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Renters can do their part to be eco-friendly

LOS ANGELES — So you're a renter and you want to green your space, but your landlord won't splurge on solar panels. "Our individual behavior has a huge impact on sustainability," said Paula Cino, director of Energy and Environmental Policy with the National Multi Housing Council. "The resident has a lot of opportunity to make big differences themselves without any input from the landlord whatsoever." Here are some low-cost ways for apartment dwellers to be eco-friendly. Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

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Recycling

• Furnish your apartment with hand-me-downs or used items plucked from Craigslist, garage sales, even recycling bins.

• Check out thrifts stores and consignment shops to fill your wardrobe.

• Stock the bathroom with toilet tissue made from recycled paper. (If every household in the nation swapped one roll of traditional toilet paper for a recycled roll, the effort could save 424,000 trees, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.)

• Clean with old rags or T-shirts.

• For tenants whose buildings don't participate in a recycling program, Earth911.com lists local recycling collection centers.

Water

• Collect your old bath water or dishwater. Known as gray water, it can be used to water houseplants or for outdoor irrigation. But you'll want to use only natural, biodegradable soap to keep from harming your greenery and to keep chemicals from leaching into the water table.

• Then there's the toilet. Flushing accounts for about 30 percent of the water consumed in an average home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Places a 2-liter soda bottle filled with water in the toilet tank to displace some of the water, reducing the amount used in each flush-refill cycle. You can also buy a bigger float ball or adjust the existing one so that it rests closer to the bottom of the tank, shutting off the refill valve earlier.

• Water monitors such as the ShowerTime from Efergy and the Waterpebble track the amount of water you've used in the shower and set off an alarm when you reach a preset limit.

• Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads to cut back water use.

Electricity

• Find out which appliances are the biggest power consumers in your apartment with an energy audit, which public utilities usually offer free (hint: refrigerators are major energy hogs) and consider replacing them with energy-efficient models.

• Even when they're switched off, most home appliances and electronic devices continue drawing a little bit of power as long as they're plugged in. These "vampires" account for an estimated 10 percent of residential energy use in the United States. Shedding these leeches is easy. Simply unplug the stuff you don't use most of the time. Make it easy on yourself by plugging clusters of devices into a single power strip that can be switched on and off.

• Recharge your gadgets with a solar-powered charger.

• Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use about 75 percent less energy.

More green tips for renters

Living green is possible even if you rent. 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. Or make your own. Use vinegar and old newspapers to shine windows. Scrub countertops with baking soda.

• Help your refrigerator stay cool by cleaning the coils regularly and locating it far from the stove.

• Grow your own fruit 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.

Renters can do their part to be eco-friendly 09/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 5:30am]

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