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CCAT 12 ways to green up your apartment
12 Ways to Green up your Apartment (and Life)
1) Buy Bulk Food: Cut down on packaged products by buying in bulk while reusing your bags and twist ties. Cutting down on the packaging used helps save on: energy used in the production process, resources, and eliminates extra garbage from the waste stream. For perspective, 40% of what Americans throw away each year is packaging. You can also reuse packaging from other items like jam jars and yogurt containers to store your food as well as reduce your waste.
2) Household Cleaners: Vinegar and baking soda are great natural cleaners. Baking soda is good for scrubbing tiles, showers, sinks, and other hard surfaces due to its abrasive nature. Making a paste of baking soda and water is good for oven scrubbing! Vinegar is best for cleaning mirrors and glass. To get a truly shiny shine, use a bit of vinegar with an old crumpled newspaper. Baking soda and vinegar can also be used together, for fizzy bathroom cleaning fun. Stop by CCAT for more ideas on non-toxic, natural house cleaning alternatives.
3) High Efficiency Light Bulbs: Move over Compact Florescents, the LED is here! While the CFL still has low power requirements (about 13 Watts compared to the average Incandescent bulb's 60 Watts), it does not have as long a life span as the LED. A CFL bulb can last an average of 8,000 hours while the LED can last up to 50,000 hours. That's a lot of hours. Choosing a lower wattage light bulb will help save you money on your electric bill as well as save resources used to generate electricity. Click on the link above to compare light bulbs and choose which one is right for you.
4) Compost Bucket or Worm Bin: Put your food scraps back into the cycle of nature by turning them into valuable compost, instead of throwing them away. Compost is formed through the decomposition of food and garden waste, making a nutrient rich product that you can use in your garden. A worm bin follows the same principle, but allows worms to munch on your leftovers and help in your compost creation. Worms also leave behind their casings, which your plants will love and appreciate. For more information on composting check out the CCAT Compost System and the CCAT Vermicomposting Bin.
5) Thermal Curtains: Help to stop cold drafts from coming in through your windows and valuable heat from escaping. To get the most bang for your buck with your thermal curtains, pull them back in the day to let the sun shine in, and in the evening close the curtains to keep the solar energy in. Keeping the solar radiation as well as body heat in and not letting it escape out your window will help you save on your heating bill and keep your house much warmer at night. CCAT sells thermal curtains, or you can make your own!
6) Keep the Refrigerator and Freezer full: Frozen or cold food items keep the fridge temperature cold, thereby decreasing the frequency of cooling cycles (and energy used!). Jugs of water can be used if necessary. Also, keeping the coils clean and providing a ventilation space will increase fridge efficiency. This same principle can be used in cold boxes, which take in cool air from the outdoors to chill your fruits and vegetables. For more information on high efficiency refrigeration visit http://www.sunfrost.com/.
7) Container Gardens: Grow some of your own herbs and vegetables in containers that can be moved easily, if you don't have access to an outdoor garden. Indoor plants are a great option, because they brighten up a room and can grow happily indoors even when it's not their growing season. Containers can be purchased or re-used, or you can make your own! For seedlings and starts, small newspaper pots are a good option. Newspaper pots are a sustainable option because they are made of organic material and thus are compostable, meaning you can put your plant right into the soil and let the newspaper decompose. If you're particularly artsy, ceramic pots are another great homemade option.
8) A Recycled Material Household: Tap into the urban waste stream to make home furnishings! A wood pallet can be used to make mattress box springs. Milk crates can be turned into shelving. Old wine corks can be used to make your own recycled cork board. Scrap wood could make you a bedside table. Old beer or granola bar boxes have the perfect cardboard to be turned into a homemade recycled journal.
9) Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Recycle: Look for ways to reduce your consumption, use of water etc, and ways to reuse the byproducts of your consumption (i.e. reuse cans and bottles, do dishes in portable bucket so grey water can be used for landscape irrigation etc.). Rethink your lifestyle patterns and 'needs' to see if there are excesses that can be avoided in the future or if alternatives exist. Recycle everything that you can as a last option after reducing, reusing and rethinking.
10) Be conscious of your energy use (i.e. turn things off when not in use) and aware of phantom loads (electrical devices that continue to draw power even when 'off.' For example, anything that has a clock built in is a phantom load. The solution is to either unplug certain electronics or have a power strip that can be switched off).
11) Ride a bike, walk, take the bus, or car pool. All these are ways to decrease your consumption of fossil fuels.
12) Support your neighbors: buy locally grown and/or produced items whenever possible.
More information is available by visiting the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, located next to the BSS and across from the Schatz lab on the Humboldt State University campus. Or visit the CCAT website.
Updated by: Akr57 20 April 2015
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