You’ve just moved to your new apartment in a new city, and now is your chance to get a fresh start! You’ve always been interested in improving your sustainable life, and now that you’re out of college and on your own, you have a chance to do exactly that. However, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Especially for those of us living in apartments, sustainability can be a fleeting and vague concept: it’s easy to recycle or compost — when those services are available — but taking individual and proactive steps are harder than they look.
Here are a couple of easy ideas for getting started on your new sustainable life.
While you will obviously be throwing all your junk mail in your recycling bin, unsubscribing from
publications and junk mail that you never read helps on several fronts. First, you’ll be able to keep your
new place clean — much more so that when your floor and tables are littered with envelopes and
circulars. You’ll also reduce the amount of recycling you’re contributing, as the process of recycling itself
takes time and energy, and produces some waste.
Most importantly, you’ll be reducing the waste produced from printing and manufacturing in the first
place. Your contribution alone won’t make a difference, but if a thousand others also decide to
unsubscribe, suddenly you’re getting somewhere. Waste in America is at an epidemic level, and cutting
out the stuff you don’t even use should be the first step.
To note: when moving to a new apartment or house, you’ll often continue receiving mail for the previous
renter. Make sure to cancel those as well, and modify your mailing address when you move.
Houseplants are a great addition to any new house or apartment, and they do a lot for you. They can tie a room together, improving a plain table or corner. But they also filter your air, removing excess carbon dioxide and producing breathable air. They can also filter poor air quality and will help you reduce some contributions to your carbon footprint. Get a few plants — cacti, in particular, are very efficient — and you’ll be breathing fresher in no time.
While it may seem momentarily inconvenient when you’re about to make toast, leaving your appliances unplugged saves a ton of power in the long run. And while it might not make a tremendous amount of difference in your electricity bill, unplugging your unused appliances — and getting rid of the ones you never use — reduces the overall electricity production of your household and improves your sustainable life. Keep in mind that electrical production typically requires burning fossil fuels and that keeping yours as low as possible should be a priority.
Likewise, turning the lights off when you are not in a room can do a world of good for your footprint and
your bills. In particular, leaving on burglar lights — or any other lights while you are away — will cost a
fortune and lead to a tremendous amount of waste. Occasionally burning candles or turning off lights
completely — during a movie or gaming session, for instance — can also help.
Water waste within the U.S. is a huge problem, especially knowing that other countries struggle to find clean water. Your toilet wastes several gallons of water every time it is flushed, which is far more than necessary.
Anybody who’s ever taken off the tank lid understands that the flush mechanism triggers when the water reaches a certain level in the tank. To save some water every flush, you can keep a water bottle or water-filled jar in the tank, taking up space and reducing the water used with each flush.
A Sustainable Future
Moving to a new place — whether it’s a new house, a new city, or a new country — lets you start fresh
and break the tired old routines of your past life. Sustainability is an ideal many Americans wish to live,
but find difficult to implement in their everyday life. Following this list is a great way to start reducing
your daily household waste, and get on track for a greener and more sustainable life!
Emily is a sustainability and eco-friendly living blogger.