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Most Recent Post: Going Green


In 2016, green living is all the rage. But sometimes city living can seem inconsistent with the off-the grid, hippie lifestyle. We usually think of eco-mentalists, as Clarkson calls them, living in a mud hut somewhere in Wales, where you wouldn’t really want to visit. That’s a pretty narrow view, though. As I’ve found, going green in your flat can make a big difference to both the environment and to your chequebook.

Here’s a few things I’ve done. They’re easy little fixes that make a surprising difference.

-Change out your plumbing fittings. Water rates are soaring all across the city, and getting some efficient fittings is an easy way to stay afloat. You can find “low-flow” or “water-saver” style shower heads, faucets, and even toilets, though your landlords probably won’t want you doing any major reno work. Just switch out the taps, and make sure your shower head is saving you water. I found mind at showerchamp.com, on this page http://showerchamp.com/best-low-flow-reviews/

Start composting. Food scraps shouldn’t end up in the rubbish bin. They’re far too valuable as a commodity. You can either bring your compost to a centre near you, or use it to fill bags or trays for a rooftop or window garden. I’ve had really good luck with grow-bags, especially for tomatoes. You might look a bit weird to the neighbors, but you’re saving the planet and getting fresh veg in the process. They’ll come round soon enough–after all, that’s how Jamie Oliver got started!

Get some power strips, and use them for all your electrics. You’d be amazed how much juice your appliances and electronics suck up even when they’re turned completely off. I heard about this from this article: http://gogreeninyourhome.com/how-to-save-electricity/appliances-still-use-power-when-turned-off/
I started saving quite a bit, even the first month I tried this. You’ve just got to tell your flatmates beforehand, so everyone plays along. Even just turning the strips off at night makes a big difference.

Change out your lightbulbs. Incandescents are huge power suckers, and they die really often, so they end up in the rubbish bin incredibly quickly. Go and get yourself some fluorescent or LED bulbs. They use far less energy, and last far longer than traditional bulbs.

Get some plants. Plants are a good way to brighten up your flat, and they can also serve other beneficial purposes. You can find “beneficials” that add oxygen to air, which is good for office spaces and cramped flats. There are also some others that absorb odors, which can be a real problem in shared spaces. That way you’re not spraying so many air fresheners and other crap. You also end up with more oxygen. I also keep a herb garden on the kitchen sill, and you can easily get some garden leafy greens going in your flat to have more eats.

Previous Post: Vibrant Living Spaces

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with some flats in London is the space. They’re cramped, and they’re not well-designed. Now, I’m not a feng shui master, but there are three things I’ve found really work to make your flat feel more free and open.

Use earth tones. They’re comforting and way less stress-enforcing than the industrial black and white tones you usually see in flats. Ask your landlords to let you repaint. Aim for something warm and vibrant, which will help you relax when you get home and dissipate stress. Think warm, not bright. Bright colors can seem cheerful, but are often overstimulating when you have to live around them full-time.

Make an open floorplan. We feel most crowded when we have barriers in the middle of rooms, and furniture jutting out from walls. Make use of your walls as shelf space, and leave yourself plenty of pacing room and free space inside the center of each room.

Maximize your windows. Windows are your opening to the outside world, and a reminder that you’re not completely alone in your little box. Make the most of them, especially if you’ve got a good view. Natural light makes a world of difference for moods and productivity, and also saves you electricity. Plus, having your windows clear means you can always get fresh air, and you can see the world around you. Having obstacles in front of your windows is a surefire way to feel cramped and anxious.