Creating a positive environmental impact can start right from your home. Many apartment owners and residents often use products that are both wasteful and toxic. Therefore, eco-friendly apartment living can start with as little as being mindful of the kind of cleaning products, furniture, and sustainability of the items you use.
You don't need greenhouses or solar panels for sustainable living. You can take earth-conscious steps towards making your apartment an eco-friendly zone. In this article, we will explore the benefits of eco-friendly apartment living as well as tips and ideas that will help you create an eco-friendly apartment.
Several benefits come with sustainable apartment living. Beyond saving the planet, living sustainably can save money and help you live healthier and happier:
What’s better than saving money while protecting your environment? A sustainable lifestyle means you can conserve energy by reducing electricity use, conserving water, and using recycled products. You could even grow your own food. Reducing energy consumption means you spend less on basic amenities while living in an environmentally friendly apartment.
According to research, exposure to toxic gas can be harmful to our health and increase the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases1. An eco-friendly lifestyle is a great way to improve your health and become a happier version of yourself.
Using non-toxic products will reduce air pollution and ensure you are breathing in the fresh air. Also, consuming locally grown organic foods makes you stronger and promotes good health.
Sustainable products are not only eco-friendly but are also durable. For example, using bamboo furniture instead of hardwood comes with a few advantages. Bamboo is a sustainable renewable resource and can last for a long time. Bamboo grows much faster and is stronger than hardwood2. It is also easy to maintain and doesn't require coating or painting.
You can use other products crafted from sustainable materials like organic cotton and wool around your apartment. Also, reusing sustainable products is more beneficial to the environment.
Quick links to our best eco-friendly apartment living ideas:
There are many ways to save energy usage in your apartment building. Lighting is one thing that steadily consumes energy. Make sure you switch off all the lights when they are not in use. Consider using more natural lighting in your apartment space.
You can also use cost-effective light bulbs. Instead of the standard halogen bulbs, consider switching to LEDs. These light bulbs are eco-friendly and energy-efficient. They also have a longer lifespan and can save you money on your electric bill. If you have the option, choose a renewable energy provider.
Read More: 17 Ways to Save Electricity at Home.
Some people believe that water is an unlimited resource. However, this is quite the opposite.
Although the earth is made up of about 70% of water, there is a shortage of clean water. You can conserve water by using water wisely. Avoid running water when not in use, take shorter showers, and fix broken pipes to avoid water waste. Also, use showerheads and washing machines that are water efficient.
It is always a great idea to conserve as much water as possible. Conserving water protects our ecosystem and can also save you money spent on water bills every year.
Read More: How to Reduce Water Waste at Home.
One way to create an eco-friendly apartment is to use green cleaning products. Some cleaning products contain harmful chemicals to our health and can contribute to water and air pollution.
Studies reveal the link between some chemicals used in cleaning products and health complications3 like cancer, congenital disabilities, and infertility. Consider choosing eco-friendly cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Using green cleaning products protects the environment while protecting your health.
One way to live in an apartment that saves the planet is to swap some of your appliances for planet-friendly alternatives. Appliances like fridges and air conditioners tend to use up more energy.
When buying electrical appliances, check for an energy star rating. This will tell you how much energy you can save with those appliances. You want to make sure you purchase appliances that are the most power-efficient. You will not only be protecting the environment but will save up on billing costs.
Consider switching out hardwood for other sustainable materials when picking out furnishings for your apartment. Using hardwood is harmful for various reasons; firstly, the chemicals used in coating wood contain harmful VOCs. Also, the deforestation of these trees poses another environmental problem.
Instead, you can go for kitchen cabinets, furniture, walls, and counters made using sustainable materials like bamboo, glass, metal, or stone. They are also easy to maintain.
You can also grab a book on living sustainably for yourself and your eco-friendly coffee table.
Most standard synthetic products release VOC (volatile organic compounds) that build up even more in a small space. These chemicals are toxic and can be harmful to our health. On the other hand, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Studies show that plants can absorb harmful chemicals and give off harmless byproducts.
Consider adding some plants, like a wall herb garden, to different rooms in your apartment.
Plants bring clean air and are environmentally friendly. They also add some color to your house and are a cheaper option than HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate absorbing).
When picking out furniture for your apartment, look out for furniture that is FSC-certified. The FSC (First Stewardship Council) has a set of principles that ensure maximum transparency and responsibility.
They regulate the use of pesticides and other illegal chemicals. Buying FSC-certified furniture means sustainably sourcing the wood and harvesting it responsibly. There are also alternative furniture options like soy-based foams and recycled textiles.
Elsewhere in the furniture world, there are loads of reasons to buy second-hand. Whether you’re looking for a bargain or an antique centerpiece, every furniture item you buy second-hand prevents trees from being felled and saves energy.
