Become a Green Tenant in 8 Easy Steps

Just a friendly game of recycling bin bowling. Photo: wetwebwork, Flickr Creative Commons

By Avi Yashchin

Do you want to be a greener homeowner or apartment dweller? Chucking your glass bottles into the recycling bin is nice — but there are plenty of other ways to be a green tenant.

At CleanEdison, the largest green-collar training firm in the country, we show students how to be efficient and minimize their environmental impact. And the great news? Green tenants reap huge financial savings along the way.

When we developed our curriculum for our Building Occupancy Training courses, we piloted the program in our Manhattan office. I’ve found that there’s a misconception that choosing “green” goods or services is somehow more expensive than the mainstream alternative. That’s just untrue – many of these measures cost nothing, and the impact is huge, with life-long savings in the thousands.

Here’s our primer on how be a green tenant:

Choose – and re-heat! – your coffee wisely. It’s a good idea to buy fair-trade coffee, which comes direct from the growers and adheres to strict social, economic, and environmental standards. And if your coffee languishes on the coffee maker’s hotplate all morning, consider saving that energy by zapping your coffee in the microwave instead.

Kick off your shoes. Shoes are responsible for 80% of the dirt and dust in buildings, and your shoes often track in antifreeze, animal waste, or pollen. And the less you have to clean the surfaces with chemicals, the better.

Actually use your kitchen sink. If you opt for a dishwasher, try to score an Energy Star model, which will save you roughly $3,000 per year – and only wash your dishes when the dishwasher is completely full. (Bonus points if you install a low-flow faucet.)

Chill out. For free instant savings, lower the temperature on your water heater between 120°F to 140°F. For every 10 degree reduction, you save 3 to 5% on your energy bill.

Keep it clean, organically. You probably already know that swapping the chemical-rich versions of your cleaning products for organic ones is better for your home and its occupants. But consider swapping out your regular cat litter for natural wheat kitty litter, which is biodegradable and compostable. You can also opt for a green cleaning service, such as Green Maid.

Embrace carpeted floors. Carpeted floors boost your home’s insulation, which may reduce energy bills. As an added bonus, there are earth-friendly carpet varieties, including some carpets that can be disassembled and continuously recycled. (Downside: carpets can be worse for allergy sufferers, so it is a balance to consider.)

Try a no-water car wash. A dozen car washes wastes 1,000 gallons of water. But products like No Wet Waterless Car Wash use emulsifiers that lift dirt away from your car so you can wipe it away.

Seriously, ditch the water bottles. Millions of plastic water bottles wind up in our landfills every year. It’s incredibly easy to mitigate your plastic footprint — just attach filtration systems on your faucets. And if you’re lucky enough to live in a city with decent-tasting tap water, like New York City, raise your glass in celebration! You can drink straight from the sink!

Also see How to Green Your Office in 10 Steps


Avi Yashchin is CEO of CleanEdison, which offers a range of green jobs training courses.

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