Sustainable living is a lifestyle that aims to reduce our environmental impact and protect the planet for future generations. It involves making choices that conserve natural resources, minimize waste, and reduce pollution. While sustainable living can be challenging for everyone, it can be especially difficult for renters.
Renters often have less control over their living environment than homeowners, meaning that 34% of the US population may be limited by the policies of their landlords. However, there are still many things that renters can do to live more sustainably.
Benefits of Sustainable Living for Renters
- Save money: Sustainable living practices can help you to save money on your energy and water bills.
- Reduce your environmental impact: By living more sustainably, you can help to reduce your impact on the environment and protect the planet for future generations.
- Improve your health: Sustainable living practices such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can improve your physical and mental health.
- Feel good: Knowing that you are doing your part to protect the environment can give you a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Every little bit helps, start implementing these sustainable living hacks today!
Energy Conservation Tips
Energy consumption is one of the biggest areas where renters can make a difference. Here are some tips for reducing your energy use:
Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when turned off, many electronics continue to use power. Standby power, often referred to as "vampire power," is responsible for around 10 percent of residential power usage and costs consumers billions annually. Power strips are an easy way to deactivate multiple devices simultaneously.
Turn off lights when you leave a room. This is a simple way to save energy, but it is important to remember to do it consistently. If you have an electric rate of 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, then you can save about 1.2 cents when you turn off a light bulb per hour. Switch to LEDs. LEDs are the most efficient light source available, converting up to 95% of the energy they use into light. In contrast, incandescent bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat, and CFLs waste around 80%. This means that LEDs use significantly less electricity than other light sources to produce the same amount of light. In addition to being more efficient, LEDs also last much longer than other light bulbs. A typical LED bulb can last up to 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb and 3 times longer than a CFL. This means that you won't have to replace your LED bulbs as often, saving you even more money in the long run.
Wash clothes in cold water. Heating water constitutes 90% of a washing machine's energy consumption. Washing your clothes in cold water can help you to save energy and money.
Air-dry clothes whenever possible. Clothes dryers are one of the most energy-intensive appliances in the home. Air-drying your clothes whenever possible can help you to save energy and money.
Setback temperature control. Space heating and cooling accounts for over 50% of the energy use in a building, consider using temperature setback strategies to save energy when you’re not home! Thermal curtains can help regulate indoor temperatures by providing insulation, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling.
Zero Waste Living
Reducing waste is another important area for sustainable living. Here are some tips for reducing your waste:
Practice mindful consumption. The best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place. This means bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping, avoiding single-use plastics, composting food scraps, and buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
Recycle and compost everything you can. Recycling and composting are great ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Visit our Zero Waste Kitchen for tips on composting and gardening!
Thrift before you toss. Take unwanted items to thrift stores or donation centers instead of throwing them away. This helps to keep items out of landfills and reduces carbon and chemical pollution caused by clothing production. Thrifting can help replace rare items no longer in production, and gives them a second life. By buying secondhand, shoppers can save nearly $150 a month, or $1,760 a year, on average.
Transportation is another important area for sustainable living. Here are some tips for reducing your transportation emissions:
Walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever possible. This is the most sustainable way to travel. Driving your car 20,800 miles a year emits 23,600 lbs of CO2.
Carpool or vanpool with friends or coworkers. This is a great way to reduce your transportation emissions and save money on gas. If the average commuting vehicle carried one additional person, the US could save 33 million gallons of gas each day.
Use fuel-efficient driving techniques. You can improve the fuel economy of your vehicle by 15%–30% at highway speeds and 10%–40% in stop-and-go traffic by using techniques such as gently accelerating and braking, and reading the road ahead.
Avoid idling your car. Idling wastes gas and pollutes the air. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you'll prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released.
Food production has a significant environmental impact. Here are some tips for reducing your food footprint:
Eat less meat and more plant-based foods. Livestock production alone is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transportation sector. Eating less meat and more plant-based foods can help you to reduce your environmental impact.
Buy local and seasonal produce. This helps to reduce the environmental impact of transportation and packaging. On average, meals in the US travel about 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Long-distance transport of food is considered to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Avoid processed foods. Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are often high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt, and tend to be packaged in wasteful materials. UPF production also contributes to land degradation, the use of pesticides and “eutrophication”, an excess of nutrient run-off from agricultural land into water bodies, killing lake, river, and ocean life, as seen with red tide.
Grow your own food. Herbs are easy to grow indoors or out, and growing your own will reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating the transport needs. You can also use an Aerogarden to grow food indoors. Aerogardens are hydroponic systems that use water and nutrients instead of soil to grow plants.
By implementing even a few of the tips above, renters can make a big difference for the environment. Sustainable living is not only good for the planet, but it can also save renters money and improve their health and well-being.
Sustainable living is a journey, not a destination. Every little bit helps, so don't be afraid to start small. By making small changes to your everyday life, you can make a big difference for the environment.
Ready to take your sustainable living journey to the next level? Discover 14 easy and impactful ways to enhance your eco-conscious lifestyle in 2023.
Read more about living sustainably on our blog.