It’s easy to overlook floor coverings, but some floor coverings, like carpets, emit dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can sometimes be odorless. Fillers made with plastics and synthetic rubbers used in making carpets contain VOCs that can affect our respiratory system. Also, treatments and glues used in carpets contain toxic chemicals.
Instead of synthetic carpets, go for floor coverings like rugs made with natural materials like organic cotton, seagrass, jute, and wool. The best part about using rugs made with natural materials is that they are washable. You can easily put them in a washing machine and dry them out. Also, you can go for tiles made with natural stones.
Low VOC paints contain less volatile organic compounds. These compounds contribute to pollution and reduce indoor air quality. Low VOC paints dry out much faster and has rougher surfaces. If you are moving into a new apartment, you could request from the landlord that the walls are painted with low VOC paint, or you could wait for a few days for the paint to completely dry out before moving in.
To improve indoor air quality and make your apartment eco-friendly, make it a habit to ventilate your apartment. Open the windows and doors to allow toxins and chemicals to go out of your house and allow fresh air to come in. This is also an excellent way to promote natural lighting. It also uses less power and can help you save on the air conditioning bill.
A simple and natural way to cool down a hot room is to use window treatments and curtains.
Window treatments provide shade against the sun, especially during summer, and trap heat during winter. Also, window treatments add a good touch of design to your apartment building.
Curtains also help to reduce the heat transferred by the window. Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%4.
One way to live in an apartment that is eco-friendly is to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle. Adopt the zero-waste lifestyle by reusing items, reducing consumption, and recycling materials. If you live in an eco-friendly apartment community, you might have a recycling facility close to your apartment, making it easy to drop off your recyclables. But if you don't live in apartment buildings that come with recycling facilities, it can get a tad difficult.
However, you can still maintain a sustainable lifestyle. We will look at a few tips that will help you:
When replacing items in your apartment in plastic bottles or wasteful packaging, stop for a moment and consider zero-waste alternatives to the mass-produced items on supermarket shelves.
There are loads of amazing products out there that will help you reduce waste around the home, and in turn, each one helps improve the eco-creds of your apartment and prevent another plastic bottle made in the first place. Or an environmentally unfriendly manufacturing process from being required.
You don't have to venture too far either, as there are a bunch of zero-waste stores online that'll ship essentials to you packaged without the waste. Some of our favorite items are:
All those plastic bottles of liquid laundry detergent all require energy to manufacture and recycle. Rather than buying your laundry detergent in a squeezy plastic bottle, browse our list of the best zero-waste dish soap bars. In solid form, just as sudsy, wrapped in recycled packaging, you’ll be won over.
Manufacturers often bleach standard loo paper to make it look lovely and white, and it’s made from trees. Whereas they grow back, today you can pick up a range of more sustainable, eco-friendly toilet papers, many made from bamboo and using more sustainable processes. Look out for brands that ship in bulk, saving travel miles and the hassle of multiple supermarket trips.
Bidet converter kits easily plump into your existing toilet plumbing and provide a gentle stream of water for your bathroom washing needs. Converts swear by their increased cleaning, hygiene, and conveniences. Even better, you may never again need another toilet roll! Check out the best bidet converter kits here.
Mainly for the ladies but by no means exclusively, we have a list of the best zero-waste makeup brands for everything from tins and jars of creams, foundations, and more to sustainably packaged colors and tints.
You may or may not realize that most tea bags contain plastic. Swap these out for reusable tea bags or strainers, and not only will less energy be consumed to make your bags, but you’ll have a little less plastic in your life.
Tossing food waste into a garbage bin might seem like nothing, but food waste sent to landfills can seriously impact climate change. When food waste is trapped in a landfill without air, it releases a gas called methane. Methane is a potent gas that contributes significantly to global warming. It also causes difficulty in breathing.
One way to avoid this is to compost your food waste. Composting is a process of naturally recycling organic materials like leaves and food scraps into decomposed matter that enriches the soil. Composting simply speeds up the process of decomposition by creating the ideal environment for microorganisms to feed on them.
There are various ways to compost in your apartment. Some of them include:
Creating an eco-friendly apartment has immense benefits.
Practice the tips mentioned above and create an eco-friendly apartment. Not only will you save money, but you will be doing your part in saving our planet.
Ghorani-Azam, A., Riahi-Zanjani, B., & Balali-Mood, M. (2016). Effects of air pollution on human health and practical measures for prevention in Iran. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 21, 65.
Pannipa Chaowana (2013 January) Bamboo: An Alternative Raw Material for Wood and Wood-Based Composites Journal of Materials Science Research 2(2)
Alexandra Scranton ( 2011 November) DIRTY SECRETS: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? Women’s voices for the earth.
Chris Gunn (n.d.) Energy Efficient Window Attachments. Energy.gov.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.