For the Apartment Dweller: How to Live Sustainably In 5 Steps

Apartment overlooking the Thames
Courtesy Robbie Duncan | Unsplash

From buying furniture made from recycled materials to conserving water, here’s your complete guide on how to live sustainably in an apartment.

When it comes to living sustainably, one of the easiest and most impactful places you can start is your home. And if you care about the planet, it’s highly likely you’ve already incorporated eco-friendly practices into your day-to-day life, from adding secondhand clothes to your wardrobe to eating plant-based foods. But there are many other simple swaps you can make around the house that are gentler on the planet—even if you live in an apartment.

How to live sustainably in an apartment

Exorbitant home prices coupled with low inventories have put homeownership out of reach for many Americans, leading many to lease spaces in condos and apartments. In 2019, about 36 percent of the 122.8 million U.S. households were renters, according to the Census Bureau. 

Apartment living certainly has its perks: renters don’t have to pay maintenance fees or repair bills. They also don’t have to pay property taxes. Plus, depending on the apartment complex they choose, renters have luxurious amenities at no additional cost, such as a pool, spa, and gym.

Of course, renting does have its drawbacks. Namely that renters are unable to make major changes to their dwelling—so having solar panels or green roofs installed is out of the question. And a lack of yard space means you won’t be able to install that greenhouse or garden you’ve always wanted. Fret not! For the eco-conscious renter, there are still a number of ways that you can personalize your space with sustainable upgrades, from eco-friendly furniture to upgraded window treatments. 

Here’s how to make your apartment more sustainable

Ready to make your rental more sustainable? Here’s how.

kitchen
Courtesy Ionut Vlad | Unsplash

1. Opt for energy efficiency

Renters may be unable to install energy-efficient windows, but there are still sustainable swaps you can make to make your space more energy-efficient—saving you money and reducing your environmental footprint in the process. Eliminate energy loss by resealing windows with caulk or opt for upgraded window treatments like the Moondream Soundproof Curtain. Made from recycled cotton, the blackout curtains insulate your home against heat, cold, and light. They also block out noise up to -7 decibels.

Ready for more energy-efficiency tips? Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs (they can save you about $225 in energy costs each year!) and unplug your appliances when you’re not using them. 

bedroom
Courtesy Minh Pham | Unsplash

2. Incorporate eco-friendly practices

For a more planet-friendly apartment, incorporate sustainable practices into your life, such as recycling, composting, and thrifting. Made from cork and recycled plastic, the odorless Biovessel Living Composter turns food scraps into fertilizer, which can be used to feed potted plants around the home. The Lomi Food & Waste Composter is another great option. Made from durable recycled plastics, it features three different settings that break down food waste and bioplastics. 

And you don’t need a large backyard to grow your own food! For a more sustainable food option, you can grow your own nutritious veggies from the comfort of your apartment. (Check out our guide to growing food at home, even if you have a small space.)

Sofa
Courtesy Sabai

3. Shop sustainably 

From your furniture to your groceries and your bathroom essentials, shopping sustainably can help lessen your impact on the planet. For the bedroom, get a good night’s rest on a sustainable mattress—apartment or not, we all spend a third of our lives in bed!

And for sustainable furniture—including sectionals, sofas, tables, and more—shop Sabai. Made in the U.S. with recycled and natural materials, the company’s pieces are affordable and easy to assemble. For an even more sustainable option, shop the company’s Revive collection, which features refurbished furniture at a discount.

bathroom
Courtesy Chastity Cortijo | Unsplash

4. Conserve water

Did you know that the average showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, according to the Environmental Protection Agency? Live alone? Saving water by showering together may be out of the question. But you can still conserve water by reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower. 

You can also install a low-flow shower head to reduce your water use (just make sure you change it back to the old one when you move!). Hai’s Smart Showerhead is a great option because it allows you to track your water usage and your environmental impact over time via an app.

Breakfast sweet potatoes
Courtesy Vegan Richa

5. Go plant-based

In addition to its ethical implications, factory farming is a doozy on the planet—contributing to land and water degradation, pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, just to name a few. Whether you decide to just omit beef or chicken from your diet, go vegetarian, or go completely plant-based, you can significantly lessen the impact that your food choices have on the planet. So stock your apartment fridge with the good stuff. Not sure what to try? Try whipping up big-batch vegan recipes that will leave you with ample leftovers you can nosh on throughout the week.

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