With climate change and sustainability at the forefront of many conversations, you may be left wondering what you can do and what part you can play in making the world a greener place. From cutting down on things we own, to recycling, upcycling, and buying used/second-hand goods, there are many ways we can become greener and help the earth.
Living sustainably in an apartment can be a challenge, but with the right focus, we can all realize our creativity and make it happen. One small step we can take is to furnish our apartments with second-hand furniture and used goods. Not only does it give our living spaces character and conversation pieces, it’s sustainable, less expensive, and better for the environment.
Upcycling is a way to reuse materials and items to create products of higher quality and better value than before. Vintage furniture is trending in home décor and can make your apartment or townhome feel luxurious and custom without the large price tag. As a bonus, it gives you a fun weekend project to take on.
Recycling in apartments can be tricky at times, but with the right knowledge and information, it can be done seamlessly and sustainably. At Avenue Living Communities, we have come up with some of the best tips and ways for you to recycle, upcycle, and buy used/second-hand goods and furniture.
Not only are garage sales great ways to find knick-knacks and things for our daily lives, but they’re also wonderful places to find used, larger items such as furniture, which can be transformed into something useful in your living space. Get outside on a sunny weekend and explore your neighborhood for sales. Pro tip: Show up early to garage sales as the most valuable items tend to go quick.
Upcycling lets your creativity shine. Take mason jars, for example. A small, simple item that you can use for a multitude of things including drinking glasses, candle making, storing pens, or as containers for dry goods or other foods.
Next time you’re looking to save some space, try using spare ice cube trays and bakeware to organize your things. Plastic bottles can also be used for planting herbs and other small plants. Group unique planters together to add some colour and life around your home.
Got some old candle jars lying around? You can clean them out and use them to store coins, elastics, small toiletries, and other household items. Perhaps you’re looking to hang some pictures in your apartment? Use some old lattice. It can be altered to make any size picture frame you need. There are other renter-friendly, non-damaging ways to hang pictures in your apartment here.
From Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, estate sales, consignment stores, thrift stores, and yard sales, there are many options for you when seeking used and second-hand furniture. These sites and sales can be a treasure trove of goods and beautiful furniture for your home, without having you break the bank.
Also, there are many websites and places around you that may sell used furniture such as an inter-faith store, furniture exchanges, never-been-used office furnishings, and surplus stores.
We recommend you carefully inspect any item you may be interested in and look for potential signs of wear and damage, as returning items may not be possible. When buying online on a marketplace, ask for secondary pictures to make sure you see all angles. Don’t forget to ask about the pick-up process too, as the furniture or product may not come apart and will require a larger vehicle to transport. It’s a good idea to have measurements of your space to ensure everything fits and you aren’t left with something that is too big for your home.
When purchasing items such as baby cribs, car seats, used mattresses, or older cookware, make sure to check for manufacturer expiry dates, odd smells, and any additional red flags. With heavily used items, these small wears and tears may change the effectiveness of the product.
Check out our past blog here for more tips on furnishing your living room on a budget.
Recycling and composting in an apartment or townhome doesn’t have to be tricky. While it may be challenging to save space with recycling bins, there are many solutions which can keep your space looking tidy and organized.
IKEA and Canadian Tire have small recycling bins that fit just about anywhere and can hold a decent number of items. They can also be stacked, should you need more than one. The bins could then be labelled to make for easier sorting and drop-offs. You can also find small bins that fit in storage spaces or underneath your sink, or even check out the combo 2-in-1 bins that hold garbage and recycling.
To make things easier and tidier while recycling, flatten boxes before tossing, know and research what can and can’t be recycled, and recycle any old tech if you have it lying around. Do your research and check out where the nearest recycling centre is near you, this way you can schedule drop-offs more frequently and ensure your bins don’t overflow and take over your space.
For composting, you can get small compost bins that fit perfectly in your freezer to keep the smell down, and there are many stores where you can buy compostable bags - some even come scented! And with so many takeout and food companies making more of their products compostable, be sure to check labels before something gets either recycled, composted, or thrown out.
We can all do our part to make the world a greener place, no matter the size of your home. Start small and encourage your neighbours to use some of our tips and tricks too, making it more fun and a sustainable way of living for your community.