Renters Can Go Green, Too
Millions of people talk about the importance of “going green” in an effort to improve our planet and ensure the future of its inhabitants. Sometimes it seems like we are inundated by endless news reports advising us how to make positive everyday changes in our lives: solar panels, low-flow toilets, water-efficient showerheads, and tankless water heaters.
These suggestions are excellent for homeowners — but what about the average renter? What kinds of things can you do when you don’t want to spend your own money to make big changes to someone else’s property?
Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t make your new living space green. Whether you want to lessen your carbon footprint or just want to be a good steward of the Earth, practicing green alternatives is easier than you might think.
There are several items to keep in mind when searching for your next rental property that can bring you a few steps closer to sustainability.
Location, Location, Location
Ideally, you want to find a rental that is within walking or biking distance to your daily activities. A place close to mass transit is also a great option so you don’t have to rely on a gas-guzzling car to get to work. When searching for your next home, check out greener communities filled with parks, restaurants, and businesses so you can work and play without the need to use too much fuel. Look for a farmer’s market or nearby grocer so you can support local farmers and eat fresh.
Decorating Your New Home
It’s exciting to move into a new environment as it gives you a chance to redecorate. Check out your local antique store, flea market, or Craigslist when furnishing your new space instead of heading to the furniture store. Not only will you save money buying used furniture, but you just might keep a perfectly good item from crowding the landfill. And who knows, you may even find a special, quality piece that will become a family heirloom someday.
If the landlord is agreeable, paint your walls using low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This will help prevent unnecessary and often harmful toxins into your new environment while freshening up your new home.
If you enjoy houseplants or growing your own herbs, be sure to look for a rental with plenty of light so you can improve air quality with plants and produce your own foods.
As a renter, you probably won’t want to spring for a new, more efficient dishwasher, washing machine, or even a low-flow toilet, but you can make simple changes to your everyday habits to make a larger environmental impact. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests you only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full to avoid waste. And of course, you could keep your toilet flushing to a minimum, whenever possible.
If you are living in an older property with outdated toilets, faucets, and showerheads, boost your water efficiency by spending less time in the shower and turning off the water when you brush your teeth. According to the EPA, it takes about 70 gallons of water to fill the bathtub but a five-minute shower could save 10 to 25 gallons of precious water. This not only helps the environment, but it helps saves you money.
Older apartments also tend to be poorly insulated. Adding economical weather stripping to doors and windows and plastic glazing to windows (if the landlord allows it) will help keep the space a comfortable temperature. Of course, simple shades and blinds can also help control the temperature in your new home.
Another easy change that will not only help the environment and your budget is changing the light bulbs in the space. Replace regular bulbs with incandescent lights or compact fluorescents, or even LEDs. While they often cost more to purchase, they ultimately save energy and you can even take them when you leave.