Posted on July 31, 2014

How to Live Sustainably in Your Condo

If you’re looking to downsize from a single-family home to a condo, or are already condo-dwelling, the good news is that you are way ahead of the curve when it comes to living sustainably. Experts agree that in almost all cases, it is far more “green” to live high in the sky than down on the dirt. Not only do condos provide a much more efficient use of land, but energy use per home is generally much lower because of the decreased exposure to the elements — a condo shares walls, floors, and ceilings with adjacent homes. What’s more, high-rise condo towers tend to be much more centrally located and transit oriented, allowing residents to drive less and walk more.

Here are a few tips to help keep you living green. As you’ll see, the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra still stands strong.

SAVE WATER

1. Fully load that dishwasher


Today’s modern dishwashers tend to be quite water- and energy-efficient, and many use less water than it takes to wash dishes by hand. Nevertheless, it is best to run the dishwasher when it is completely full — a half-load setting uses a lot more than half the energy and water than a full-load setting.

2. Reuse your dishwater

If you are washing your dishes by hand, instead of filling your sink, fill a container with water in which to wash your dishes. Given the smaller volume, the container allows you to use much less water than you would in a full sink. Also, if you use natural dish soap, you can reuse the dishwater to water your thirsty plants.

SAVE ENERGY

3. Unplug appliances


Even when electronics are turned off, many still draw power from our outlets. Unplug your coffeemaker, blender, computer, phone charger, and other small appliances when they are not in use. This will help save you money on your BC Hydro bill, too!

4. Opt for LED light bulbs

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, may cost a bit more than outdated incandescent technology, but you will more than make up the price difference over the life of the bulb. LED light bulbs last more than ten times longer, use as little as three percent of the energy, and are much less likely to be damaged or broken over time than other bulbs.

5. Wash in cold and hang to dry

For some items, such as bath towels and bedding, you may want to opt for a hot wash cycle and dry in the dryer. For most other garments, however, a cold wash and drying rack will do just fine. Not only will this save a significant amount of energy, but it also is much gentler on fabrics and will help your clothes last longer.

PRODUCE LESS WASTE

6. Recycle beyond the blue bins

Most of us already separate our recyclable items from the rest of our waste and utilize the big blue bins in our buildings. But do you know all of the things that you can recycle beyond paper, cardboard, and containers? From plastic bags to batteries to electronics, the City of Vancouver provides information on how and where you can recycle a wide range of goods. View the list here.

7. Compost your food scraps

As of January 2014, the City of Vancouver began a transition to extend food scrap waste collection to multi-unit residential buildings as part of its initiative to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. For the first time ever, on behalf of your building, your strata council can apply for this service, which includes weekly food scrap pickup (along with recycling) and the provision of a composting bin for each home. The City of Burnaby has a similar food scrap collection service.

Of course, if you’re up for it, you can compost your own food scraps on your patio and use the nutrient-rich soil to feed your plants. There are many small composters on the market today.

What do you do daily to make sure you live sustainably in your condo? Tweet to us @BeedieLiving and let us know!

Article sources: City of Vancouver, City of Burnaby, Green Building Advisor, House to Home

Photo source: House to Home