green living tips for renters

While it’s exhilarating to daydream of owning a home with solar panels, rainwater toilets, geothermal heating and a green roof… sometimes, the reality is that you rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city. So what’s a renter who cares about sustainability to do?

It’s true: When you rent, you can’t make those big improvements to major appliances or home energy systems like property owners can. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to tread lightly on the planet. (Bonus: the money you can save from some of these can go right into your off-the-grid dream house fund.)

Here are some sustainability tips, sized just right for renters.

1. Recycle.

This one can seem a bit “duh.” But make it as easy as possible to do – get a large, sturdy bin for your recyclables and put it in a prominent place. Also, make sure you know your city or township’s rules for recycling, which could include special instructions for separating materials or putting them in specific colored bags.

2. Buy less stuff.

And when you do buy stuff, buy local stuff – or consider a secondhand or vintage version first.

3. Grow something.

If you dig the idea of growing your own food, container gardening is a great solution for renters. Alternatively, ask your landlord if you can tend to a little patch in the yard. (Hey, the worst you could hear is “No!”) If outside gardening isn’t an option, check out indoor gardening kits for herbs or lettuce. If veggies aren’t your thing, even a humble houseplant can improve the air quality in your space.

4. Watch your energy usage.

Save energy (and money) by unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, air drying dishes and clothes, and changing your light bulbs to energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs. For more tips, visit

5. Don’t waste water.

Take shorter showers, and install a low-flow showerhead if you can. Only run the dishwasher or do the laundry if you have a full-sized load. And turn off the tap when you brush your teeth – doing this in the morning and at night can save a surprising 8 gallons of water per day!

6. Use natural cleaning methods.

Naturally derived cleaning products are gentle on the earth, plus they’re safe for kids and pets. Consumers have more options than ever for biodegradable household cleaners these days. In some instances, though, you can get the job done with what you have lying around the house. For example: Did you know you can unclog a stubborn drain using only baking soda and vinegar?

7. Reuse.

Travel mugs, shopping bags, storage containers, you name it–green living means limiting the amount of waste you produce by reusing things whenever you can.

8. Be a smart shopper (and chef).

The mass production, packaging and transportation of food has a big impact on our environment. Reduce your carbon footprint by buying local whenever you can.

Once you bring your groceries home, don’t let them go to waste. Use fresh vegetables, meats or cheeses on the verge of expiring first. Not sure what you can make with the random ingredients you have lying around? Check out to plug in ingredients and get recipe ideas. And if all else fails, know what foods you can and can’t feed to the dog.

Though your space might be small, these little steps add up to make a big impact on protecting the environment. Speaking of protection, here’s another little step to consider: protect your stuff with renter’s insurance.

Starting around $10 a month, renters insurance covers your belongings (since your landlord’s policy usually doesn’t), as well as other things like temporary living expenses and personal liability.

Pro tip: Purchasing a renter’s and an auto policy together can qualify you for a multipolicy discount. In some cases, the discount actually pays for the renter’s policy. Because individual policies will vary, always check with your local Erie Insurance agent to confirm discounts, rates and rules. Find an ERIE agent to help you get covered.