Land. Huge gardens. Chickens, pigs and goats. A homestead in the country. These are the things that come to mind when “green living” is mentioned. These are also things that are far outside my reality right now. Like many I find myself living in an apartment in the middle of a bustling city. It’s hardly the ideal you may think of when you think “green living” or “sustainable living” yet it’s my reality and I know I’m not alone in this. Green living doesn’t require you to have a homestead. City dwellers can live just as greenly as those in the country, perhaps even more so. So to my fellow apartment dwellers, take heart! You can live a green life in your apartment in the middle of your city. I’ve got 12 tips for green apartment living ready to help you live a greener, more sustainable city life.
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1 | Ditch the Car
Cars, no matter what they run on are costly to own, operate, and create. Even electric vehicles are not as kind to the environment as is ideal. The metals and elements required for batteries and other components often travels around the world and results in mining operations and social injustice in areas that provide the raw goods. Conventional vehicles pollute at every use. Going car-free, however, is one of the most Eco-friendly choices you can make if you are lucky enough to live somewhere with good public transport.
2 | Reduce Your Utility Usage
Apartment living gives you the opportunity to reduce your utility usage. Often apartments are much smaller and require much less heating and cooling than their stand-alone home equivalents. Yet, you can increase your utility savings and reduce your energy consumption even more! How? Try following these tips and see how much you can save on your utility bills next month:
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs.
- Set your thermostat lower in the winter, and higher in the summer.
- Use curtains to keep in warmth in the winter, and keep out the hot sun in the summer.
- Open your windows and use fans to reduce cooling costs in the summer.
3 | Buy Locally
Community gardens and farmers markets are becoming more popular and accessible in urban areas. Discover one near you and support local agriculture! Your produce will be fresher, and you will be ensuring your community benefits directly from the money you spend.
Looking for a community garden near you? Find one here.
Looking for a farmer’s market? Here you go!
4 | Support Local Initiatives
From planting more trees to preserving green spaces, to plastic bag bans, there are lots of ways you can get involved in making your city a greener place for all citizens. Take part in local activism, or at the very least, vote in all local elections! Grassroots change can start with you!
5 | Support Your Local Parks
Green space is hard to come by in most cities, parks provide a green oasis in the concrete jungle, yet they can’t do it alone! Visit your local parks, donate time or money if you can to help ensure they have what they need to continue providing your city the many benefits that come from having a little bit of nature.
6 | Ditch the Plastic Bags
Walking a mile or two to the nearest grocery store and back with your groceries is a much easier experience when you are not worrying your paper-thin, half-filled plastic bags will rip on the way home. Have you ever noticed how much more stuff you can fit in a reusable bag? Or how easy it is to use a backpack or trolley instead to get your new found belongings home? Plastic bags are NOT ideal for carting things long distances by hand. So switch to a reusable option! Your hands and the Earth will thank you.
7 | Sustainable Home Furnishings
One of the perks of city living is having easy access to well…everything! So the next time you need to replace or get a new piece of home furnishings, look for a sustainable option. It could be anything from being made with recyclable or sustainable materials such as bamboo or reclaimed wood, to buying second hand or used furnishings. These options can be cheaper on the wallet and help to minimize waste.
8 | Green Your Routines
Apartment living is the perfect way to focus on your routines and how you can make them greener. Start with your cleaning supplies and go from there. Are there more sustainable and Eco-friendly options you could choose to clean with? Could you choose Eco-friendly cleaners? Or ditch the paper towels for cloth? What about your personal care routine? Could that feature more sustainable and Eco-friendly products?
9 | Consider Minimalism
Let’s be real, apartments have limited space, especially when it comes to storage! To make the most of it, consider embracing minimalism or bringing some minimalism practices into your life. Reduce the clutter, and recycle, re-purpose, sell, trade, or donate things you no longer want or need. Embrace living with only things that bring you joy and that you really need. Going for a fully minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but everyone can be more mindful and intentional about what things they buy and keep around.
10 | Connect with Others
You aren’t alone green apartment dwellers! There are many out there just like you. It can feel like you are sometimes, but try to connect with others either in real life or online. Share tips and learn how you can live more greenly. We all benefit when we share information and support!
11 | Grow a Balcony or Container Garden
Or maybe just some herbs on your counter-top. Just because you don’t have a large yard or land doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own fruits, veggies, and herbs. You’d be surprised what you can grow in a container! I’d recommend starting with herbs, they are endlessly useful in your kitchen as well as for health, and are also easy to grown. It doesn’t stop there! Other good things to grow in containers include tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, and garlic! You can also experiment in growing plants from kitchen scraps! This works great with things like scallions, and lettuce.
Want more ideas? Check out my Organic Gardening Pinterest board! Tips for gardens of all kinds, large and small!
12 | Do What You Can, With What You Have
Ultimately, you can only do what you can with what you have. This means accepting the limitations of what you are able to do. Chickens might not be something you can do in your living situation right now, but what if you found a local CSA, farmer’s market, or private chicken enthusiast to buy your eggs from instead? There are always alternatives. Sometimes you may have to get creative, but you can still live more greenly in your apartment. Do the best you can with what you have. Every small step matters.