Living in an Apartment? Go Green With These 10 Urban Sustainability Tips

Going sustainable in a rental or urban environment might seem challenging, but green apartment living is within reach with the right tips and a conscious mindset. By making minor changes to your daily routine, you can reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and adopt eco-friendly habits that contribute to a greener future. The tips below can empower you to make a positive change from cleaning appliances to insulating your home.


1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 


The first step to sustainable apartment living? Adopting the three Rs — reduce, reuse, and recycle

Reduce waste and energy consumption by avoiding single-use items such as plastic bottles and paper plates and unplugging unused devices in your home to prevent phantom energy consumption. 


To reuse, opt for biodegradable, reusable alternatives like stainless steel utensils and ceramic dishes, and consider upcycling for clothing and other items (more on this in section 6). For proper recycling, be intentional about sorting waste in your home, and research local recycling programs to ensure you’re following the correct guidelines.


2. Insulate, Where Possible 


Insulating your apartment can create a more energy-efficient and comfortable living space while reducing environmental impact. Insulation acts as a barrier against the need for excessive heating or cooling. Thus, reducing carbon emissions minimizes strain on fossil fuels and other natural resources. Take these steps towards insulating your apartment to contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.


  • Caulk and seal windows: Enhance insulation by using weatherstripping or caulking to seal gaps around windows. 
  • Insulate your doors: Gaps around doors can allow drafts. Apply weatherstripping or door sweeps to seal any openings. 
  • Install window shades: Heavy curtains can help prevent heat loss in winter and unwanted heat gain in summer. Use window films, thermal blinds, or curtains to reduce heat transfer further.
  • Insulate with heavy rugs: Adding insulation under flooring can help retain heat. However, this isn’t always possible when living in an apartment. Layering your floor with heavier rugs can help keep your home more insulated.
  • Seal other cracks and openings: Inspect for cracks and openings in walls, floors, and ceilings. Use caulk or sealant to fill these gaps to prevent drafts and improve insulation.


Note: Before making any modifications to your apartment, it’s essential to consult with your landlord or property management to ensure compliance with any rules or regulations.


3. Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances 


Investing in energy-efficient appliances can significantly reduce your energy consumption and save costs. Energy-efficient appliances use advanced technologies and innovative features to minimize energy usage without compromising performance, making them a smart choice for both your home and the planet. 


When shopping for appliances, look for the Energy Star label and prioritize those with high ratings (7 or over). The Energy Star program, recognized worldwide, indicates that an appliance meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by environmental protection agencies.


4. Keep Your Appliances Clean


Not looking to purchase new appliances for your rental? Fortunately, regular cleaning and maintenance can help your appliances run a little greener. Over time, dust, lint, and debris can accumulate in appliances’ vents, coils, and filters. This obstruction can reduce performance and restrict airflow, making them work twice as hard. Here’s how to clean a few common household appliances for a more sustainable home. 




Clean the coils at the back or underneath the fridge using a vacuum or a coil brush to remove dust and debris. You’ll also want to regularly defrost and clean your freezer to maintain optimal cooling efficiency.




Clean your dishwasher’s filter, interior, and spray arms regularly to remove food particles and mineral buildup. A clogged filter and blocked spray arms can hinder water flow and reduce efficiency. 




Clean your dryer’s lint filter before or after each load to prevent lint buildup, which can reduce airflow and increase energy consumption. Additionally, clean the dryer vent and ducts annually to remove accumulated lint and ensure proper ventilation.


5. Be Mindful of Water Usage


Water is a precious resource, and reducing your consumption can have a significant impact. Here are a few tips to get you started. 


  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to minimize water usage without compromising functionality. 
  • Be mindful of water usage while washing dishes or brushing your teeth by turning off the tap when unnecessary. 
  • Consider collecting rainwater in a container to water plants, reducing the demand for tap water. 

6. Give New Life to Old Items by Upcycling


Embrace upcycling to reduce waste and give new life to old items. Instead of discarding old furniture, clothing, or household items, consider repurposing them into something new and useful. For example, you can turn an old wooden pallet into a stylish wall shelf, transform a vintage suitcase into a unique coffee table, or convert glass jars into stylish storage containers. Upcycling reduces waste and adds a personal touch to your living space.


7. Adopt a Minimalist Mindset


Minimalism isn’t for everyone. We get it. However, adopting a few minimalistic habits can reduce waste, save money, and help anyone live more sustainably. Prioritize quality over quantity by decluttering your space (who doesn’t need a deep cleaning every once in a while?), donating or selling items you no longer need, and considering new items’ longevity and environmental impact. You’ll also want to choose durable, high-quality products that will last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements.


8. Support Local and Sustainable Businesses


Choosing local and sustainable businesses for everyday needs can do wonders for the planet. Buying local can reduce transportation costs and the excessive fuel usage and emissions needed to make long-distance deliveries while also helping your local community thrive.


Look for local farmers’ markets or community-supported agriculture programs to purchase fresh, locally-grown produce. Opt for eco-friendly and ethically produced products when shopping for household items or clothing. And if you often shop online, ensure that the products you purchase don’t have to go through long delivery processes.


9. Consider Urban Composting


According to Feeding America, nearly 40% of all food in the United States is wasted yearly. That equates to about 119 billion pounds of food and 130 billion meals. Not only can being mindful of food portion size and excessive waste reduce your carbon footprint, but composting — even in urban environments — can be a great help. 


Composting is an excellent way to reduce organic waste, and it can be extremely easy—even in an apartment. Use a small-scale system like a composting bin for fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and more. Doing so can divert waste from landfills and produce valuable compost for indoor plants or community gardens.


10. Shop Sustainable Furniture at CORT 


Sustainability is at the forefront of CORT’s mission. Unlike fast furniture, our furniture items are designed to be long-lasting and durable. When you rent with CORT Furniture Rental, you can rest assured that you’re making a sustainable choice. Once items have completed their rental life cycle, they’re transferred to CORT Furniture Outlet to find their forever homes. Our sustainable-by-nature model allows us to preserve resources and provide quality items for rent — and eventually to purchase. Ready to furnish your home? Create your package online, or head to your nearby CORT showroom to design a custom package that suits your space and needs.

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