LOS ANGELES So you're a renter and you want to green your space, but your landlord won't splurge on solar panels.
Don't fret. There are plenty of low-cost ways for apartment dwellers to be eco-friendly.
You can be a green tenant by unplugging appliances or using chemical-free products. It's as easy as fixing leaky faucets or installing window treatments to conserve heat in the winter and to keep your place cool in the summer without cranking up the air conditioning.
"There's a myth that there isn't a lot that renters can do," said Paula Cino, director of Energy and Environmental Policy with the National Multi Housing Council. "Our individual behavior has a huge impact on sustainability. The resident has a lot of opportunity to make big differences themselves without any input from the landlord whatsoever."
Take it from Colin Beavan. The 46-year-old New York writer embarked on a yearlong experiment to see how much he could shrink his environmental footprint. He used candles instead of electric lights. He gave away his air conditioner. He unplugged his freezer and reduced his trash production. Beavan chronicled his efforts on a blog, No Impact Man. In addition to cutting his power bills, he figures he and his family eliminated 4,000 gallons of garbage that would have otherwise ended up in dumps.
"The problem for apartment dwellers is that you can't change the infrastructure of the building," he said. "So it comes down to using less."
Americans are consumers to the core, rapidly accumulating and discarding belongings that gobble up energy as they're manufactured, delivered and then eventually dumped into landfills.
"Many of us have just been flying through things, purchasing at alarming rates and making no commitment to the things we already have," said Wanda Urbanska, author of "The Heart of Simple Living."
Here are some ways to make an apartment eco-friendly:
Use biodegradable trash bags.
Run the dishwasher full, then air-dry the dishes.
Put aerators on faucets to save water.
Buy chemical-free cleaning supplies.
Help your refrigerator stay cool by cleaning the coils regularly and locating it far from the stove.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables in a window box or in pots.
Unplug small appliances when they're not in use.
Chuck coffee grounds and vegetable and fruit scraps into a composter.