The wooden door creaked open in a friendly and welcoming manner as Peter Moede paused in the doorway and admired his new apartment. He immediately began to think of alternative places to eat once his kitchen table was converted into a beer pong table.
“That’s unacceptable!” Moede heard his mother squeal as he followed her gaze to his garbage can, which was nearly toppling over due to the excessive amount of empty water bottles.
Moede’s mother is someone you can all identify with; a parental figure disapproving of her child’s life choices. However, Peter admit to his fault this time.
“I come from a family of 11 siblings,” Moede said, “I know it’s important to recycle. But, now that its just me, I guess I really don’t know how to live eco-friendly.”
Moede is not alone. “Nearly three-quarters of Americans see global climate change as “very serious” (45%) or “somewhat serious,” (29%),” according to a Pew Research Study. However, recognizing that there is a threat is not enough; its learning how to live environmentally responsible that can be challenging.
To lead you in the right direction, here are three ways you can challenge yourself to live more environmentally friendly within your home or apartment.
The Water Bottle-Less Challenge
From a young age, you were told that recycling plastic water bottles would help reduce your carbon footprint, and that is true.
“Recycling is a good thing, but reducing your use in the first place is the best alternative,” according to Dr. Luz Claudio, expert Environmental health researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
For a month, challenge your roommates to go without using or buying plastic water bottles and see who wins. After a month of healthy competition and less plastic waste in your apartment, your life without plastic water bottles may turn into an unbreakable habit.
If you find old plastic water bottles in your car or around your apartment before you begin the challenge, make sure you are properly recycling them.
“It is so important to educate yourself and know the recycling rules for your local municipality so that you are properly sorting and not throwing recyclable materials into the trash,” said Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability for MillerCoors.
If the recycling rules for your local municipality are a mystery to you, simply google where you live and have the answers at your fingertips.
Once you begin the challenge, to better your chances of success against your roommates, “try using one of the many alternatives of reusable bottles, such as sports BPA-free water bottles, or aluminum and stainless steel bottles,” recommends Claudio.
If between your monthly Netflix subscription and your strict Chipotle diet you do not have the money for a new water bottle, “just carry a collapsible cup for tap water,” said Claudio.
Unplug your Energy to Save your Energy
The next time you receive that daunting, pricy energy bill in the mail and routinely consider ways you can cut back on your spending; let’s look to how you can prevent the costly bill in the first place.
“By unplugging energy-intensive appliances when they are not in use, you can save up to two months of the average home’s energy use,” said John Oppermann, real estate broker and lawyer for Green Real Estate NYC.
If your head is racing wondering how you will get behind the oven to unplug it before you leave for work in the morning, fear not; the solution is easier than you think.
“The greatest energy users are TVs, computers, printers, video game consoles and cell phone chargers,” said Oppermann.
Every morning, after checking social media and brushing your teeth, challenge yourself to look around your apartment and find ways you can unplug before you leave for the day. The benefit of doing so could save you on your energy bill.
Feel Better About Laundry Day
When you haven’t actually seen the floor in your bedroom for a week and you find yourself wearing socks with cartoons and pizza on them, you know its laundry day. This time, instead of the challenge being finding the motivation to even do the laundry, challenge yourself to do it more environmentally efficient.
Doing your own laundry is another feat you must endure after moving out of your parent’s house. However, educating yourself about the energy that is used when you do the laundry, and how you can reduce that energy is something that you might even use to educate your parents.
“Using cold water when you do the laundry will save 80 percent on laundry energy,” says Oppermann.
In addition to washing your clothes in cold water, when it gets cold outside make sure you remember to wash your favorite pair of ski socks and fuzzy winter hat, it could help you save energy on your heat bill.
“My all-time favorite tip is wearing a hat and socks indoors in the cold season to stay warm while not powering up my furnace,” said Murray Suid, environmentally responsible homeowner from San Francisco.
Though it may seem that your daily routine is already too hectic and some of these challenges seem like more work, introducing and incorporating them into your lifestyle one day at a time will implement habits that become part of your routine.
It is never to late to try something new in life and while recycling your garbage is extremely commendable and resourceful, challenge yourself to go one step further to make your first apartment or home one you can be proud of.