Sustainable living has many benefits. Eco-friendly homes have lower levels of chemicals and harmful gases that can affect indoor air quality and be detrimental to your health. Making conscious choices on what you buy and bring into your home can help you reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint, and the overall effect can save you money by lowering your utility bills and reducing your need to buy “things.”
If you’re on a budget, some of the larger sustainable improvements and renovations including switching to solar power or replacing your appliances or HVAC system with the latest EnergyStar certified versions may be out of reach. Luckily, there are many smaller and more affordable home improvements you can make to transition your living spaces towards sustainable living. The best part is, you don’t have to own your home to make the following upgrades. Even renters can make the following changes to do their part towards an earth-friendlier existence without having to worry about losing their security deposit when they move out.
Involve Your Kids in the Project
Don’t forget to involve your kids, regardless of age, in your home projects. Kids should learn the benefits of becoming earth stewards from an early age. It’s a lesson that will serve them (and the world) well in the long run. Besides asking them to participate in sustainability projects, explain why the family is pursuing them and what impacts they will have on the environment.
A family that greenifies together stays together. Some ways you can involve kids in home sustainability projects include the following:
- Teaching them about recycling by helping them sort waste into the appropriate recycling bin when possible. You can also educate them about trash ending up in landfills and chemicals from waste leaching into our drinking water, and how recycling helps.
- Asking them to care for household plants by watering them and explaining the importance of plants and trees to the ecosystem. Better yet, grow herbs and smaller vegetables indoors in pots so they can learn where their food comes from.
- Recruiting them to find all of the single- and one-use plastics in your home including toys, containers, and bags for removal while explaining to them why plastic is harmful to the earth.
Reduce Your Energy Consumption
You may not be able to convert your home’s heating to geothermal or add solar panels when you rent, but there are many apartment-friendly ways you can reduce your energy usage. Switch your light bulbs with longer-lasting, eco-friendly LED bulbs. Compared to traditional light bulbs, LED bulbs last up to 25 years, reducing the amount of waste in landfills. They also use up to 80% less electricity to light a room than a regular light bulb.
Other ways to reduce your energy consumption is by being more mindful of how long your devices, such as phones, laptops, and tablets, are plugged in. Get into the habit of unplugging devices when they are not charging to avoid the constant drain of energy when your chargers are plugged in.
Adding power strips with an “on and off” switch that can be easily switched off when not in use may be the easiest way to manage unnecessary energy drain. On many power strips, the power switch comes outfitted with a light that shows when the strip is “on.” Teach your youngest kids to switch off the power strip when they notice it’s not in use.
Declutter Your Home and Your Life
Go through each room in your home and decide which furnishings and objects you no longer use. These can then be donated or given away to someone else who may have a use. A decluttered home collects less dust This dust can lead to allergies and respiratory problems. In addition, a decluttered home is easier to keep clean.
Start by removing the items that could affect air quality. Home fragrance products such as diffusers, sprays, and candles made with artificial ingredients contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release into the air. Store-bought cleaners are also harmful and can be replaced with more natural cleaners from your health food store or kitchen cabinets. Vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon are just a few natural items you can use to clean with instead of harmful commercial products.
You should also consider donating plastic products. Not all plastics can be recycled, and they can last forever. Plastics also make their way into the environment, harming and killing wildlife. Some plastics even leach dangerous chemicals that can negatively affect your health.
To reduce your contribution to the plastic problem, start with your kitchen. You can swap out plastic Tupperware for glass storage containers. Recycle plastic shopping bags and instead use reusable canvas bags. Buy metal water bottles you can refill and forego store-bought water bottles and plastic refillable ones.
Freshen Up Your Space Using Eco-Friendly Paint
Paint is one of the most effective ways to give a home a facelift, but paint can also be toxic. Fortunately, many paint manufacturers now have natural formulations that are water-based and contain clay or milk proteins in order to be safer indoors. Opt for water-based paints and paint your room early on a sunny day when you can leave all doors and windows open to air the room out.
Updating Your Home Sustainably Starts With Small Steps
Whether you’re starting your sustainable living practices while you rent, or you’ve just purchased your first sustainable home and you’re on a tight budget, these small steps are a good start on your path to living a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
Author bio: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but environment/sustainability topics hold a special place in his heart. Luke is passionate about doing everything he can to to spread an environmentally friendly message to readers. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.