11 Steps to Create a Sustainable Apartment

I recently moved into my first apartment! It was unfurnished, so I had a blank canvas to create the space I wanted to live in. Following my own philosophy, I aimed to do this as sustainable as possible.

Here are some of the things that I focused on when furnishing and stocking my apartment!

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.

1. Used furniture

Probably one of the easiest things to find is used furniture. On the streets with a FREE sign, thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, your attic, or even a friend’s house.

One of my favorite pieces from Marketplace. The tea towel is from Goodwill!

I got most of my furniture from Facebook Marketplace, which would sometimes take me to places where I would find even more. I got quite a few things from a couple who I guess just resell stuff for fun in retirement? They have yard sales often and let me walk through their set up.

The Facebook Marketplace also directed me to antique stores, where I did find the most lovely refinished, robin egg blue dresser and buffet.

I also saved a lot of furniture from my college apartment, including the futon no one wanted (it’s a college couch…used for many years…need I say more?), a lamp, storage cubes, wire racks, pillows, and a comfy chair.

The only brand new things in this image are the TV, the rug, and the Biden sign.

To spruce things up a bit, I decided I wanted to put a navy cover on the futon. When I was looking at futon covers to buy, I realized I had a navy sheet from my extra long twin sheets set. Now, it does not fit on the ends perfectly, but it does fit well enough and the pillows on the end cover it up.

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2. Used kitchen and household items

Anything from silverware, dishes, pots, or even a drying rack!

From Facebook Marketplace, I got bundles from people who were moving or getting rid of a variety of different kitchen tools. This was incredibly cheap compared to buying new silverware, bowls, plates, and cups. I got things I never even thought I would need, like a peeler, bottle opener, and a can opener. I also got a rice cooker!

The used dishrack may seem odd, but why let a good one go to waste? I just cleaned it up, sanitized it, and it was good to go.

While perusing, I found collectible plates that matched a mug I bought at a Salvation Army while living in Florida this summer!!! What a find!!

At Goodwill, I picked up a spatula, a Pyrex measuring cup, and the most important tool: a pizza cutter.

If you buy new, try to get plastic free and reusable items, like food wraps, and bowl covers.

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3. Do It Yourself!

Or have a loved one do it themselves. My boyfriend found a metal stand and a thin, round piece of wood. He painted it white, put it together, and now I have a great kitchen table.

Chairs and rug are from Marketplace, table runner from Goodwill, and salt a pepper shakers are from my yard sale find!

One of my favorite decorations to make by upcycling are painted wine bottles.

I also have old t-shirts and fabric scraps that I haphazardly sewed together to make my own rags. No need for paper towels!

There’s so many things you can do yourself for your apartment!

4. Phase in different soaps and cleaning products

Disclaimer: use what you have first!

Let’s start with your personal hygiene. I use bar soap for hands and body, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars. There’s also refillable alternatives also if that is not your speed.

When it comes to doing dishes, there is bar soap for that also!

I recently started using dish soap that comes concentrated in a case of wax. You can compost the wax or even turn it into a candle.

For laundry, I am quite fortunate to have a family member that works at a natural food store with a robust bulk section (which if you have access to bulk, DO IT). I bring my own container and fill it with laundry detergent made by Better Life. I have also picked up the Tru Earth Laundry Strips to try.

Although I have never tried it, there are also options like a laundry bar!

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5. Wooden and upcycled cleaning tools

If you are buying any new cleaning tools, you can get wooden ones, like this toilet bowl brush and dish washing brush.

When it comes to cleaning nooks and crannies, old tooth brushes are great.

Be creative with your cleaning!

6. Shop local: local farms and farmers markets

Buying from local farms and vendors can cut down on your waste depending on the packaging, but in general it’s a good practice to buy locally sourced. It supports your local economy and reduces carbon footprint. Personally, I find that when I buy local, I am more connected to my food and where it is coming from.

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7. Compost (if possible!)

There are many ways to compost while in an apartment set up if you have a place to put it eventually or can put a system outdoors. I was considering a system like this countertop bin, but I still have not figured out my set up.

However, I have been freezing it in used plastic bags and taking it to my mom’s house when I have the chance.

You can also check if there’s a community garden or a local farm that will take it.

8. Reuse and repurpose containers

I keep all sorts of jars and containers for storing food, make up, all sorts of things! Be creative with this. I use an old jar to hold my tweezers and hair scissors. Even one as a toothbrush holder.

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9. Thrift and mend!

When moving to a new place, you might want to revamp your wardrobe.

Honestly, most of the clothes I get compliments on are second hand. I find such joy in sifting through racks of previously loved items to find the ones that speak to me. In this journey of reducing my clothing cycle, I have also held myself back from immediately buying new first. I try to find it used if I can. Buy from brands that practice sustainability if you are going to buy new.

I also have found that knowing how to mend your clothing or sew a button on is helpful. It gives more life to your favorite sweater or dress.

10. Sustainable toilet paper

You have probably seen these products among the toilet paper shortage. You can get recycled or bamboo toilet paper, packaged in paper! I ordered from Reel Paper and you can sign up for a subscription so you never go without it again.

11. Have a minimalist mindset

I decided to ditch the idea of having a microwave. My kitchen is TINY and it did not seem necessary after having an oven, stovetop, and toaster that also works as an air fryer.

By no means can I call myself a minimalist, but I try to adopt their philosophies.

These are just a few things to think about if you are moving!

There’s so much more to do. What ideas do you have?