Sustainable living is a topic on everyone's minds now-a-days (or at least it should be). The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on August 6th of this year, and it confirmed what we have all been dreading - we have caused irreversible damage on our planet, and it is crucial that we step up our game as individuals now if we want to leave this world habitable for future generations. With that being said, there are many (big and small) upgrades that can be made to improve your living situation and allow you to live a ‘greener’ life - yes, even if you are living in a shared space like an apartment building!

  1. Save Energy (and money)

A very simple and effective way to reduce your energy consumption is to replace the traditional halogen lighting and bulbs in your apartment with energy efficient LED bulbs, and when they aren't in use, switch them off! LED bulbs can be a bit more costly, but they have a longer life span and will result in savings on your energy bills. A tip to get the most out of the investment is to save the old bulbs and switch them back if you move apartments so you can bring your LEDs to the new space! Also, unplug that phone charger from the outlet when you aren't charging your phone. It is still using energy even when ‘not in use.’

  1. Recycle!

Take advantage of your apartment buildings' separate garbage bins. Have multiple containers in your home to make sorting easy and research the proper way to recycle. Here is a great resource to properly understand what is recyclable in Canada is and what is not, and why getting this confused can be detrimental. Switching to more eco-friendly products (toothbrushes, package free items such as soaps/laundry detergent) or shopping bulk and package free is a great way to make this step that much easier, as it will result in a cut down on your waste. Two examples of sustainable grocers in Toronto are Bare Marke and Unboxed Market. Do some research and planning beforehand, as it will pay off in the end!

  1. Compost Food Waste

This one might seem a bit more confusing or difficult, but there are products and resources out there to make it easy and stress free. Composting is a great way to divert food waste from landfills, therefore cutting down on harmful gas emission (methane) that contributes significantly to climate change. There are a few different composting options designed for small spaces, with a balcony or without. Worm composters can be purchased ready-made, but are also super simple to DIY and require low maintenance (as the worms do all of the work for you!) and are perfect for small scale composting. Compost tumblers are great options if you have a balcony space and are processing a bit more waste. They can be purchased on amazon and can process household waste in as little as 13 days! All these options turn your food scraps into nutrient rich soil that can be used for houseplants or can be tossed into the garden for safe disposal.

  1. Take Advantage of Apps

There is a plethora of apps available to you that can help make this transition a lot easier. Some apps are dedicated to helping you consciously grocery shop, while some are designed to educate you on your municipalities waste and recycling policies. Some great examples are GoodGuide, ReCollect, BrightNest and HowGood.

  1. Opt Out of Junk Mail

If you have walked into your apartment's mailroom, you know how bad the junk mail problem can be! To stop receiving unaddressed advertising, place a note on your mailbox stating, “No junk mail please” and that should be enough to slow down the immense amount of paper that just gets tossed straight into the trash. Canada post also has a form available on their website that you can fill out if you happen to be still receiving junk mail. 

  1. Conscious Laundry 

It is most energy efficient to use cold water and wash at non-peak hours (6-8am and 8-10pm) when using a washing machine and only using it when you have a full load of laundry. A drying rack is also way more eco-friendly than using a dryer which uses between 1800 - 5000 watts and is the most energy draining appliance in the home.

  1. Shop Good Quality or Second Hand

When possible, opt to shop at second-hand stores or online marketplaces for items such as furniture, clothes or appliances as this supports a circular economy and extends the life cycle of products, reducing waste to a minimum. When you do need to purchase something new, consider spending a little bit more to shop sustainably and high quality, as it will last longer and reduce the need to constantly replace broken items with new ones.

So, are you motivated?! We are! It is up to us to make a difference, and every little effort counts to the big picture. Let us make more informed decisions that pave the way to making this planet more liveable for the people we leave behind.