living room with green pillows and plants on the coffee table

15 simple habits you should break to live greener

LIVE greener | 9 MIN READ | 2019-11-08

Want to start being more eco-friendly, but haven’t had the time to make the change? Living greener at home doesn’t have to be time consuming. Changing a few simple habits can make a world of a difference.

Read on for 15 simple habits to break at home to start living a greener life.

5 simple habits to break to make your kitchen more eco-friendly

apartment kitchen with stainless steel appliances

Pictured: Kitchen at Minto Apartments‘ Niagara West

The kitchen is where we spend most of our time – it’s where we go for coffee first thing in the morning and gather around over savoury snacks. It’s also a place where a lot of energy and water is consumed in your home. 

Here are five simple ways to make your kitchen environmentally friendly starting today: 

1. Avoid buying pre-packaged meals. Sure, it’s super convenient to grab precut veggies or premade meals from your local grocery store, but they’re almost always wrapped in single-use plastic, making it unnecessarily wasteful. 

Solution: Buy fresh ingredients and carve out an hour a day to make your own meals. Not only is this better for the planet, it’ll also save you money (and it’s the healthier option, too). 

2. Use less water by ensuring the dishwasher is full. No one likes seeing dishes pile up in the sink! Keep dirty dishes out of sight by stacking them in the dishwasher until you’re ready to run it. Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether it’s cleaning five plates or a full load. 

Solution: Wait until you have a full load before you turn the dishwasher on to be sure you’ll save water and energy. Contact your local energy supplier to find out what your off-peak hours are and you’ll save even more money while saving the planet.

3. Stop relying on single-use plastics. Did you know that the plastic items we’re so used to using on a daily basis can take anywhere from 10 - 1,000 years to decompose (or more)? Many of the plastics that don’t end up in our landfill end up in our lakes and oceans, destroying habitats and polluting our waters. 

Solution: Replace and stop buying daily single-use plastics. Instead make these easy switches: 

o Plastic straws – join the No Straw movement and try metal, steel, paper, or other biodegradable versions

o Saran wrap and sandwich bags – store your food in mason jars, stainless steel, or glass containers

o Plastic grocery bags – reusable grocery bags are easy to find, you can even make one easily

o Plastic water bottles – stainless steel water bottles work perfectly 

o Disposable cutlery – opt for metal cutlery on the daily, but if you need disposable options, try biodegradable alternatives

4. Made a mess in the kitchen? Use washable rags instead of paper towels to clean messes. You’ll save trees and keep paper out of landfills.

Solution: There are many great alternatives for dish rags that will last you months or even years. Try organic cotton dish towels or microfiber cleaning towels and throw them into the laundry hamper when you’re done. 

5. Made too much for dinner? Keep your leftovers in stainless steel or glass containers in the fridge. We know it’s really easy to forget about leftovers and let them sit for days before we eventually throw them out. 

Solution: Make an effort to pack leftovers for lunch the next day or reimagine them. For instance, take the chicken and add it into your afternoon salad. Not only will you be reducing waste, you’ll also be saving water by wasting less food.

5 simple habits to break to go greener in your bathroom

apartment bathroom with stone countertops

Pictured: Bathroom at Minto Apartments‘ The Quarters

You start every morning in your bathroom and end every night there before you hop into bed. Aside from your kitchen, it’s the next room that uses the most water – from toilets to showers and sinks. 

Here are a few bathroom tips you can start putting into action to live greener: 

1. Choose showers over baths on the daily. A typical bathtub holds 36 gallons of water and even if it’s partially filled, it’ll likely use 25 gallons of water. 

A ten minute shower can use as little as 5 gallons. If you want to take it one step further, install a low-flow shower head and save even more. Check out this guide to the best low-flow shower heads so you won’t have to compromise water pressure. 

2. Start timing your showers. Do you know how long you spend in the shower? Waterproof shower timers cost only about $6, and they’ll keep you aware and on schedule. Imagine, no more running late (at least not in the bathroom)!

You’ll be able to set goals for shorter showers and also track how hot your showers are. Less hot showers are better in the long run not only for the environment, but also for your hair and skin. 

3. When you hop out of the shower, reach for a towel made from natural materials like bamboo. Conventional cotton is one of the most pesticide-laden crops on the planet. Did you know it takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 kg of cotton? Not to mention, it also uses 84 million pounds of pesticides each year, causing a long list of environmental and health problems for farmers who harvest the crop. 

Bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton and is widely available, check out some options on Amazon.

4. Remember to turn off the tap when shaving or brushing your teeth. This will save approximately 4 gallons of water per minute, and up to 200 gallons of water for a family in a month. 

Another easy tip is to turn the tap off when lathering your hands in soap or washing your face. 

5. Ever wondered about the age old question: what’s the right way to hang toilet paper? We can put an end to the mystery now, over is better than under. Why you ask? Hanging the roll over wastes less paper. Seriously! When the roll is sheet under, you’re more likely to tear more paper and chances are half the roll may end up on the floor. 

So, go check your bathrooms and make sure you’ve got it the right way (and settle the argument once and for all!). While you’re at it, check what toilet paper you’re using. If it’s not 100% recycled, why not change that today? There are many great options available to make sure we’re not flushing brand new trees down the toilet.

5 simple habits to break to live greener in your bedroom

spacious apartment bedroom with white and blue bedding

Pictured: Bedroom at Minto Apartments‘ Sophia

We typically spend at least 8 hours a day in our bedrooms. After all, it’s where we wind down and relax for a good night’s sleep. 

Read on to learn a few simple things you can do to make your peaceful abode more eco-friendly:

1. Do you use your bedroom as your home office? Take a look at your desk and how many bills and random papers you have lying around. Choosing to go paperless (whether it’s for your bills, statements or paychecks) can make a world of difference not only for the environment, but also the sheer amount of clutter it’ll reduce. 

Having a digital copy will also make it much easier to sort and find what you need, when you need it. If you need to print, print double-sided so you’ll use the least amount of paper. Check out this post for more tips on using less paper.

2. You have at least one electronic in your bedrooms…or maybe a few? Did you know that even when you turn off your TV, it still uses electricity? To save energy and reduce your carbon footprint, put all major electronics on power strips and then turn the power strip off when you’re not using anymore.

Another quick fix is to pay attention to your small devices. Shut down your laptop when you’re done with it instead of just logging off, and unplug your charger when your phone’s at 100%. 

3. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them. If the sun’s out, open up the blinds and curtains instead of turning on the lights. 

If you want to take it a step further, replace your bulbs (at least the ones used most often) with energy-efficient LED bulbs. They can reduce your energy output by 85%. They cost as little as $5, and can save more than $100 over its lifetime. 

4. A great bedroom isn’t great without the perfect furniture. While there are many retailers that offer great pieces, buying second-hand reduces your footprint by saving items from ending up in the landfill. 

Thrift shopping is also an excellent way to find gems on a budget. Have you been thrifting before? Why not give it a try and see what you can find. It’s fun!

5. Stop buying things you don’t really need. Take a look at your room, especially your closet, and look at all the pieces you’ve barely touched. Is there a lot? If you answered yes, try embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. 

Minimalism doesn’t mean stopping buying altogether. It just means buying less and being more thoughtful about what you end up purchasing. Does it add value? Is it good quality? Will it last for a long time? Not only will you reduce your consumer footprint, but you’ll save a lot of money while you’re at it.

Putting some or all of these tips into action can make a world of a difference! Small steps = big change. Send us a message on Twitter or Facebook to let us know which ones you’re planning to try.