making the earth greener one tiny baby at a time

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Eco-Friendly Renter

My friend Adriana made an excellent point in her response to my last post.  You have far less options for living earth-friendly when you are renting or living in an apartment.  You are at the mercy of what the building owners decide is appropriate for you building.  We are apartment-dwellers and understand this all to well.  We enter the elevators and are bombarded by the smell of harsh cleaners, we have to use wasteful, old appliances, and there is the most annoying scent dispenser right outside out door that every half-hour sends a synthetic, powdery smell into the air.

So what do we do when we want to live as gently as possible, but are thwarted by where we have to live?!?!

Let's break it down:
We know what we do have control of:  In our own apartments we can use gentle, plant-based cleaners; separate and recycle everything that your building's waste management will take; wash our clothes with cold water and use a drying rack to dry; use power-strips and unplug or turn off all electronics when not in use; take shorter showers and don't always wait for the water to get hot-hot-hot before we use it.

And we know what we don't have control of:  If the building chooses to recycle or compost; the types and conditions of appliances; the kinds of cleaners and building materials used.

If you live in LA and your building doesn't recycle, let your building manager know that it is now COMPLETELY FREE to get pick up for recyclables.  Even offer to make the call and set up the appointment if they can't seem to be bothered.  Here's the website to get you started:

Do you want to compost?  You can do it in your apartment!  Us LA-ers are fortunate that most of us have balconies or porches.  We purchased a compact composter and it lives on our tiny balcony taking up only about 2'x2' of space.  The key to getting food to compost in a tiny composter is....WORMS!!!!  These little beasts will help you go through trash 80% faster than just letting it sit in a composter.  Here is where we got our worm factory:

You can buy worms by the pound at many farmer's markets or go to the following website:
This is what we have on our balcony

If you don't have ANY outdoor space at all, the worm factory can live in doors.  But to be completely honest, there is no way I would ever do this.  When my friend Katie found out I had a worm factory, she said the following to me:
"My sister has one of those...It's the closest thing I've ever seen to a real-life horror movie."

If you want the building management to consider making some green changes in your building.  I think it's best to educate and request all at the same time.  Make a letter that states how you would love them to consider using greener cleaners, most of which can be found at inexpensive prices, and include in your letter resources where they can find these.  You might also mention that a building that prioritizes being green may lure in a better clientele!  And cutting down on energy costs will help the bottom line.

Another option...

Until we all the the money or ability to own our own home, with which we can live as green as possible, maybe let's look at apartment living as a way to share our views and educate our neighbors (without being that person who lectures so much that people avoid you when they see you in the laundry room).

totally depressing environmental fact:
the number one cause of landfill waste is fast-food containers...check this out....

totally inspiring environmental tip:
when you compost, you are exposing your food scraps to air, which help the food biodegrade without any atmosphere-hurting methane!!


  1. Rebecca, I'm curious what you do with your compost once it's...done composting?

  2. What are your thoughts on sink garbage disposals? Are they eco-friendly?

  3. Good, compost in house, not many people do it.