make sure you recycle them properly by sending them to a partner like GrowNYC, who turns your discarded textiles into rags or insulation.
Swap: one-off purchases for buying in bulk
Not ready to bid farewell to your favorite quilted paper products? Buying single-use items like paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper in bulk is also a step towards more sustainable living. By purchasing larger quantities of these supplies, you’re consuming a little less plastic packaging, plus you’re reducing carbon emissions just a touch by cutting back on shipments.
This is another swap that can save you both cash and precious time. Just imagine, never having to make another desperate sprint to the corner bodega when you realize just a little too late that your roommate used the last of the TP. This simple hack is one that Common has already mastered. Each coliving space comes stocked with the essentials, in bulk, and they take care of the refills too, so you never really have to worry about being stuck in a “situation” ever again.
Swap: single use plastic bags for reusable storage solutions
This swap is another no-brainer. Bid farewell to your flimsy sandwich bags in favor of something you can use again and again. These silicone bags from Stasher work just as well as your trusted name-brand baggies with the benefit of a much, much longer lifespan. Just wash them with the rest of your dishes, and to dry, prop the opening on top of a glass or mason jar to make sure the inside dries out fully. These work just as well in the freezer as they do on-the-go, too.
In the bathroom
Swap: Plastic bottles for plastic-free options
This switch is another one that lets you use all of the products you love while making just a touch less waste. Let’s start with the most simple of swaps: replacing your body wash for a bar of soap! You can find shampoo bars, too, from Brooklyn-based brand Public Goods, whose bar comes in a 100% recyclable cardboard box.
Also, did you know that plastic-free mouthwash exists? Neither did we, not until we saw these tablets from Humankind that come in a reusable glass + silicone jar. The brand also makes an effective aluminum-free deodorant that comes with an aesthetically pleasing silicone case and easy-to-replace cardboard refills.
Swap: Trash bags for compostable bags
This swap is so functional, it’s a wonder everyone hasn’t done it already. Just replace your plastic trash bags with compostable bags instead. These liners were made for compost bins, but they work just as well as liners for the bins around your house, like in the bathroom, bedroom and more. They’ll naturally decompose, so you’ll feel much better knowing you’re sending just a little less plastic to landfills.
In the rest of your apartment
Swap: conventional light bulbs for LEDs
This one is another switch that will take you ten minutes, max. On average, lights account for about 15% of the energy consumption in a single household. Turning off your lights when you’re not in the room is a great place to start cutting back, but swapping out your bulbs with LED ones can actually reduce energy usage up to 80%, plus they can last up to 25 times as long! This means you’ll be buying fewer bulbs and paying less for electricity consumption of the daily.
Swap: Sheer curtains for blinds
Okay, hear us out with this one – conventional blinds might not be the most aesthetically appealing decor choice, but from a functional perspective they do the most to keep your place cool in the summer months. Sheer panels are so pretty, but all of that direct light you’re getting during the day can turn your apartment into a bonafide incubator, meaning you probably need to run your A/C all day to keep the temp bearable.
Installing slotted blinds gives you the best of both worlds – you can control the amount of sunlight you’re getting, which means you can shut it out when the temperature starts to rise, and you can control how much you’re letting in for an optimal amount of vitamin D. Trust us when we say this is a game changer in the hot summer months. It means you’ll be consuming much less energy keeping your room cool, and you’ll be saving on those sky-high summer electricity bills too.
If you’re not willing to compromise the aesthetic of your window treatments, then blackout curtains are the way to go. By all means, keep your sheer panels to add texture and levels of interest when the curtains are drawn, but when you’re ready to shut out the light, you can pull the blackout curtains closed.
We hope at least one of these tips helps make your journey towards a more sustainable apartment living just a little bit smoother.