You can live a green lifestyle in an apartment.
It's true that some decisions are out of your hands — your appliances, for instance — but there are plenty of changes you can make day to day to minimize your environmental impact.
• Reduce your waste. In 2008, the average amount of waste generated per person, per day in the U.S. was 4.5 pounds. One way to reduce that is to go paperless: cancel paper bills, read subscriptions online, use cloth napkins and real dishes rather than paper.
• Recycle. If your apartment community doesn't have a recycling bin, find a local recycling center and drop it off yourself.
• Lower your energy usage. Even when summer temperatures reach triple digits, be aware of the thermostat. Adjust the temperature so you're not cooling (or heating) your apartment when you're not there. Use cold water and cool dryer settings for laundry. Also, turn off lights, TVs and electronics when you're not using them, and unplug them if you'll be gone for more than a couple of days.
• Switch your bulbs. Swap out your incandescent lightbulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs.
• Use fans. Rather than adjusting the thermostat, turn on a fan. Moving air around uses less energy than changing the temperature.
• Hang blackout curtains. Dark curtains are a great way to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
• Use less water. The average American uses between 50 and 75 gallons of water daily. Turn off the water when you brush teeth or shave. Talk to your landlord about installing low-flow fixtures.
Take short showers, not baths; it takes approximately 36 gallons to fill up a bathtub vs. 15 to 25 gallons for a 5-minute shower.
• Flush sparingly. Every toilet flush uses 1.6 gallons (7 for older toilets) of water.