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Go Green in Your Apartment

Living in an apartment instead of a house, is an environmentally friendly use of space and resources. Many of today’s rental buildings have been updated with energy-efficient windows, furnaces, appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures. But it’s up to you to do your part to reduce energy use wherever possible and conserve precious resources like water.

Save energy and save money: Use fans during the summer to keep air circulating through your apartment.

Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, which use 75 per cent less energy and last longer.

Turn off all lights, unplug appliances and electronics, or use a power bar when not in use, at night or when you leave your apartment. Electronic devices that have transformers or “instant on” features are known as “power vampires” because they draw power even when turned off. Home entertainment centres and computers can use as much power as your refrigerator even when not in use.

Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine wash clothes goes to heating the water.

Dry some of your laundry on a drying rack to save the energy used during machine drying. Keep the heat in during winter by drawing your drapes or window coverings during the day. In summer, keeping the windows covered will help to keep your apartment cooler.

Clean the condenser coils on the back of your fridge at least once a year.

Conserve water: When doing laundry, adjust the machine setting to the size of the load. Report any leaky faucets to your property manager. The city has to treat water with chemicals and use energy to pump it back to you.

Take shorter showers.

Never let the water run when brushing your teeth: fill up a small cup of water instead.

When washing dishes, fill up the sink with soapy water and immerse your dishes. Set on a drying rack, then rinse, instead of letting the water run continuously while you wash and rinse each dish. If you have a dishwasher, run it only when full.

Banish plastic water bottles, disposable items and excess packaging: Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator instead of running the water until it gets cold.

Use a reusable water bottle for water and a travel mug for coffee.

Bring your own reusable bags to the store when you shop. Make a habit of carrying a small one in your handbag or leave a few in your car.

Use a cloth instead of paper towels and napkins.

Use covered storage ware and cookware in the kitchen instead of aluminum foil and disposable pans.

Break the habit of using plastic cutlery, paper plates and cups and invest in a washable set of plastic ware for parties, picnics and on the balcony.

Avoid pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, individually wrapped snacks, juice boxes and single-serving snacks, which are the cause of most of the litter that degrades our parks and public spaces. Invest in a set of reusable mesh fruit and vegetable bags that you can use for shopping and home storage.

Make your own cleaning supplies: Making your own cleaning products saves money, time and packaging and dramatically improves your indoor air quality.

Pure soap, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax (washing soda) and a coarse scrubbing sponge can take care of most household cleaning needs. Be sure to purchase a couple of refillable spray bottles from the hardware store.

For an all-purpose cleaner, use a mixture of ½ tsp. washing soda, ¼ tsp. liquid soap, and 2 cups hot tap water.

A good natural glass cleaner can be made by mixing ¼ tsp. liquid detergent, 3 tbs. vinegar and 2 cups water in a spray bottle.

Compost and recycle: In most cities, apartments send way too much garbage to landfills. Learn what can be recycled in your municipality and commit to making recycling a regular habit. In Toronto that includes everything from egg cartons to tetra paks, styrofoam trays and plastic containers. Properly dispose of used furniture, electronics, clothing and household items, batteries as directed by your community.

Walk, cycle, take public transportation or use a shared vehicle to help reduce the number of cars on the roads. Just a few small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in the quality of the environment for everyone.

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