UPDATE: We moved from the apartment I describe below to our current apartment in June of 2010.
Oh, to be green. Living in an apartment seems make the most common ideas impossible. I try to remember that we are already practicing communal living to a certain extent; that counts!
I do have to let go of the following common eco-suggestions for the time being:
Grow my own food and compost pile While I have taken over the patch of bare earth adjoining our patio for flowers, I do not grow food for several reasons. I have come across a lot of undesirable, unnatural material while digging, and fear for the condition of the soil. We also have animal visitors, both wild and domestic. For this reason also I haven’t started a compost pile, and I won’t invest in a closed compost bin just yet. Also, I have a shady garden, not great for growing food.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances We rent and so live with the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher and air conditioners that were here before us. I’m certain the landlord isn’t worried about their energy efficiency because we pay for our electricity. The worst offenders in my opinion are the air conditioners – they’re through-the-wall units, noisy and you manually adjust the temperatures. Oh, and our preschooler can turn them on and off, so it will mysteriously grow hot in the summer or cold in the winter.
Line-dry clothes A friend teases me because there is always laundry hanging in our apartment. It’s true. Besides saving money and energy, I don’t want my clothes to shrink so I hang dry most of them. But I would love to have an outdoor clothesline.
Storage I am a huge fan of Amy Dacyczyn and the Tightwad Gazette – it is one of the books that changed my perspective and helped get us out of debt. But as an apartment dweller, I can’t save everything just in case I can use it later. In fact, sometimes I can’t save things that I know I will use later; it is often less expensive to replace an item than to pay for the space it takes, whether that space is a separate storage unit, a rented garage or the most valuable of real estate: my apartment’s closets.
Eliminate disposable products It’s tough to replace disposable products with washable products when you don’t have your own washer and dryer. It costs me $2/load to wash or dry and I already have about 2 loads of clothes, 1 load of underwear/towels, and diapers every other day. Yes, we use cloth diapers (more about that in a later post). But replacing tissues, paper towels, disinfecting wipes, etc. with cloth means making yet more laundry. Also, where do I keep the “dirty” things until there’s enough to make a complete load of like items? In an apartment, the default laundry room is our bedroom and I’m running out of room for laundry bins!
Next time I’ll write about the things I can do. But for now, what green goals have you put on hold while you’re in an apartment?