10 Top Sustainable Living Tips for Rentals

The majority of Australians live in cities where about 30 per cent of people live in rental properties.
Tenants usually feel restricted in what they can, and mainly cannot, do. Why should they be bothered to adapt their home to be more sustainable, if they eventually have to move on to another property?
Does renting mean that they cannot live sustainably? Even if you don’t have a garden or much room, you can still grow herbs or vegetables, for example.
Though we feel like rulers of the Earth, we are actually a most vulnerable species, as we lost the art of simple living and we take most things in our daily lives for granted. What do we do in the event of a power outage or loss of power supply, for example? We don’t consider these things any more.
SpurTopia Residence - Block of 5 unit with a small backyard

Our family have been living in a rental property in New Farm for more than five years. We have adopted a lifestyle of being less reliant on the system and becoming self-sufficient. We do this by growing our own food, using resources readily available to us and using the urban environment to our benefit. As a result, we have also created a more resilient existence.
Sustainable living to us means an enhancement of life, lowering our living expenses and being environmentally aware without compromising our comfort or incurring extra expenditure.
We have created “A Small Kingdom”, where we are living a fulfilling life in complete happiness. Enjoying every moment of life, having a sense of belonging in our community and achievement in our aims encourages us to take further steps into an amazing future ahead of all of us.

We would like to share with you our sustainable-living tips that any tenant can employ to get you inspired to take the first step along this path.

10 top sustainable living tips

Self-watering planter box
1. Grow your own food – in a small garden bed, a pot, even in polystyrene vegetable box. Create your garden on a balcony or a patio. Focus on herbs and lettuce to start with. These are easy to grow and quick to harvest. Start small and then build from there.

Sprouting on a kitchen bench
2. Sproutingsprouts are one of the healthiest, freshest and cheapest superfoods you can eat. You can grow them on a kitchen bench in a jar. In just a couple of days you have great sprouts to eat, while sprouts on the supermarket shelf can be several days old. Mix them with muesli or into fruit salad. Add lemon juice to enhance. The sprouting process significantly enhances vital energy, increases digestible protein, provides vitamins and minerals . Try sprouting mung beans, adzuki, lentils, fenugreek, wheat, barley, rye and alfalfa. Soak seeds overnight, then rinse twice daily in an airy container. Once sprouts mature, they can be stored in a fridge for a couple a days.

Worm farm as a planter pot
3. Recycle organic materials – recycle your organic kitchen scraps, newspaper and cardboard in a worm farm which can be made with a bucket with a lid or a styrofoam vegetable box. This saves organic material clogging up landfills and prevents rotten smells in your normal rubbish bin. As a reward you get a nice earthy compost as a potting mix for pots and a high-nutrition worm juice, an organic fertiliser which plants love.

4. Green Power - purchase 100 per cent green power from your electricity supplier. It doesn’t cost a fortune (extra 5c per kWh), and your power comes from renewable sources of energy.

Rosella Jam
5. Home produce – is healthier and more environmentally friendly, it saves money, is usually better quality and you know what it’s been made of. Think home-baked bread and cakes, preserves, cleaning products using vinegar and bicarbonate soda, aloe vera, for example).

6. Freecycle - give stuff away, get stuff for free from web based Freecycle organisation local to your area. Stuff you no longer want can find a home rather than being dumped to land fill. Or even easier, put unwanted stuff on the footpath with a "free" sign. It usually goes in a day!

Our community BBQ night
7. Functional community - get know your neighbours, swap produce, give stuff away, socialize. It’s fun and provides a sense of belonging in your community.

8. Active transport - walking, cycling and using public transport are better for the environment and your health. Think a car costs about $10,000 a year to run, and a gym membership costs about $600. If you bike, it costs nothing and you don’t need gym membership!

9. Five R's - Refuse-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Repair

10. Get out and smash it - do not make excuses and start now. Start with the easiest, smallest thing such as a pot of basil. Do that now and then add more as you go.

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