8 Tips for Eco-Friendly Apartment Living

I haven’t lived in an apartment complex for a long time, but hear that it comes with a slew of challenges like not having access to recycling, composting, and generally not having control over your own space.

Now, I do rent so while I don’t have a lot of apartment experience, I do understand what it is like to not have complete control/ownership over my own space.

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

No matter how bad I want an electric car… my landlord is NOT putting in a 240 Volt charging port…

He’s also not going to install solar panels and a grey water system, but that would be dope and super green. So, I wanted to round up all of the small things that you could do to make apartment/renting a little more eco-friendly.

1. lightbulbs baby:

The first thing I did when I moved into my rental was switch out alllllll the light bulbs. Instead of using the old school halogen light bulbs that came with the place, I switched them to LEDs. This of course lowered my electricity bill and are much more eco-friendly.

Since LEDs are a little spendy… I kept all of the halogen bulbs and then just swapped them after I moved out…

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

2. energy, energy:

Just because you can’t get solar panels installed in your apartment doesn’t mean you can’t switch to renewable energy. Companies like Arcadia Power and Clean Choice Energy are energy suppliers.

When you sign up, they work with your existing utility company to make sure all of the energy you use is supplied by clean energy sources. This doesn’t cost anything extra for you and in fact, you’ll probably see your electricity bill go down!

And, did I mention if you sign up for Arcadia, you’ll also get $100 in Reformation credit? Yah. Clean energy AND sustainable fashion… being eco-friendly never felt so good.

But, in all seriousness, they just dropped their new shoe collection and I’m seriously lusting over a pair of their gold menage sandals.

If Arcadia nor Clean Choice supply your area, a quick google search should turn up an alternative!

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

3. recycle?

I’ve heard recycling in large apartment buildings can be tricky because of trash chutes?

I’ve lived in two apartment buildings one was two stories and the other was four stories… neither of them had trash chutes.

There was a dumpster and you were required to take all of your stuff out to the dumpster.

Come to think of it… the two story apartment didn’t have recycling which is a super bummer. If I didn’t have recycling available at my apartment or only had a trash chute, then I would try to find another way of dealing with my recycling.

One of the great things about living a zero waste lifestyle is that I don’t have much recycling at all because zero waste is about recycling less - not more! You can read more in this post What is Zero Waste?

So here are all the ways I would make recycling work for me:

  1. I would walk my recyclables down separately if my building had a designated recycling room.

  2. I would ask my friends who had access to curb side recycling if I could bring my recycling over to their house.

  3. I would bring my recycling to a drop point.

  4. I would ask my landlord to get curbside recycling or set up a recycling area and get signatures from other people in my building.

  5. I would bring it to work and use their recycling pick up.

Also, check out my series How to Recycle the RIGHT way.

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

4. compost:

Compost is another tricky one. If you have a small balcony you could easily implement a tumble bin, but if you don’t things might be a bit more challenging. I’ve got a ton of tips in my post How to Compost in an Apartment.

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

5. shower heads:

Who’s got two thumbs and swapped her wasteful shower head out for a very efficient one!? THIS GIRL.

JK. My husband did it as a surprise and it was the sweetest thing ever. He bought this shower head which hasn’t sacrificed water pressure - which is so important to me! High water pressure = big hair. I’m from the south and you know how we like our big hair. Volume baby.

So, we saved the original shower head and will swap it back once we move.

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

6. insulate:

I’m not sure how insulated your apartment or rental is, and it’s not like you can start swapping out windows and filling in walls. However, if you are building a home and looking for eco-friendly insulation… could I recommend old denim?

I’ve rounded up a few easy solutions to help insulate your home to keep it warm or cool depending on the season. This will help keep your energy bill down which is good for the planet!


Dress your windows! Curtains help insulate a room blocking drafts and retaining heat in the winter. They also help to shade the room from the sun in the summer which will keep it cooler.

According to energy.gov: “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%.” That will save you some cash on the air-conditioning bill. Not to mention that window treatments add a good design element to a room.


Stop drafts from coming in with a weighted blocker that you can take with you when you move.


Alright, so I know that these are plastic… but if you have old, thin, vintage single-pane windows and your house is freezing! These could really help reduce your energy cost. Which in the long run is actually going to be better for the planet than a little bit of plastic waste.

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

7. furniture and decor:

If you need to go shopping, opt for second hand! This is a great way to bring character to your apartment, you’ll get a bargain, and it’s great for the planet.

Check out my 10 favorite places to shop secondhand online.

Of course, if you can’t find something that you need or like, then check into getting something sustainable. I have two end tables from Urban Wood Goods which was made our of reclaimed wood that I absolutely love!

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving

8. check your fridge:

Your fridge might be one of the biggest users of energy in your home. In fact, 25% of your electric bill may be from the fridge alone. When I moved this last time (check out my Zero Waste Home Tour and Zero Waste Home Tour Treehouse edition ((I’ve moved a lot)) the fridge was from the 70s or 80s.

It was absolutely ancient and the shelves were actually duct taped inside. It was completely falling apart and the cooling was sporadic.

Thankfully my landlord got us a new energy efficient fridge! But, to keep it working well, it’s important to keep the compressor coils clean!

If you can, try to dust and vacuum the back of your fridge to ensure your energy bill stays low. Cover Make surer your fridge's seal is tight and keep your freezer full.

The more stuff you have in your fridge, the easier it is for it to cool. So, if you don’t have a bunch of food in there, just fill up some old mason jars full of water.

Check out my guide How to Freeze in Mason Jars because yes, you can freeze in mason jars!

I would love to know how you’re keeping your apartment eco-friendly?

8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #apartment #sustainable #apartmentliving