Living in a Sydney apartment might not seem like a particularly sustainable way of life. Well, not compared to living on an off-grid farm and growing your own organic vegetables, for example.
On the contrary, though, apartment living can be a great choice to cut down your carbon footprint. You are close to public transport or you can use a bicycle to get around because everything is close by. Your apartment is small, with lower energy and water needs. And there are lots of simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to help the planet, and lower your bills at the same time.
Here are some tips for sustainable apartment living in Sydney.
Ditch one-use items and junk mail
If you are getting lots of junk mail, especially from former tenants, send it all back. Write on the envelope that you would like to be removed from mailing lists. And opt for emailed bills and digital communication wherever possible
When out and about, take reusable veggie and shopping bags, a keep cup for coffee, and a water bottle with you so you don’t need to buy single-use bottles or bags.
Find your local Buy Nothing group and community garden
Buy Nothing is a wonderful movement that builds community and allows you to pass on things you don’t need rather than sending them to landfill. You’ll be amazed at what people are happy to take off your hands, and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbours.
Community gardens are another great way to get healthy, grow some food and meet people in the city. Visit the City of Sydney website to find your nearest garden.
Unplug appliances when not in use
Even that little red standby light is zapping energy unnecessarily. Simple turn everything off at the powerpoint to save small amounts of energy over a long period of time.
Wash and clean without chemicals
- Choose biodegradable laundry powder and wash your clothes on a lower temperature
- Ditch the clothes dryer and use a drying rack to dry your clothes (just be mindful of strata laws and avoid hanging things over your balcony railings)
- Rather than harsh chemicals, make your own all-purpose cleaner for your bathroom. Simply mix half a cup of vinegar and a quarter of a cup of baking soda into two litres of water. Read here for more easy, homemade cleaners that don’t contain toxic chemicals – especially good if you suffer from allergies.
Cut down on food waste
Did you know that the average Australian household throws out 20 per cent of the food they buy? If you are going to do one thing to help the planet, cut down on your food waste.
Sydneysider Sarah Wilson has made it her mission to encourage people to cut down on food waste, and has some great tips in her new cookbook, Simplicious Flow. Here are some of the things she recommends.
- Cut down on your meat. Researchers say that meat production causes one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. It also uses vast quantities of precious water. Cutting down or cutting out meat is one of the best things you can do for the environment – plus Sydney has wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables year round, so you won’t be missing out.
- Use up everything in your fridge (within reason) before buying, and remember that Best Before dates are an indication of when the food is at its best – it is usually still fine to eat a few days afterwards.
- Make clean-the-fridge soup before restocking vegetables, using this flexible recipe from a Paris apartment dweller and food writer, Clotilde Dusoulier. She also recommends meal planning and batch cooking to help you cut down on food waste while still having lots of delicious food to enjoy. Here is her guide to six days of winter meals.
Heat and cool naturally
- Rather than turning up your AC to full in summer, combine it with a lower-energy fan to circulate cool air.
- Invest in blackout curtains to keep heat out during the day, and open all your windows at night to cool down.
- LED light bulbs are a no brainer when it comes to reducing energy use.
- In winter, heat areas you are using and close doors to unused rooms. Use draft excluders, rugs and curtains to keep in heat.
Share your tips for sustainable apartment living
Any ideas you would like to share about how to make apartment living more sustainable? Please feel free to comment below!